FREESTYLE 101: HIP HOP HISTORY
Starring: Open Mike Eagle, Iron Solomon, Ice-T, and Chuck D
Director: Frank Meyer
While Freestyle 101 delves into interesting aspects of freestyle rap (region-specific definitions, scientific research, battle rapping), the film’s piecemeal structure creates major lulls through its first hour. Video quality fluctuates between interviews, certain freestyle breaks overstay their welcome, and identical clips are used multiple times, making it seem like the filmmakers weren’t sure how to fill the runtime. It wanders listlessly until they channel the storytelling through independent artists Open Mike Eagle and Iron Solomon. Once they focus on these subjects, the documentary is an alright addition to this year’s celebration of 50 years of Hip-Hop.
While the montages of people freestyling make for a decent enough distraction, the history and interview aspects of Freestyle 101 leave a lot to be desired. Between the rudimentary history lessons, the testimonials that feel dated and cheaply done like a workplace training video, and the overall repetitiveness, this doc is probably best for people who know absolutely nothing about freestyling and hip-hop. On top of that…and obviously this won’t be the same for everyone…but despite his reputation, I don’t think Iron Solomon, one of the main focal points here, is all that great (or he at least pales in comparison to Open Mike Eagle).