Movie: Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme

Our Rating: 3.50

Performed in urban clubs and on street corners, "freestyle" hip-hop occurs when rappers perform unwritten and unrehearsed rhymes over an improvised beat. The subgenre gets a thorough treatment in this hour-long documentary, shot mainly in New York, L.A. and San Francisco (and previously seen as part of the 2003 Florida Film Festival). In examining the origins, future and major players of freestyle, director Kevin Fitzgerald breaks it down into its component parts; we also learn of the freestylers' disdain for commercial rap and witness "battles" in which the best go head-to-head for a little money and major street cred. Stalwarts like Mos Def and Last Poets provide commentary, and watching some of the best freestylers (like Supernatural and Juice) riff like Charlie Parkers with thesauruses is often breathtaking.