Compliment Battle Style

When you practice with another MC, take turns trading compliments with each other. You are competing to give the biggest, most impressive and cleverest compliments. Freestyle about their positive aspects: why you like them, how they contribute to the community, how well they are dressed, how they have been successful, how good their freestyle is, how good they make everyone feel. If you can’t think of anything, make stuff up.

Freestyle Focus Group runs on positive intentions and on positive energy. The MC battle is very popular and is a traditional show of freestyle skill, but being negative and trading insults goes against our philosophy. A lot of MC battles quickly start to include sexist, racist, and homophobic attitudes and other unkind or inappropriate comments. We think there’s enough negativity in the world, and we want to focus on building people up. If you find yourself in a MC battle, try using this compliment battle style instead. It definitely throws off MCs accustomed to regular battles. If they say something nasty about you, don’t worry, it’s only freestyle, and it’s all in fun. The best thing about a compliment battle, in the end, everyone wins.


Different Beats

Try mixing up the beats that you freestyle to. There’s instrumentals in so many different genres, so don’t limit yourself to your favourite style of hip-hop. Practice with different tempos, different rhythms, different instrumentation and different vibes. There’s lots of club music that’s very suitable to start with: house, breakbeats, electro, dubstep, old funk, soul, R&B, rock, jazz, Afrobeat, reggae, soca, reggaeton, moombaton, etc., etc., etc. Try music you don’t normally listen to. Include country, folk, bluegrass, pop, classical, and other genres from Africa, South America and Asia — even mediation records, talk radio and noise. Every genre can teach you something new. Don’t freestyle to them all in the same way — let them influence you to try a new style. You’ll be surprised by what you come up with when you listen to beats outside your regular playlist. Everyone has tracks they prefer and are more inspired by, but don’t pass the mic just because it isn’t your favourite track.

If you freestyle with a DJ, dare them to throw down beats you can’t freestyle over. Most DJs have lots of records they can never play out, so they are up to the challenge. Even better, invite or go and visit all your DJ friends and challenge them to give you their own unique instrumental set. After this, you’ll be ready for anything any DJ can throw at you, anywhere.

Extempo sing style

Try singing your freestyle. You can make up a melody, or freestyle over a track with a melody you know. You can sing the whole thing, just a chorus, or just small parts for emphasis.

Like any variation in style, sometimes singing can open up new ideas. Adding tone or melody to your voice is a great way to add emphasis and get attention to a line, phrase or idea. A lot of rappers neglect their singing ability, so this allows you to stand out from the crowd. Some people can only sing-freestyle, so they need to practice other techniques. But if you’re a singer and you think you can’t freestyle at all, try sing style, it might unlock your potential!

“Extempo” is a style of Calypso freestyle singing in the Caribbean. They often use a competitive format where two Calypsonians take turns singing verses over a well known melody. The crowd decides the winner.


While you freestyle, get the other MCs to try to distract you and try to break your flow. They can make funny faces, show you surprising or shocking things, get up in your face, or even physically distract you. How long can you keep in the flow?

If you usually practice in a studio or bedroom or even in a cypher with your friends, you’re probably in a dedicated freestyling environment. The focus is on the freestyle. There’s a lot of freestyle circumstances where that’s not the case: on a street corner, at an underground party, on a stage. In these places anything can happen. People might not respect what you are doing, they don’t care, they want to mess with you or heckle you, or they are doing something that can pull your focus. If you practice for distraction, you’ll soon be able to flow through anything, and even incorporate it into your freestyle.

Freestyle Chorus

When you’re freestyling, pick a theme or a phrase or hook in your freestyle and turn it into a chorus. Repeat it a few times in a catchy way. Continue freestyling, then come back to that same chorus. If you have more MCs or an audience, encourage them join in on the chorus too.

This is a little trick we learned from songwriters. Audiences love a chorus. It’s something they can relate to, something they can expect, something they can learn and repeat. If you ramble on in an endless freestyle, there’s nothing to hold on to. Your chorus doesn’t have to be amazing or profound, it just has to be memorable. Just pick any great-sounding phrase in your freestyle, slow it down to half-time for emphasis, repeat it a few times, then come back to it again later. If you include a bridge leading up to your chorus and come back to it the same way, it will sound great — but you might sound like you wrote the whole song in advance. So you might have to remind people you’re freestyling.

No Yo

Figure out what word or phrase you repeat constantly while you freestyle. It might help to get a friend to listen to you and tell you what it is. Now try to freestyle without using it. Not so easy!

This will expand your word repertoire. Everyone has one or several of these words; we like to call them fluff words. We use them to add style, or to fill out syllables in our flow. We call this practice “No Yo” because of how much we use the word “Yo” when we freestyle. Changing these can sometimes make a big difference to your sound or style, even if it’s something simple like switching out “Yo” for “Hey!” Some MCs will get on the mic and nervously pretend to check if the mic is on with “One-two, one-two, yeah, check check, yo yo.” Assume the mic is on. Start freestyling! You can pick anything you see and comment on it, once you start the ball rolling, it will usually keep going.


Freestyle in a language other than English. This can be your mother tongue, or a language you have been learning.

Sometimes you hand someone the mic they say, “I’m sorry, I don’t know English very well.” Who said we have to freestyle in English? If you know another language, either your first language or a language you are just learning, use that language while freestyling! If it’s a new language for you, it might be hard at first, either because you don’t know that language very well, or because you haven’t freestyled very much using it. As you practice and get better, you might find it greatly increases your abilities in that language. Often people exhibit a totally different style when they change languages. Some languages are great for freestyle because almost every word rhymes with the next. When you’re proficient in several languages try alternating between them while you are freestyling for maximum effect.


Freestyle without using any words, just made up sounds. Skeep-beep de bop-bop beep bop bo-dope, Skeetle-at-de-op-de-day. Bee-doo, bee-doo, yakka-yakka, bow yer chuk, dak-dak, a-diddle diddle, bo-der-dak chuk hey!

Focus on the rhythm and the dynamics your voice makes with the beats. Not having to think about what you are going to say or having to think up the next rhyme can liberate you to just create sounds around the beat. Borrowed from jazz, Rapscat isn’t beatboxing, it’s word-like sounds that go with the beat. You can use syllables in triplets or quarter notes, and you can use sounds from other languages. You’ll discover new possibilities when you’re not using words, and you can bring the vocal riffs you find back into your freestyle when you start using words again.

Rapscat 50-50: Start throwing some words and phrases back into your freestyle. Now you can express yourself with words, and you can drop the gibberish at anytime. Create amazing multi-syllable rhythms, and rhyme anything you can imagine without having to think of a real word. This style can really open up your ability to express yourself and still create an amazing and dynamic flow.


With two mics, take one mic in each hand. Freestyle with both, taking turns on each mic. You can use a different vocal style or persona in each mic. You can do a fake back-and-forth duet or conversation with yourself. Try adding live effects to one of the mics, like echo or like autotune. If you don’t have a mic, you can get the effect by freestyling while alternately turning to your right and left side, or switch between two different body postures.

Switching mics helps to switch your style by physically embodying the changeover. It can help you do faster style switching, and remember to switch it up without getting mentally carried away by your freestyle drift.

Bring the Hype!

While you freestyle, the other MC is the Hype. The Hype’s job is to get the audience excited, get the freestyler excited, create emphasis in the freestyler’s flow, and generally pump the energy in the place. While you are freestyling, leave a bit more space than usual in your flow. Small gaps and pauses between words, phrases and lines creates space that the Hype can fill. As the Hype you can do something as simple as saying the freestyler’s MC name, or your name. Simple sounds, catchwords and phrases include classics like “What?” and “Yeah!,” or make your own unique phrase. Try repeating key words from the other MCs freestyle. It doesn’t have to make sense, so go crazy! It’s about pumping the energy, jumping around, verbally and physically creating energy and excitement. As the freestyle MC, focus on not being distracted by the Hype, so the Hype supports your flow instead of breaking it.

Take turns being the Hype.