Category Archives: Freestyle

Freestyle – “Warriors” (8 of 14)

Posted by Paul Devlin:

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The Battle between Supernatural and Craig G was the most eagerly anticipated of its time. Assembling the footage to present this sequence wasn’t easy. It took a lot of convincing and cajoling. But the result is a slice of hip hop history captured for the ages.

The Making of Freestyle (continued)

The re-discovered interview of Bobbito not only gave great insight into the movement, but also provided a framework for a story for Freestyle. Bobbito talked about a legendary battle between two of the top Freestylers, Supernatural and Craig G. We already had a fantastic segment on Supernatural. Then we learned that Supernatural also battled Juice. I had material on Juice when I was making my version of the movie. These battles might provide a dramatic thread that would save the movie.

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Freestyle – “Cypher” (7 of 14)

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Get inside the “cypher,” the energetic core of freestyling, climaxed with an exhilarating performance from Mos Def!

The Making of Freestyle (continued)

Kevin was in California much of the time, so Henry and I collaborated on the re-edit in NYC, first working in his apartment near CBGBs, then finishing up in my apartment in Stuyvesant Town. The challenge was to find some kind of a story within the random performances and interviews. We started by organizing the material into chapters. Then we dug deeper into the footage. We found an interview of hip hop impresario Bobbito, which had never been digitized or synched. It was a goldmine!

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Freestyle – “360” (6 of 14)

Posted by Paul Devlin:

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This excerpt shows how the art of Freestyling infuses all aspects of hip hop – “that fleeting moment of escape.”

The Making of Freestyle (continued)

It took me awhile to decide whether or not I would join the Freestyle team. Technically the project was a mess – all sorts of different formats, several editors, many iterations. It was going to take a long time just to get it ready for a re-edit – guaranteed brain damage. By then I was working on my next project, Power Trip, and wasn’t sure I wanted to dilute my time. There was a lot of negotiating, and stalling, but finally I decided the movie deserved to find its audience. I signed on as “Producing Editor” (or Preditor, as I preferred to be called).

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Freestyle – “Otherwize” (5 of 14)

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Otherwize is a fierce competitor and shows just how brutal Freestyle Battles can be. “Noone cares who came in third place. If you’re gonna do it, DO IT.” 

The Making of Freestyle (continued)

Soon after I met Kevin Fitzgerald, his producer Henry-Alex Rubin (who later went on to co-direct Murder Ball) contacted me. Kevin was having trouble selling his movie. The cut was good enough for festivals, but not for broadcast. It needed to be re-worked. They wanted to know if I would join them and re-edit the movie.

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Freestyle – “THE BATTLE” (4 of 14)

Posted by Paul Devlin:

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“It’s better than fighting and it’s better than shooting and stabbing each other.” Freestylers hone their skills in healthy, head-to-head competition.

The Making of Freestyle (continued)

I heard that Kevin Fitzgerald’s movie, Freestyle – The Art of Rhyme, had been accepted into the 1999 Urbanworld Film Festival in New York City. I went to see it. It was still messy, but it had been cut way down, and included some incredible performances. The movie won an award at the festival. I finally met Kevin at the screening. He had heard about my project, and we hung out, talking freestyling and movies. It seemed there would not be room enough for two freestyle movies, and Kevin clearly was way ahead. I decided to abandon my project.

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Freestyle – “SUPERNATURAL” (3 of 14)

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His name says it all when it comes of Freestyling. A true master of his art form.

The Making of Freestyle (continued)

After starting my own movie about Freestyle, I discovered there was another filmmaker, Kevin Fitzgerald (aka DJ Organic) who had already been shooting a movie on the same topic for about 5 years. I thought about abandoning my project, until someone showed me a bootlegged rough cut of Kevin’s movie. It was a mess and ran well over two hours. I stopped worrying about it.

Check out Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme.
Buy the DVD.