Readers familiar with the Freestyle of the Week are no doubt already adjusted to the fact that said freestyles do not need to be from said week, nor do they come necessarily weekly, although I have sporadic jags of punctuality on occasion.
There is no doubt then, as well, that these very same readers are familiar with my quixotic mission to reinstate the true definition of a freestyle, which has come to mean rapping on the spot–something correctly called “off the top” or “off the dome”–rather than its original definition, a rhyme about anything meant to show off the rapper’s skills and be easily utilized on a myriad of beats. They are bars free of style, an instant aural resume for whatever track is dug out of the crates.
A careful listen to this Emilio Rojas verse, then, should cause the reader great trepidation and perhaps some anger over my own hypocrisy. For, unless Rojas has some bars about relationship problems–relatively gripping ones, at that, which we will get to after the existential problem at hand is handled–that he likes to keep handy, the emotional arrow in his freestyle quiver, this cut most certainly is not free of style, and, if anything, could most likely be accurately called a remix. So why, then, did it find its way to the Freestyle of the Week? Three reasons:
Reason One: I grew up in Rochester, and I love “Climax,” and I am not going to miss the opportunity to talk about them when they are both together on the same song.
Reason Two: In every instance where I have seen the song named, it is referred to as “Climax Freestyle,” thereby allowing me to follow the letter, but not the spirit, of this space.
Reason Three: It’s my column.
Stacked tight and dirty along the high falls of the Genesee River, Rochester is a city that is comfortable punching above its weight class; everything from its architecture to its art to its homicide rate screams King-Hell Metropolis, even if it tips the scales at a little over 200,000 souls. Much like Buffalo, it carries a distinctly Rust Belt feel, as well as a fierce pride for carving a life for itself on the harsh edges of the North Coast and Niagara Frontier, buried in snow and standing an entire geopolitical world away from the five headed behemoth to its southeast. Numerous hip-hop figures have come from the Flower City, most notably DJ Green Lantern, and Rojas is among the best. He has added a second shade as of late, a more sluggish, trap-lite kind of flow in his repertoire–listen to his whip tight delivery on “That Time” and the more recent “Breaking Point” followed by “Pussy and Cologne,” off the same project, for juxtaposition–but sticks to the more hard line East Coast sensibility that is his calling card here. Diplo’s throbbing, squirming, sexually charged production is not an easy place to lay a rhyme, but Rojas succeeds, painting a fairly convincing picture of the kind of difficult relationship that he is wont to rhyme about, with heart on his sleeve lines that are touching, relatable, and not too cliche, including, among them, “no accident, it was intentional, you found out about it cause I meant you too,” and “I’m good at making you smile/You’re better at making me cry/You good at making me honest/But she better at making me lie.” Rojas builds some emotional tension, then wisely lets Usher take back over, including his two climactic bridges as the cherries on top.
It is a testament to Rojas’ gift for developing emotionally involving verses that “Climax Freestyle” seems to be entirely his song, despite his appearing on only roughly a third of it. Still, while a lack of a second verse is somewhat of a disappointment, Usher’s original is more than a fair substitute.
“Climax Freestyle” receives a PARL
Download- Emilio Rojas, “Climax Freestyle”
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