By sweeneykovar | August 22nd, 2012
To me, this kind of track exemplifies what the mixtape freestyle (not an actual freestyle, more of a genre-within-a-genre) can allow space for.
My favorite instances of a rapper singing over another’s instrumental found the visiting MC starting off from where the original took the track. Whether it was flipping some of the original flows in a new direction or reinterpreting the song’s subject, the mixtape arena was a place where MCs could have fun without having to worry about appealing to anyone but their core audience.
Lately, as in the past few years, the freestyle has gotten lamer and less creative. You have to wade through many brainless rehashes of mediocre songs to find an inspired cut, which is exactly what Brother Ali’s “4th King” is.
Taking the instrumental from Rick Ross’ “3 Kings,” a lukewarm track off the rotund rhymer’s God Forgives, I Don’t album that features Jay-Z and Dr. Dre, Brother Ali uses his homie hook-up with the track’s producer Jake One to rap his ass off for nearly three minutes. Borrowing from some of the originals verse structure, Ali spits “the best verse on a song [he] ain’t even on,” involving the Occupy movement and his incessant independent grind.