If you’re a fan of radio talk shows and hip-hop then you’ve no doubt by now heard of Sway in the Morning, a show hosted on Shade 45 SiriusXM radio. Being a former rapper himself, Sway brings on various guests from the hip hop industry to interview during the morning commute. If a rapper is being interviewed it is almost guaranteed that Sway challenges them to freestyle, whether it be a couple of bars or an attempt at the Five Fingers of Death, a segment in which Sway’s dj throws on five random beats for the rapper to freestyle over in succession. I have assembled for your viewing pleasure a list of ten such freestyles that stand out amongst the rest, whether it is because of their creativity, flow or both. Enjoy!
- Meek Mill and Lil Snupe
Sway threw on Dr. Dre’s “Deep Cover” for Meek and the late Lil Snupe to spit over back during the 2013 All-Star Weekend. For those that don’t know, Meek is a world-class freestyler, spitting fire verses whenever he is called upon to do so, and this is no exception. The poor mic quality makes it a little difficult to listen to Meek go off, but he absolutely kills his turn over the beat. Furthermore, while Lil Snupe’s skills weren’t quite as refined as Milly’s, his ability to spit a couple lines about a subject that’s thrown at him on the spot is quite impressive. He’s able to draw some inspiration from Bob Marley and then switch his train of thought over to Kim Kardashian immediately, quite the impressive feat.
- Earl Sweatshirt
From the get go Earl displays his full array of rapping skills, fitting his usual lackadaisical flow over the beat right away. His thought process is impressive as he freestyles about his life as a rapper and is able to throw in clever lines like the one about Corey Duffel (professional skater) and his tight pants. Freestyling is an art, and Earl demonstrates his ability quite effectively. Of course it is a bit offsetting that he had to snub a few beats before finding one that he liked, as this isn’t truly the freestyling way, but he did end up settling on a dope remix of “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” so it was worth it.
- Danny Brown
While it would have been sick to hear Danny go over the Five Fingers of Death, there are no complaints when it comes to this freestyle. Danny’s typical flow is flawless throughout and his rhymes are clever to boot. He even get’s in a line about Kathy Griffin, which for those of you who don’t know, is someone he and ASAP Rocky have both agreed they would bang. The lack of hesitation during his freestyle makes it seem like a studio recording, one I definitely wouldn’t mind copping, but this is definitely a freestyle.
- Chris Brown
News flash: Chris Brown has bars. The R&B singer demonstrates his rapping skills over “Started From the Bottom,” which in context is quite humorous because of his beef with Drake at the time. While it is short, Brown’s freestyle features a good flow and lyrics that come together nicely. On top of it all, is this a diss? He certainly seems to be calling someone out with his rhymes, but we may never know (money’s on Drake). All in all, after this I wouldn’t mind hearing Chris Brown rap more than on the occasional feature.
- Damian Lillard
Wow, two non-rappers making this list, who would’ve thought. Dame actually spits one of the best freestyles that has ever graced Sway’s microphone, which is impressive for a NBA player. His Oakland upbringing plays into his bars as he raps about coming up in Oakland and the struggles that he faced. “You’re spittin’ better than these rappers…” was Sways reaction, and I think it’s a suitable one. Fingers crossed that Dame finds time in the offseason to drop a mixtape.
- Vince Staples
The Long Beach native brings in his usual lyrics about violence and drugs into this freestyle, which seems to go on and on thanks to his ability to come up with rhymes on the spot. Vince’s flow is no different from that of his studio work, something that can prove to be difficult for rappers when they freestyle. Staples is also able to rap out of pocket on topics that Sway throws at him while he’s in the middle of his freestyle, which prompts Sway to comment on how impressive an ability this is, even though Vince throws in a lot of Kanye references. Hopefully we get some more of this Vince on his upcoming album.
- ASAP Ferg
ASAP Mob’s ability to freestyle is quite uncanny as shown in various radio show freestyles, and this is no different. Fergenstein starts off slow, but as the beat builds so does his confidence and flow. The seamless change from his flow on the first beat to his flow on the second is the most impressive part of this freestyle, as this is no easy feat. His lyrics are as outrageous as usual, and his ability to continue for as long as he did is fantastic. It’s easy to tell he’s having a good time freestyling as well, and he even comments on this fact. If only he hadn’t handed over the mic to Marty Baller we might have gotten to hear some more ingenious Ferg.
Logic is the first rapper on this list to go over the Five Fingers of Death, and boy is it something. Logic doesn’t stop once during all five beats, showing off his mastery of language. His flow carries over from beat to beat flawlessly and he even is able to change it up to fit better to the current beat while he’s rapping. Logic’s energy is noted later in the interview, and this is apparent throughout his freestyle. Sway even goes off afterwards about how impressed he is, something that doesn’t happen often on the show.
- King Los
Damn. This is easily the hardest Five Fingers of Death on Sway in the Morning. Just like Vince, Los’ freestyle sounds like it was prepared beforehand even though the occasional slip solidifies that this is indeed off the top. His flow switches are elegant, fitting each of the beats perfectly. And right when you think it couldn’t get better, Los’ ability to craft full verses from single words is awe-inspiring. This is hands down one of the most impressive freestyles out there, no question about it.
- Childish Gambino
And right when you thought it couldn’t get any better Gambino hops on “Pound Cake” and spits one of the most thought provoking and down right brilliant freestyles to have ever graced the airwaves. This sounds like Gambino spent weeks writing and practicing until it was flawless. The flow switch ups are perfect, and the section where he transitions from talking to rapping flawlessly only adds to the feeling that this is a true freestyle. Childish is truly one of the greatest wordsmiths in the game right now, and this only adds to that title.
And there it is, a list of ten Sway freestyles that you need to do yourself the favor of watching. Freestyling is an underappreciated art form, and just as Sway says, rappers need to step up their game and working on them. More are sure to pop up in the future and there are certainly some other gems already out there, so let us know if we missed any.