21 of the Best Radio Freestyles of 2017 (So Far)
If you happen to be over the age of 30, or just a fan of the traditional brand of lyricism that was all the rage throughout the 1990s and aughts, you may have found yourself disgruntled at times over the past few years with the sudden shift in the sound of mainstream rap. While artists like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and a host of others still take pride in being wordsmiths and delivering verses dense with verbiage, the growing trend of rappers more concerned with cadence, delivery, and catchy refrains has caused a divide in hip-hop, with many lamenting the lack of pure spitters in today's rap landscape.
The rise of what many have pegged as "mumble rap" is certainly a phenomenon that shows no signs of slowing down. However, one aspect of rap that is still flooded with an ample amount of talent of the lyrical variety is that of the freestyle, giving artists free reign to flex their skills while proving themselves as worthy of the crowd's ear. No longer relegated to mixtapes you had to scour for and collect to hear your favorite up-and-coming rappers getting busy over a track, or record your local mixshow, these days you can simply head to YouTube or your favorite website and not only see, but witness a freestyle taking place, "rapper hands," entourage and all.
Although we're only halfway through the year, 2017 has seen more than a few memorable freestyles surface, with superstars, veterans, and upstarts alike vying to prove themselves to the public. With the first half of the year coming to a close, XXL highlights 21 of the best freestyles from 2017 so far.