Freestyle rhyming (or freestyle rapping) is like casting a net into the sea of thought-fragments bubbling up from your subconscious mind. It’s an unparalleled way to access idle mind-content, inaccessible without impetus. Improv in general is the only way I know of to dig up metaphors and relationships from deep within the mind, without a conscious intermediate. Granted, a freestyle is little more than gibberish coming from a stranger. But try listening to a friend of yours freestyle off the top, really listen, and decide if “gibberish” is still all you hear. The essential question to ask is this: “why did saying this lead them to say that?” The answer is usually not obvious. But as your friend’s improvised rhapsody unfolds… you might just glimpse the gears turning in their head. Interpreting your own freestyles is even more revealing, since it is easier to answer the question, “why did saying this lead *me* to say that?”. Here’s the crux of it: freestyle rap is a trick. It is just improv with rhyming; the rhyming keeps the improv going, like an engine. It’s not lost on me that people will doubt freestyle is as I say. The word “freestyle” has been endlessly hi-jacked and abused. I think freestyle rhyming was rejected as a serious art form because of the endless emcees who lay claim to it, seemingly as a right of passage, yet who do not understand it. Worse, many rappers fake freestyle under false pretense, and this is often allowed. Rappers have made freestyling about being “good”/“bad” when it’s not about that, or at least it doesn’t have to be. I predict that with time freestyle will escape its confinement to the rap genre, because freestyle is an unparalleled form of expression and introspection. In the meantime, to anyone who has never freestyled and doubts what I have to say here, I implore you to give it a shot — in the shower, in the car, in your head, with your friends — just try it.