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Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme
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Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme (2000) More at IMDbPro »

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Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme -- Trailer for Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme
Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme -- A documentary about freestyling--the improvised, on-the-spot rhymes that demonstrate the skills of hip-hop MCs.


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A documentary about freestyling--the improvised, on-the-spot rhymes that demonstrate the skills of hip-hop MCs. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
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User Reviews:
A so-so documentary made with... LOVE! See more (6 total) »



Muhammad Ali ... Himself (archive footage)
Planet Asia ... Himself
Bahamadia ... Herself

Yasiin Bey ... Himself (as Mos Def)
Akim Funk Buddah ... Himself
Eluard Burt ... Himself
Myo Campbell ... Himself
John Coltrane ... Himself (archive footage)
Darkleaf ... Himself
Kirby Dominant ... Himself

Eminem ... Himself (archive footage)
Freestyle Fellowship ... Themselves
Lord Finesse ... Himself
Kevin Fitzgerald ... Himself (voice)
Richard Fox
Craig G ... Himself
Bobbito Garcia ... Himself (as Bobbito)
Kool Herc ... Himself (archive footage)
Juice ... Himself
Jurassic 5 ... Themselves (archive footage)
Khaiim ... Himself (as Ka-lel)

Ghostface Killah ... Himself
Kool Moe Dee ... Himself (archive footage)

KRS-One ... Himself

Talib Kweli ... Himself
The Last Poets ... Themselves
Crazy Legs ... Himself
Living Legends ... Themselves
The Lyricist Lounge ... Themselves

Lucas MacFadden ... Himself (as Cut Chemist)

Debi Mazar ... Herself (archive footage)

Darryl McDaniels ... Himself (archive footage)
Medusa ... Herself
Pharoahe Monch ... Himself

The Notorious B.I.G. ... Himself (archive footage)
Otherwize ... Himself
PackFM ... Himself
Boots Riley ... Himself

Tupac Shakur ... Himself (archive footage)

Joseph Simmons ... Himself (archive footage)
Charles Stewart ... Himself (as Chali 2na)
Divine Styler ... Himself
Tragedy Styles ... Background Music
Supernatural ... Himself

Sway ... Himself

Ahmir-Khalib Thompson ... Himself (as ?uestlove)
Tariq Trotter ... Himself (as Black Thought)
Wordsworth ... Himself

Directed by
Kevin Fitzgerald 
Produced by
Brad Abramson .... executive producer: VH1
Joey Anuff .... development producer
Ann Berger .... co-executive producer
Michel Costes .... co-producer
Paul Devlin .... producer
Peter Giblin .... associate producer
Youree Henley .... line producer
Michael Hirschorn .... executive producer: VH1
Wesley Jones .... associate producer
The Lyricist Lounge .... associate producer
Charles Raggio .... co-producer
Henry Alex Rubin .... producer
Shelly Tatro .... executive producer: VH1
Tiare White .... executive producer
Meredith Wilson .... senior producer
Original Music by
Freestyle Fellowship 
DJ Organic 
Omid Walizadeh  (as Omid)
Cinematography by
Todd Hickey 
Daniel Kozman 
Film Editing by
Paul Devlin 
Rachel Ramist 
Isaac Solotaroff 
Production Management
Alex Jablonski .... production manager
Sound Department
Ty Bertrand .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Andrew Piccone .... camera operator
Music Department
Charles Raggio .... music supervisor
Andrea von Foerster .... music coordinator
Brooke Wentz .... music clearance
Brooke Wentz .... music supervisor
Other crew
Paul Devlin .... producing editor

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Freestyle" - USA (short title)
"VH1 News Presents: Freestyle - The Story of Underground Hip Hop" - USA (TV title)
See more »
60 min | 74 min | 90 min (Directors Cut)

Did You Know?

Movie Connections:
Features Wild Style (1983)See more »


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18 out of 25 people found the following review useful.
A so-so documentary made with... LOVE!, 30 August 2004
Author: Voivod-2 from Berkeley, CA

This is a decent documentary with a very homemade and intimate feel, full of interesting people, and with compelling subject matter. Despite its admirable goals, I feel that it was a documentary with major flaws in it, and I have the sense that it had the potential to be a lot better than it was. Some of these shortcomings I would level against the director, while some seem to have their roots in the art form itself.

Most importantly, as a showcase for freestyle as an art form, it is surprising to see how the MCs in this movie are, by and large, pretty wack. There are a few that are quite good-- particularly a talented freestyler named Juice who is easily the best rapper depicted -- but for the most part they are mediocre rappers with poor flow, throwing around tired battle rhymes. Even Supernatural, who is often cited as the world's best freestyler, doesn't seem all that remarkable. Nor does the much heralded Mos Def, who raps in a monotonous style that quickly proves tedious and boring. However, there is a very early clip of Biggie Smalls at age 17, rhyming in the streets of New York; it's both historically interesting and one of the better examples of freestyle featured in the movie. This clip also has a way of showing how a better selection of rhymes would have drastically improved the quality of the documentary. And even though "Freestyle" catches the loose and casual feel of impromptu "cyphers" (circles of freestylers that rhyme and battle), it is largely unable to capture many transcendent rhymes, the kind that you go to the movie in hopes of seeing. Unfortunately, there are only a couple times you might be genuinely impressed by the rhymes. In general, freestyle comes off in the movie as something that you respect and appreciate "in theory" rather than when you're actually presented with it, again, with a few exceptions.

If you didn't already know about freestyling, and hadn't already been exposed to good freestyling, this movie might convince you that freestyling is an interesting facet of urban culture, but it probably would not make a strong argument that it's a art form worth paying attention to. Sure, there are isolated moments of interest, but in general, it comes off here as a rather undeveloped art. On top of that there's all these guys doing these unenlightened rhymes that hardly seem like important or progressive social, political, or even humanitarian statements. I would have liked to have seen people rapping about intelligent things, not insulting each others' physical appearances and making wack attacks on each other's clothes! And yes, I realize that these MC battles are part of what freestyling is about and where it came from, yet the director does not attempt to explain what socially progressive purpose such rhymes provide. Agreed, that it helps create community, but what use is that community without a positive purpose? After all, it's not hard to gather crowds around fights.

In this manner, too much effort is made by the director to make freestyling out to be a "spiritual" exercise. While it is conceivably true, "Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme" nakedly makes overtures to convince you of this at every possible opportunity; and at times, it seems to use this "spiritual" veneer to gloss over the rampant violence, misogyny, and homophobia that comes through in many of the freestyle lyrics. It seems disingenuous on the part of the director to portray these rhymes as "spiritual" and "expressions of the divine" when they don't seem particularly bent on promoting consciousness. Instead, it almost seems that all the "spiritual" talk is a way of deflecting this sort of criticism.

In the end, I think this movie is largely for "heads" (AKA hardcore hip-hop fans); anyone else won't come out feeling too impressed by this art form, if their only exposure to it is based on this documentary. But ironically, hip-hop fans who will be interested in this subject matter are probably already knowledgeable about freestyling, and would likely be familiar with better and more interesting rhymes, ones that could elicit more provoking thought than these. For what it's worth, this movie is clearly a labor of love, and there's a deep respect and love for hip-hop culture involved in the making of this movie, but unfortunately it doesn't really translate into a very compelling documentary.

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