Answers for questions Vol. 126

What’s really good everyone?
I’m on the verge of yet another fucking head cold so, admittedly, I’mkinda in a crappy mood. How this will translate into this post, we shall see. My guess? I’m gonna be kind of a dick but , hey, you never know. Regardless, i still love you all like my unborn seeds and I’m always accepting of any questions you may have to ask me. So, if you got any questions, send them my way. Email them to or leave them in the comments below.
But, for now, let’s get this shit over with…

What are your views on freestyling? It seems to me that sometimes when a rapper is “freestyling” their rhymes are just too tight. Like, there’s no way they are making something up this complex on the spot. I saw Del, who has been in the game forever, freestyling on tv the other day and while it was decent, it was nowhere up to par with the rest of his recorded work. You could tell he was making it up on the spot. it felt real. Now when I have seen certain people on Pitchfork selector, let’s use the El-P/Despot Selector, as a reference. Both of their verses are really tight, like so tight, it didn’t seem like it was made up on the spot. I know there was something back when their records dropped when El and Killer Mike were both on Sway’s show and they both kind of politely refused to freestyle on the spot. On Selector though, it’s supposed to be “freestyle”, but it made me wonder if they had some extra time to prepare for it and thus were not really doing it off the top of their head. Not to knock Despot/El-P, both are amazing rappers and El is up there with my favorite rappers of all time. I could care less if it wasn’t truly freestyle, dude can do no wrong in my book. I guess what I am getting at is, it possible to rap that tight off the top of your head? Can you tell when someone is freestyling and when some of it is pre-written or partially written?

Another good example is the recent “Art of Rap” doc. Some of the dudes on there go on for a couple of minutes(Kanye and Eminem for example) and it just sounds too good to be true. What do you think, are these guys just truly that mind boggling amazing at freestyling? or is there a grey area where it is hard to tell or where because of the situation they might have a little extra time to prepare because it is not technically a battle, and they know it is coming and have time to prepare?

What you’re trying to decipher is the difference between a written and a rhyme that’s off the top of the head. 98% of the time, when a rapper is kicking a verse on a radio show that seems to be good to be off the dome, that’s because it’s not. The term “Freestyle” used to mean just going off, unprepared but over time that’s changed. Most of the time people just kick an obviously pre-written verse (that, under no guise they are trying to pass off as a freestyle) or they go off the top and it’s very clear that’s what they’re doing.
That said, there are a select few rappers out there who can actually rap off the top of the head so well that it could, conceivably seem like a written. Contrary to popular belief though, it’s way rarer than you think. Older battle dudes like Supernatural and Juice were two guys considered some of the best freestylers. If you listen to those two dudes and see what they did, then compare other who kick so called “off the dome” raps, you will notice a difference.

There’s just a limit to what the human brain can do. If a persons verse is full of well set up punchlines that lead into other punch lines and intricate flows? It’s probably a written. I’ve heard stories of guys like Mikah 9 ( from Freestyle Fellowship) doing insane shit off the dome but I’ve never witnessed it personally. Though, I tend to believe it cause that dude was somewhat of a sick genius.
So, to answer your question, if it feels to good to be true, it usually is.
The same applies to battles. It seems, as battling has picked up popularity, there have been less off the dome rappers than ever. Shit like grind time is all written and practiced verses.

hey, blockhead. if you had no other choice, would you rather only sample metal or techno music to make your beats? hopefully this will never happen, but you’ve got to be prepared for the worst situations.

Hey blockhead, if you had to only eat one food ever again would it be liver or pig balls?

Hey blockhead, if you could only wipe you ass with one thing would it be a flaming , oily rag or your mom’s face?

hey blockhead, if you had to kill your newborn child, would you rather stomp it to death or punch it to death?

Listen, I take all questions. I’m not offended by anything but these “would you rather” questions where I’m offered two things I’d never do under any circumstance are fucking corny. Not cause of what they’re asking but cause these’s no wiggle room in the responses. Both answers are me being like “well, that would suck but I guess i choose this cause of that”.
So, I choose Heavy Metal cause at least there would be downtempo parts.

Hey Blockhead, How old were you the FIRST time you ever moved out of your parents house? How did you feel? Where did you move to? and did you end up moving back?

I had an unusual situation with that as I moved out of my parents house around the time I was 20…but I moved into an apartment in the building I grew up in (my parents owned the building). So, in a way, it was like having my own clubhouse. It didn’t feel like much cause I hadn’t truly left the nest. I paid a meager rent and pretty much had tons of fun there for about 5 years until my mom got sick of me sneaking into her house and eating all her food (as well as losing money from my low rent) and I moved out to my own apartment around 2002. 9/11 bought the prices down in downtown NYC heavily and I jumped on a deal for the apartment I still live in to this very day.
A side note, I’ve noticed, more than most cities, people will live with their parents for a long time in NY. It’s mostly cause rents are so high and location is so important. I was one of my first friends to have my own place (even though it was still in my childhood building). To this day I have plenty of friends who have moved out , moved back in with their parents and moved out again. That’s just kinda how it is out here.

This one may be a shot in the dark Block, But do you know by chance what Cool Calm Pete is doing? I only ask because maybe you ran in the same circles or something once, I’m a huge fan of his early work but it seems after 2009 he hasn’t really produced anything other than those hour long mixups, I am simply curious if you ever knew him or know what hes up to, He seems like an elusive dude.

I actually ran into Pete at a bar a few years ago. He seemed to be doing well. he definitely had a super hot girlfriend (props on that, bro!). We spoke for a little bit and he said he had been doing design work so the music had kinda fallen to side. It happens. It sounded like he was actually really successful so it would appear he made the right choice. It’s not easy to maintain inspiration when you’re getting little in return for your endeavors. Luckily for Pete, he actually had a serious skill to fall back on so he’s doing better than 99% of the rappers he came up with. Pete’s a really good dude though and I was happy to see he was doing well in life beyond the music.

when youre on a bigger tour, like your next one in march, what are you doing apart from the shows? are you mostly chilling in the hotel, do you just walk through the city or do you have people you know at most of the places? or is it a mix of all three?

The misconceptions of touring are deep. I think people feel like it’s a lavish party that only stops for that hour you’re on stage. Truth be told, it’s pretty fucking lonely and boring. I don’t tour with anyone (meaning, I’m a one person act) so I generally just arrive in a city, check into the hotel, loaf around there for a bit then go do soundcheck at whatever venue I’m playing at. This is one of those things where you’re given a window of time to show up and it almost always results in waiting around…for hours. In fact, many times, I’ve gone for a soundcheck, waited for hours and then I’m told “oh, it’s cool…you don’t need a soundcheck…”.
In the typical city I’m not familiar with, I’ll basically just go from the venue to the hotel and that’s it. Aside from eating dinner with either the promoter or the other acts performing that night, I’m pretty much on my own. To be honest, some of the most boring times of my life have been spent backstage at in a city where i don’t know anyone. Just chilling there, alone, eating hummus and carrots until i have to perform. Those nights suck. It’s kinda the reasons I’d rather just chill behind the merch table on most nights. At least there is activity out there and I can talk to fans.
There are a few cities in the country where I actually have some friends though and , when I’m in those, I chill with my friends as much as possible. Before the show and after the show.

As a self-employed producer how do report your income at the end of the year?

Do you fill out a 1040A or something?

What types of things can your write off?

How much goes “under the table” so to speak?

Timely question.
I pay a shitload of taxes. Because most of the money I receive isn’t taxed up front, what i usually do is just pay “estimated taxes” over the year. Pretty much just trying to guess what my income for that year will be based on what i made the year before. The problem with that is that my yearly income jumps all over the place. Some years are great, others are not. I forget what the actual form is called that I fill out but I have an accountant so , it get’s handled.
As for write offs…everything. Travel (if i spend a penny on anything while on the road, i write it off), most things in my home (internet, phone, cable) cause i work from home, clothing, anything I apply towards my music (this could be a usb wire, musical equipment, or even a record). Basically, if it can be somehow described as an expense , I’m writing it off.

As for “under the table” stuff, I’d rather not speak of that in a public forum. So, for the sake of this answer, every penny is accounted for. Obviously.

How hard is Despot fucking with everyone in this interview?

He’s actually really like that. That’s part of his majesty.

23 thoughts on “Answers for questions Vol. 126

  1. Hey Blockhead, who are your favorite artists you have worked with and why? What artists would you like to work with that you haven’t yet and why ? Keep making great music

    • This is a fairly frequently asked question that I’ve covered a few times so I’ll just answer i here.
      Aesop has been my favorite artist to work with. Mostly cause we’re friends outside of music and cause we worked together for so long.
      As for artist I’d like to work with? Danny brown, homeboy sandman, Doom, Ghostface, Mystikal, suga free, Gunplay to name a few.

  2. I’m glad someone asked the freestyle question because I’ve noticed that a lot lately too. A lot of battles lately are just two people reciting a lot of pre-writtens they memorized the night before (a la Canibus fiasco). I was there in 2006 when Supernat broke the world record, that shit was ill as fuck. Every time I would wander into his tent he would be on some off the top shit, just tellin stories that happened to be in rhyme form. Like Wordsworth from Heathcliff, speaking in rhyme so much that it becomes second nature.
    You can totally tell when someone is off the dome too because they might make mistakes, or make up words just to make something fit. Usually a rapper will have a crutch verse that they fall back on when their mind blanks until they catch up, like Eyedea’s was “everytime I grab the mic” or some variation of that. Then when they get back in the zone they kill it. There’s a natural rhythm to it that you can tell, like a rubberband effect. If everything they spit is on point with zero mistakes, zero lag, then it’s probably written.


  4. I wish that question about Cool Calm Pete had inquired about Babbletron in general. Jaymanila is a god damn phantom that as far as the internet in concerned, might as well not have a social security number and that’s a shame cause his voice, content, flow, and everything else was not to be fucked with in my opinion. When I found out dude was white, I didn’t believe it. Still don’t for disbelief’s sake. And DJ Pre, I’ve found even less about, besides a solo instrumental album he did that I found on yahoo answers. I’ll send this to your email, even though I generally don’t like to ask this sort of question cause I am (Dr.)ShitOrGetOffTheCock, after all. Just thought it pertinent to make note of it in the comments.

    • I had the exact same experience regarding Jaymanila, cant find any info on him now. Not even the Modern Shark (Junk Science) crew seem to be in contact with him (of course I could be wrong on that one). Mechanical Royalty was close to perfection, as was “Lost” by CCP. Probably my all-time favourites.

  5. Every time I have seen Supernatural live, he does this thing where he asks the audience to pull whatever they have in their pockets out, and hold it up where he can see it. He then freestyles, finding a way to rhyme each item or tie them into a bigger story. I guess he probably sees lighters, cigarettes and money all the time, so he has some lines prepared, but there is usually some really unexpected shit too. Good times.

  6. RE: Freestyling, I thought it was a known common practice for rappers to think up their lines beforehand. Obviously off the top of the head raps are really noticeable because they are so bad.

    Being from Minneapolis, I do often wonder about how many of Eyedea’s freestyles he thought up beforehand. He was the best I’ve ever seen hands down. He used to ask the audience for a subject to freestyle about and then just go off about it. I wonder if he’d just always pretend to hear something he had pre-planned, or had his freestyles general enough to quickly tailor them to whatever subject, or if he was really just that good at it. In any case, hats off to how well he pulled off those performances. RIP.

    • When rappers write songs or freestyle a lot, certain word associations will be closer to the tip of their tongue and therefore easier to spit in the moment. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a written. Like I said in my above comment, they have crutch verses that they fall back on too. This is how you know they’re truly freestyling rather than just saying something they rehearsed a lot (also when you hear someone spit a verse that sounds too good to be true and then 3 months later you hear the exact verse verbatim in one of their songs, it’s obviously a written).
      You’re lucky you got to see Eyedea, he’s one of my favorite rappers ever. I’m kicking myself for not seeing him and Abilities when he came out to Cali for the ’09 Rock the Bells.

  7. Hey Block, I have two short questions (actually, the first is a couple rolled into one)…
    1: What are you’re feelings on tattoos? Do you have any? I feel as if it has become more trendy within the past few years to get them. Also, do you find tattoos on women sexy?
    2: If you take off you’re hat, how much hair is there?

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