Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme
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The pioneers and current purveyors of the vibrant art of freestyle hip-hop mingle in this hour-long documentary about the origins and future of the style. Shot in New York City, L.A., and San Francisco, Freestyle alternates between informed commentary -- by rap stalwarts such as The Last Poets, Mos Def, Supernatural, and Cut Chemist -- and impromptu vocal performances. Throughout, the filmmakers trace the social consciousness of the genre and suggest that it may be making a comeback. Director Kevin Fitzgerald previously made his name as a deejay on L.A. radio station KPFK.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The film's conventions have become hip-hop doc clichés."
‑ Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel
"A thoughtful overview of a major musical movement, from its churchy roots to its urban present, from its aggressive front to its spiritual underpinnings."
‑ Hazel-Dawn Dumpert, L.A. Weekly
"there's too little evidence that freestyling in itself deserves even the short 75 minutes allotted for this film"
‑ Mark Athitakis,
"Very innovative chronicle of a notable culture."
‑ Tim Cogshell, Boxoffice Magazine
"Where 2001's Scratch focused on 'turntablism' and the art of the DJ, Kevin Fitzgerald's brief but engaging documentary takes a look at those who do the actual rapping -- the MCs"
‑ Ken Fox, TV Guide's Movie Guide
"The skills on display in Freestyle are too varied and idiosyncratic for one movie to contain, but this one at least offers a heady, rousing education in an art form that is too often misunderstood."
‑ A.O. Scott, New York Times
"An engaged and knowing look at the underground world of improvised rap, concentrating on artists less interested in commercial success and cutting records than in the 'spontaneous right now' of 'nonconceptual rhyme.'"
‑ Fred Camper, Chicago Reader
"Watching some of the best freestylers riff like Charlie Parkers with thesauruses is often breathtaking."
‑ Todd Deery, Orlando Weekly
"Not since the groundbreaking Wild Style has there been a hip-hop film this exciting to watch."
‑ , E! Online
"Makes for an interesting close-up on an art form whose intricacies could all too easily go unnoticed."
‑ Merle Bertrand, Film Threat
"Even if you have no previous interest in or extensive knowledge of hip-hop, Freestyle will draw you in, accomplishing that rare feat of making the creative process interesting while also telling a story."
‑ Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times
"Dispels myths about the 'gangsta' aura that clings to rap and shows this poetry of the streets in all its different forms: social protest, entertainment and aggression."
‑ Jami Bernard, New York Daily News
"The only downside of watching the movie? The rhythm gets you, and you're likely not going to want to sit still in your seat."
‑ Luke Y. Thompson, Los Angeles CityBeat
"Impromtu energy."
‑ Harvey S. Karten, Compuserve
"Ebullient hip-hop documentary."
‑ Phil Hall, Film Threat
More reviews for Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme on Rotten Tomatoes