For a while, summer music festivals went something like this: the cool indie rock kids went to Coachella, and for everyone else, well, there was Wango Tango. But with the emergence of Rock the Bells, fans of (good) hip-hop finally get their annual day in the sun, enjoying a mix of the scene's finest mainstream and underground hip-hop artists. Joining this year's flawless roster (a repeat visit) is modern-day freestyle legend Supernatural, known for his interactive live performances, during which he'll rely on the crowd for topics to transform into seamless verses off the top of his head. I've seen the guy work his way through a dense crowd, freestyling about objects held up by audience members (everything from bags of weed to Nick Cannon posters); ask audiences for any three random words to rhyme about; and, my personal favorite, emulate the vocals and delivery of such big-time hip-hop artists as the Notorious B.I.G., ODB and Slick Rick. But that's nothing compared to what Supernat is attempting at Rock the Bells this weekend: breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest freestyle, a record currently held by Canadian MC D.O., who held on for eight hours and 45 minutes in 2003.
So how are you preparing for all of this?
I'm practicing everyday but I gotta make sure I'm rested properly: eat a good breakfast and just go with what I know, you know? The day before the show, I'm not doing anything. Just stay in my hotel, drink water, meditate, no smoking. I've got to be physically and mentally prepared for a long day. I've been waiting to do this for a long time now—this is what I do.
I've read that D.O. had observers write topics on a white board to ensure nothing was pre-meditated. How are you going to make sure you keep the material you're freestyling about fresh?
You know, a lot of people are asking me that question, but it's a freestyle thing. You repeat a lot of the same things within the span of a day. I'm having a conversation with the world and there's enough crazy shit in the world happening that I know I have more than enough to talk about. I'm not worried about keeping fresh. This is a good thing for hip-hop—people are very excited about it.
So where and how is this all going to take place?
There's one 15-minute break; go to the restroom, whatever. Water breaks are allowed, too, and this will all be in the VIP area, where I'll have a little center set up for me. People will be allowed to observe, but for the most part, I'm up there by myself the whole day—that's why I'm glad there are two shows.
How'd you decide to try to break the world record?
It's something I've had on my mind for a long time, even before Rock the Bells. At one time, I was going to do it in Times Square, but that didn't work out. Now that I've got the chance to do it, I'm going to go for it. I've got to challenge myself. I know I can work a show. I know I can do records. But doing this would be mentally challenging. And if you don't challenge yourself in life, nobody else will. It's like a self-test. There's nobody to help me—it's just me and the beats.
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