Modern day battle rap is largely based around prewritten lyrics. It's become the norm. If you can therefore freestyle battle rap well, you instantly give yourself a huge advantage over the majority of other battle rappers. No longer will you have to think of all your lyrics before hand, then look silly when they say something about you which you haven't prepared any comebacks for. If you can freestyle, you can instantly flip those lyrics back at the beginning of your next round. This is also known as a rebuttal.
So if you want to learn how to freestyle battle rap, read on and start practicing asap.
By the way, this is a follow up to out full on guide on how to battle rap for beginners. If you want to learn all aspects of the battle rap scene, you need to check this guide out.
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What Is A Freestyle Rap?
A freestyle battle rap is where you make up battle rap lyrics on the spot. They aren't written down before hand, you simply say whatever you feel as the situation calls for it. As it takes a while to learn, most rappers can't do this. If you learn to do it well, you'll instantly allow yourself to compete at a much higher level of battle rap.
How Long Does It Take To Freestyle Rap When Learning?
So how long does it take to freestyle rap? While it will depend on how much time you can dedicate to practicing, your confidence levels and your base level of experience with rap, expect it to take months before you can freestyle to a good level.
Training yourself in this art requires a lot of practice and dedication to learning how things work. Not only will you need to learn how to keep flowing and not keep stopping, but once you've mastered that you'll need to practice adding better lyrics to your freestyles.
While you could start getting ok at freestyle battle rapping quicker than that, if you want to do it to a high level, it'll take months of hardcore practice. And even then, you should always work on improving your freestyles to stay sharp and improve. Most battle rappers who freestyle say it takes ongoing training, so don't let practice slip.
Practice Freestyle Rapping, And Prepare To Fail (Initially)!
One of the biggest ways to learn how to freestyle is to practice. Now let me make one things clear: initially when you're trying to freestyle lyrics off the top of your head, you'll stumble a lot. You won't be able to think of words for your next line, and you'll most likely rap a lot of nonsense. This is fine.
No beginner is instantly good at freestyle rapping. Even if you're a good rapper with prewritten lyrics, chance are that you'll find this side of things difficult to start off with. But keep at it, as the more you practice, the better and more natural you'll become.
Start out flowing your raps; they don't even need to rhyme initially. Just make sure you keep going, even through mistakes. Just speak about what you feel as the feelings come up. Try to stick to one subject, and kind of rap talk it in a way that would sound good to a beat. Once you can do that, start adding in basic rhymes.
If you can rhyme ‘head' with ‘red' and ‘bed', you're on the right track. While these freestyles won't win you any battle raps, they are good building blocks and a good position to work from.
Once you have basic rhyming down, the next step is to add in more impressive rhymes. This will add to your battle rap personality and make people take to you more. You can do this through the following.
Use A Rhyming Dictionary To Win Freestyle Battle Raps
You've never going to be able to effectively freestyle if you don't have a good vocabulary. In order to instantly think of something to rhyme with another word, you'll need to know a wide range of rhyming options. After all, if every time you think of the word ‘head' you rhyme with ‘red' or ‘dead', your lyrics are going to get very boring very fast.
Now imagine instead you had hundreds of potential words you could rhyme any word with? Using out previous example of ‘head', here are some other options:
All of these were quickly and easily found using the Rhyme Zone rhyming dictionary. This is a must use resource for any wannabe freestyle battle rapper. And the best thing? It's 100% free!
Word play plays a big part in battle rap, so make sure you've got yours on point.
Practice Writing Battle Rap Lyrics
Now while the whole point of freestyling is that you rap off the top of your head and you don't use any prewritten lyrics, writing lyrics down and practicing this craft is a good way to improve your actual freestyling. Let me explain.
You see, rap lyrics need structure. Depending on how you structure them, they could either turn out really good, or really bad. The better you are at structuring your lyrics, the better chance you give your freestyles of having good structure too.
My advice is to practice coming up with written lyrics fast. Don't spend too much time going back over them, just write ideas down as they come. The faster you can write lyrics down, the faster your brain will be working. This speed you gain will benefit you when it comes to freestyle battle rap.
Start With The Second Line And Your Main Punchline
A common mistake many beginner freestylers make is not planning far enough ahead. Most people initially think you should start freestyling thinking of the first line and then the second line. But many experienced freestylers actually start with the second line (often the hard hitting punch line) and then craft a first line which rhymes to go before it. If you're scrambling to think of big hitting lines to follow up your first line, you'll often make it more difficult for yourself than it needs to be.
So plan ahead, and think about the main point of what you want to say. Make this the second line, and create a lead in line to go before it.
Have Filler Lines
When you're still new, there will be times where you're freestyling and your mind goes blank. In this instance it can be good to have filler lines available which you can put in there while you think of your next line.
These filler lines can be pre-written, and shouldn't require any real brain power to spit. This is because you'll be using that brain power of yours to create your next line.
While you shouldn't rely too much on these filler lines, they're better then freezing up and going silent. As you become a better freestyle battle rapper, you won't need to use these anywhere near as much. That said, at the beginning they're pretty handy to have.
Pick Up Lines Used Against You And Plan Out A Reply
So let's say you've become good at freestyling and you're ready to battle against someone. Even if it's not a freestyle battle, this tip can still come in handy.
When it's your opponent's round, it's important you listen out for what they're saying about you. Remember a few key points you can respond to and create a ‘flip' in your head.
A flip, or ‘rebuttal' as some call it, is when you give a counter-argument and make them look silly for mentioning it in the first place. You can do that by giving the real facts about something they said, or by letting the audience know about a time where the same thing happened to them but worse.
Whatever the case is, plan out what you're going to say before the beginning of your next round. This may require you to blank out some of the thing they're currently saying while you try to concentrate, but it'll be worth it if you reverse the biggest point they made in the round and make them look silly. A lot of people will forget much of what they said and instead remember your reversal, leading to higher points from the judges.
How To Freestyle Rap In Battles, Final Thoughts
Freestyle battle rap isn't easy to do, but get practicing with the above points and you'll be on the right path.
Have you got any other tips on how to freestyle in a battle rap? If so leave them in the comments.