As the BET Cyphers last week proved, there’s something special about watching a rapper just spit. Though the cyphers only come once a year, there are still places out there that force rappers to deliver verses over a beat in a live setting. Sway In The Morning is one of those places.
The Shade 45 morning show hosted by hip-hop veteran Sway Calloway debuted in 2011 and in the last few years it’s became a destination for rap fans looking to see artists put to the test. The verses may not always be spontaneous—some of the clips you’ll find on this list were obviously pre-written—but there’s a real joy in seeing a rapper hear a beat, pause, silently smile, then go in. As recent appearances by Vic Mensa and Danny Brown show, Sway fresstyles are quickly become their own mini-genre, so we decided to pick 15 freestyles you gotta check out. –Dan Jackson