Freestyle PhD

Hip-Hop Summit / Live Rap Battle Recording
Santa Barbara, California

My freestyle rapping skills leave much to be desired. I tend to focus on rapping to my dog and never with an audience. Most of my lyrics rhyme with dog:

Hey little Bud-dog
why you sitting there like a log
why don’t you take a seat
then maybe I’ll give you a treat.

I’m guessing I would get creamed in a classic freestyle rap battle. Now I know why! Turns out my executive level functions are too robust and won’t allow my brain to free associate effectively. That’s the only thing that’s stopping me. 😉

A few weeks ago, the journal Nature featured a study about how the brains of skilled freestyle rap artists may function while they are busting a rhyme. The study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to monitor brain activity while a subject performed a freestyle improvised rap or a memorized rap. The study aimed to uncover what areas of the brain may be involved in the early improvisation and rhyme connections that are made.

I am not an MRI expert so I will leave you with the conclusions of the study. They found that areas of the brain responsible for higher executive processes are not as active during improvisation. They also found strong lateralization in language and motor areas in the left hemisphere of the brain. This suggests that maybe the “zone” rappers find themselves in when coming up with lyrics is a result of less conscious control and more diverse use of other areas of their brain.

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