The freestyle can be found and listened to here. You will appreciate this post far more if you listen to it first!
Freestyles by grime/rap artists are often brutally honest, discussing hard-hitting topics. They combine clever wordplay with amazing instrumentals to get their point across. One such freestyle that gripped me was Krept (of Krept & Konan) who did a freestyle named ‘Last Night in Lagos’. It’s not fast paced, and has no hook; but the storytelling and the messages Krept conveys really have an impact on their listener. He tells a number of stories in this song, each one with a profound meaning behind it.
He starts off talking about something that affects everyone: the monotonous cycle of getting money through a boring job, just to pay bills, then going out to work again. He describes it in general to the listener, as if he’s talking about them. He describes the average worker as being ‘lifeless’, saying they earn the money, pay all their bills, just to end up ‘back in minus’, meaning you have to start ‘moving the tightest’. ‘For the rest of your life, this cycle repeats’, and Krept says that’s why he ‘lives, eats, breathes’ his music, because he never wants that lifestyle. But he’s also saying it doesn’t have to be this way for these people, and tries to inspire you to ‘get out of your situation’. To do this he describes the house of Raheem Sterling, a footballer, including the pool, cinema, bar, tanning room, and barber. The sort of luxuries you can have too, if you work hard enough for them.
At one point in this freestyle, he is discussing his family. He says his mum had to ‘work when her mum died’, adding that after ‘all those years in that company, still no promotion’. His hard-hitting response to this is, ‘I don’t know who’s in the charge there, but this is for you; before I die, I’m gonna make sure she’s richer than you’. He goes on to describe how he has recently paid for a family funeral. His ‘mum broke down thinking about the funeral costs’, but Krept said ‘“mum I got this, what you think I’m doing this for?”’ You are guaranteed to get goosebumps when you hear this. It’s such amazing storytelling; it causes us to really relate to Krept, as he lets us in on a very personal part of this life. As well as this, we can’t help but respect for him as we learn about the sort of person he is; he prioritises his family and whilst he does mention how much money he’s made, he tells us that he uses it to help his family. Another line earlier in his freestyle he says ‘fuck these chains n—–, they don’t mean shit to me, this might be rich to you, this ain’t rich to me, until my people good I don’t see victory’. He values the wellbeing of his friends and family above his materialistic wealth which is a rare thing to see in a world of hip hop and rap which is so often centred on personal success.
Krept acknowledges some dark things in this song too. He discusses how girls sell themselves (referring to prostitution) because they’ve been abused at home. He references how he and his friends once shot someone and were lucky not to have killed him; he also mentions how there are known ‘killers’ in the area of London he is from.
The final word on the stories told in this freestyle is the acknowledgement Krept makes to his success, which he owes entirely to his music. He says he’s made ‘quarter million (£250,000) in two months’, and now he’s chilling at ‘ASAP’s house’ and ‘rolling through the 6 with Skeppy and Drizzy’ (Skepta and Drake). He also mentions Chris Brown. With all this mentioned, his last few lines a clear; he ‘never takes days off’, and that’s why he’s so successful.
‘They start moving backwards, so watch what I say next: they slip up as pupils, eat desserts when they’re stressed, ’cause they lived with the devil, hope you caught what I said.’ [palindromes: slip up = pupils, desserts = stressed, lived = devil]
‘Think you’re superman? Well you don’t wanna bump into Krept tonight’ (kryptonite)
‘Fuck a street fighter, my G’s got a weapon, think it’s a game, until your life gets taken’ (tekken)
‘Don’t stab me in the back, you don’t want to see my akhi punch ya’ (acupuncture)
‘I can throw U P, but you still ain’t catching up’
‘Just opened up for Breezy like the room stunk’ (febreze)
This freestyle is full of very clever wordplay, but these are the most notable examples.