Is Learning to Rap Useful?
7th February 2024 | ⏰ 00:14:25
Is Learning to Rap Useful?
TLDR: The YouTuber, Olisa Odukwe, embarked on a 30-day challenge to learn freestyle rap, despite having no prior experience and being more inclined towards productivity and education. He faced initial difficulties and self-consciousness but gradually improved with practice and guidance from experienced freestylers. Along the way, he learned valuable lessons about staying in the flow, trusting his brain's auto-complete function, overcoming the cringe response, and recognizing that skills can be learned with dedication and practice.
In this 30-day journey, I embarked on an unconventional path to master freestyle rap, a skill seemingly far removed from my realm as a doctor and productivity enthusiast. Inspired by the mesmerizing performances of Chris Turner and Harry Mack, I sought to unravel the secrets of their craft and explore the potential benefits of freestyle rap beyond its entertainment value.
Day 1: Stepping into the Zone
With anticipation and trepidation, I had my first coaching session with Michael, a seasoned freestyle rapper and co-founder of Ultra Speaking. He guided me through the fundamentals, emphasizing the importance of reaching into the zone, finding the flow, and spitting bars with fire. Armed with a post-it note and a determination to conquer my self-consciousness, I began my daily practice, squeezing in 10 minutes of rapping in the shower, often feeling awkward and self-conscious, knowing my housemate was the only audience.
Week 1: Struggles and Frustrations
The initial week proved daunting. Despite my efforts, the gap between my skills and those of seasoned freestyle rappers seemed insurmountable. My practice sessions felt disjointed and uninspired. I shared my frustrations with Michael, expressing my doubts about making significant progress within the 30-day timeframe.
Discovering the Power of Rhyme
Michael shed light on the importance of understanding rhyme and how it forms the foundation of freestyle rap. He introduced me to the concept of dissecting words into their root sounds, enabling me to generate rhymes on the spot, regardless of whether they formed coherent phrases. This technique, combined with consistent practice, gradually eased my apprehension and allowed me to find my rhythm.
Week 2: Embracing the Flow Cycle
Determined to delve deeper into the intricacies of freestyle rap, I sought guidance from Gavin, a renowned instructor from FlowFam, a community dedicated to mastering the art of flow. Gavin introduced me to the "flow cycle," a four-stage process that encapsulates the journey from struggle to flow state. He emphasized the importance of embracing challenges, releasing judgment, and allowing creativity to flow freely without the constraints of self-criticism.
Conquering the Cringe Response
A significant hurdle in my freestyle rap journey was overcoming the cringe response, that internal voice that constantly critiques and discourages. To break free from this self-imposed barrier, Gavin and I engaged in scatting exercises, a technique involving the production of non-sensical sounds. Initially uncomfortable, these exercises gradually helped me embrace discomfort and focus on the process rather than the outcome.
Midway Reflections: Lessons Learned
As I approached the halfway point of my challenge, I took stock of the lessons I had gleaned thus far:
- Staying in the Zone: Maintaining focus and persisting through moments of struggle is essential to unlocking the flow state. Embracing the discomfort of producing nonsensical lyrics can lead to unexpected breakthroughs.
- Trusting the Brain's Autocomplete Function: Our brains possess a remarkable ability to generate coherent phrases and rhymes when we let go of control and allow our subconscious to take the lead. This realization encouraged me to embrace spontaneity and trust my instincts.
- Breaking Through the Cringe Response: Overcoming the fear of being judged and appearing cringe-worthy is crucial for unlocking creativity and authenticity. Embracing personal weirdness and authenticity fosters deeper connections with others.
- Freestyle Rap as a Learned Skill: Initially perceived as an impenetrable black box, freestyle rap can be mastered through dedicated practice and adherence to specific techniques. This realization inspired me to approach other seemingly complex skills with renewed confidence.
Final Session: Putting It All Together
In my final session, I collaborated with Michael and Tristan from Ultra Speaking during a live YouTube stream. We played a game called Blind Slideshow, where random images prompted us to freestyle rap on the spot. While my performance was far from perfect, I felt a sense of accomplishment, knowing that I had come a long way since my initial fumbling attempts.
Reflections and Conclusion
My 30-day freestyle rap journey was an exercise in stepping outside my comfort zone, embracing discomfort, and discovering hidden reservoirs of creativity. While I may never grace the stage as a professional freestyle rapper, the experience has left an indelible mark on my approach to learning and personal growth. The lessons I learned about trusting my brain's autocomplete function, breaking through the cringe response, and viewing complex skills as learnable challenges have extended far beyond the realm of freestyle rap.
This journey has reinforced my belief in the transformative power of lifelong learning. With dedication and an open mind, we can unlock new dimensions of our potential and experience the joy of embracing new challenges.
- Why did you decide to embark on this freestyle rap journey?
I've always been a fan of learning cool and interesting skills, even if they don't have any practical benefits. I find the process of learning something new to be enjoyable and fulfilling.
I was particularly drawn to freestyle rap because I'm fascinated by the ability to create something on the spot, to weave words and rhymes together effortlessly. It seemed like a challenging but rewarding pursuit.
- What were the biggest challenges you faced while learning to freestyle rap?
Initially, I struggled with self-consciousness and the fear of being judged. It felt awkward and embarrassing to rap, especially when I wasn't very good at it.
Overcoming this mental barrier was crucial. I had to learn to embrace the discomfort and keep practicing, even when I made mistakes.
Another challenge was learning how to think on my feet and come up with rhymes and wordplay spontaneously. This required practice and training my brain to think in a more creative and fluid way.
- What techniques or strategies did you find most helpful in improving your freestyle rap skills?
Practicing regularly was essential. I tried to rap for at least 10 minutes each day, even if it was just in the shower or while driving.
I also found it helpful to listen to and study the work of experienced freestyle rappers. I paid attention to their flow, rhyme schemes, and wordplay, and tried to incorporate elements of their style into my own rapping.
Additionally, I took online courses and attended workshops on freestyle rap, which provided structured guidance and feedback.
- What were some of the key lessons you learned during your freestyle rap journey?
The importance of staying in the zone and maintaining the flow, even when struggling to come up with rhymes.
Trusting my brain's auto-complete function and letting go of the need to control every word and rhyme.
Embracing the cringe response and overcoming the fear of being judged.
Recognizing that freestyle rap can be learned and improved with practice and dedication.
- How has learning to freestyle rap impacted other areas of your life?
Freestyle rap has helped me become more comfortable with public speaking and expressing myself creatively.
It has also improved my ability to think on my feet and come up with creative solutions to problems.
Additionally, I've found that the skills I've learned through freestyle rap, such as staying in the flow and embracing discomfort, are transferable to other aspects of life and help me navigate challenges more effectively.