Freestyle Rapper Supernatural: 'S.P.I.T.' Day to Day profiles hip-hop artist Supernatural, who rose to prominence as an improvisational "freestyle" artist. The rapper is expanding into written music with his new album S.P.I.T.

Freestyle Rapper Supernatural: 'S.P.I.T.'

Freestyle Rapper Supernatural: 'S.P.I.T.'

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Day to Day profiles hip-hop artist Supernatural, who rose to prominence as an improvisational "freestyle" artist. The rapper is expanding into written music with his new album S.P.I.T.

Rapper Supernatural at the NPR West studios in Culver City, Calif. Rob Sachs, NPR hide caption

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Rob Sachs, NPR


Now and then, DAY TO DAY spends a little time with the people who shape our musical landscape. Today we bring you an artist whose skill and agility is influential, but whose name you might not know.

SUPERNATURAL (Rapper): My name is Supernatural, and I am a freestyle scientist, a recording artist.

(Rapping) I could spit a little ball like seven levels fall. Supernatural is the tsar here on NPR. Every time that I drop it full through the fiber optics, when it comes to freestyling they're giving me any topics.

Freestyling is basically coming off the head, impromptu rhyming, you know, off-the-cuff rhyming.

(Soundbite of song)

SUPERNATURAL: (Rapping) Never readin'. I competed. Leave the suckers bleedin'. I looked up my man Alex from Sweden.

A free expression of yourself through rhyme.

(Soundbite of song)

SUPERNATURAL: (Rapping) Every time that I'm housin', it's created by the brother Falcon. Love the way I come with the freestyle skills with the hookin'. Kickin' up with the brothers from Brooklyn. Slide, slippity-slide when I ride. Suckers see me comin' and they got to run and hide 'cause that's the way that I'm livin' when I'm slammin'. You know that the Supernat is jammin'. (Scratching) One, two.

I've been doing this since I was 12 years old in the early '80s. I used to read a rhyming dictionary. You know, that's part of practice.

(Soundbite of song)

SUPERNATURAL: (Rapping) I say one, two, one, two. Supernat's about to spin a little lyric for you. Now every time that I rock, I can't see no hood. Going to spin a little while and the system sound good. Loud and clear. Yo, I show no fear. Can you all hear every word inside your ear?

Got a routine called "Anything" where I let people pull things out of their pockets and I rhyme about 'em like right there on the spot.

(Soundbite of song)

SUPERNATURAL: (Rapping) My name's Supernatural. You're one of the (unintelligible). I got the microphone and I put together words. I can rhyme about anything when I start to blast. I can rhyme about the blunts. I can rhyme about the hats. I can rhyme about the lighter. Yo, I keep it tighter. Put 'em in the air one time if you're not a fighter. ...(Unintelligible) lyrics break it down. Then I will dismantle ...(unintelligible) the lighters. Let me see the candles...

CHIDEYA: Supernatural gained prominence in the early 1990s. He triumphed in emcee battles like the kind featured in Eminem's movie "8 Mile."

(Soundbite of "8 Mile")

SUPERNATURAL: (Rapping) Ward, I think you were a little hard on the Beaver. So where's Eddie Haskell, Wally and Miss Cleaver?

Far before "8 Mile" came out, you know, that was my life. You know, that's how I made my bread and butter.

(Soundbite of song)

SUPERNATURAL: (Rapping) Yeah, move it back, something like this. Grab the microphone. Yo, let me start to get this. Now let me take my hood off. You got the nerve. You're not a freestylin' ...(unintelligible). Now you're getting served.

Battling is a big aspect and a big part of hip-hop culture, and it always has been. And you know, hip-hop has always been a competitive thing, and you've had crews and cliques and clans that, you know, put their skills against one another.

(Soundbite of song)

SUPERNATURAL: (Rapping) Now ...(unintelligible). Now you tried to dis me. Now about to lift it here, take it to 360. Watch close. Yeah. Brother, when he was rocking his rhymes, you couldn't hear his voice but you're hearing mine loud and clear. These freestyle ...(unintelligible). He said I was a emcee that got dropped off Elektra. Yo, that was cool. You tried to dis me but I bought your wax and I used it for a Frisbee. Yeah.

CHIDEYA: These days, Supernatural is trying to expand beyond battling. He's written every song on his new CD, except for one. It's a freestyle battle with himself.

SUPERNATURAL: That song was all done off the head in the studio, and that's the way we kept it. So the entire song--hook, the verses, the three verses and the hooks were all done on the spot.

(Soundbite of song)

SUPERNATURAL: (Rapping) Every rhyme you kick, I don't feel it. I could break it down, reverse it, take it and rebuild it, get on it, throw it back to you, throw it back to me, and I will captivate and catch your brain.

CHIDEYA: At 35, Supernatural's an old hip-hop warrior. He's hoping to nail down a legacy by experimenting with live music and teaching his 14-year-old son what he knows.

(Soundbite of song)

SUPERNATURAL: (Rapping) Your mind's not big; your brain is too small. You don't know yourself like yourself. Every day I battle myself and I've sworn to myself that I would never get caught. In my mental is where most of my battles is fought. If you don't know yourself like yourself, every day I battle myself...

CHIDEYA: Rapper Supernatural. His new album is called "S.P.I.T."; that stands for `spiritual poetry ignites thought.'

DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News. I'm Farai Chideya.

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