Move over 8 Mile, there is a new film about rapping which is about to take the world by storm. We are so excited to be supporting the first ever digital release of Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme on July 2. This critically acclaimed and multi-award winning documentary has been a festival favorite for over 5 years and we are thrilled to be joining the team.
As the film finds its new life in the digital space, it’s interesting to look at the other narrative being told here. A fantastic film was made, spent years traveling around the festival circuit garnishing many awards and accolades, and then was released on DVD for people to purchase. For the first time, people were able to see a young Notorious B.I.G. spit rhymes on the street corner so well that he made his targets just walk away. Mos Def is also shown as a young man, bursting onto the scene and developing his sound with collaborator Talib Kweli.
With the world of media having changed so much since the film was started, and the outlets reaching far greater than ever before — iPods, iPhones, tablets, laptops, smart phones, game consoles, and everything else in the marketplace today can seemingly play a movie — Freestyle, the film, now can be seen by many more people in so many new ways.
As we dive deeper, we can say the same thing is true for what this film was documenting. The world of improvisational rap, freestyling, ripping rhymes in a circle (cipher) and battling has gone through a similar transition, where music can now be uploaded, played, listened to, explained, and broadcast in more ways than ever before, and web sites have thousands of hours of songs uploaded to them every day where all it takes to listen in is a simple Internet connection at your local coffee shop. SoundCloud gives emerging artists a new platform to try out their content and get instant feedback. YouTube has turned rappers into studio artists. Hype Machine can bring a song or verse to new heights with a single posting. Can you imagine if the greatest freestyler of all time, Supernatural, had had these technologies available to him back in the day? Instead of ten lucky people hearing him in the park, his best verses would have been played around the world. Today, there is no more local. Music and talent in particular take a global approach.
The great feeling that you get from this film is nostalgia, looking back to a time when these freestyle circles could happen without eight iPhones recording the whole thing. Yet, we must accept the world we live in and that media has gone digital. Releasing this film digitally will simply give more people the opportunity to see it and on the whole, isn’t that the goal? (Note: freestyle unintended.)