It's a high compliment when Westwood has you come spit in his home studio, shelves of vinyl and neon lights adorning the walls. In this "Crib Session" from July, Joey Bada$$ steps up, looking fresh as ever in a bucket hat and vintage Toyota jacket. Introduced by Tim as Joey "BadARSE," the Brooklyn kid connects with his UK fanbase as he intros his freestyle repeating, "it's a badman ting, it's a badman ting." Badman indeed -- Joey shows us why he's been killin' 16s since he was 16.
The 10 Hottest Freestyles On Tim Westwood TV
In his Westwood debut, Cleveland's Machine Gun Kelly welcomes himself as the underground champion of the world over "H to the Izzo." After making the Queen of England his mistress, he preludes the next beat by saying he can't do it quite like that other white rapper who has dominated the Westwood sessions. Not so fast. By the smile on his face at the end of the clip, he knows he came mighty close.
Drake came on Westwood's Radio 1Xtra show right before he was about take the world by storm with Thank Me Later. Lil Wayne let Drizzy know Westwood was official Young Money fam, and he felt obligated to lay down a verse off the dome. Drake doesn't even need a beat here. He slows up a couple times, but his ability to think on his feet is highly impressive, as seen by Westwood's applause at the end of the clip.
The Game & LA Kingz
While in the UK for his Blood Money tour earlier this year, The Game stops by Westwood's crib with his LA Kingz crew, whose faces are covered by gold-zippered ski masks. Game delivers a totally irreverent third person verse, taking shots at Kanye, two Kardashians (or three, if you count Kris Jenner), and Suge Knight. The masked villains in the back hold their own, but this session is clearly Game's attempt to put Blood Money back on the map.
This one might be the least familiar to some, but Wiley is THE superstar MC in London. Coming up on pirate radio, it was somewhat controversial for the Godfather of Grime to take the mic at BBC, but it's clear he wanted to make a big statement with his debut freestyle on Radio 1Xtra. For 10+ minutes, Wiley doesn't waste a single breath. Once you wrap your ears around his East London accent and brutal, rapidfire delivery, his skills cannot be denied.
Right off the bat, A$AP is right at home in London, owning whatever beat Westwood sends his way. Going off the top of the dome, Rocky asks for a topic, and Westwood gives him "bein' A$AP Rocky, kid!" No issue there: Flacko drops his usual fare of crew love, swag boastin', and expensive fashion accessories from all over the globe. Incredible back & forth charisma between the two. Pure class.
Method Man, U-God, and Masta Killa
Three of Wu-Tang's finest in one clip, as Method Man, U-God, and Masta Killa take over the studio back in 2011. All three rappers spit wisdom proper to industry veterans. The session quickly turns into the Meth show, as he's absolutely fired up and prompts Westwood to keep feeding him beats. He finishes over Tyler's "Yonkers," letting everybody know the Wu ain't going nowhere.
This one from back in '05 boasts a youthful Kanye who's having the time of his life donning Louis Vutton in London town. He's as cocky as ever, flaunting his celebrity as he freestyles over his own productions such as "Dreams" and "Encore." He goes for over 13 minutes without showing any signs of fatigue, some hilarious improv along the way.
No guest has as much fun on Westwood as Snoop Doggy Dogg, as seen when he puts on his best British persona and says "cheerio" to the entire 1Xtra production team. Snoop begins this particular session with his signature shizzles and dizzles, but he ends with a surprisingly powerful story about a guy preparing to seduce his girl, who he hasn't seen since he got locked up, only to find she's since shacked up with a homie. Snoop stays calm and collected through every word. Westwood is forever grateful for this one, especially after seeing "cats reading off the BlackBerry all day." Not the Doggfather.
No one goes harder on Westwood than Slim Shady, and that's a fact. The two go way back, and Eminem goes absolutely bonkers in this rare session featuring former D12 member Kon Artist (who now goes by Mr. Porter), and Alchemist on the beats. Watch Westwood bug out as Em gets increasingly diabolical throughout the sesh, never hesitating on a single syllable. He finishes up by working in the totally infectious hook to "Swag Juice," which apparently he and Kon Artist came up with on the ride over to the station. By the end of the clip, even Em himself appears to be a little shaken up by what just went down. Only on Westwood.
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Rounding up the best freestyle sessions hosted by British radio legend Tim Westwood
Tim Westwood may not look like your average hip-hop personality, but the 57-year-old gangly white dude, always rocking a different color polo, is an industry legend, and he's been there from the beginning. In the late 80s, Westwood was one of the first DJs in Europe to play hip-hop on mainstream radio. As host of the revolutionary BBC Radio 1 Rap Show, started in '94, he became arguably the #1 importer of American hip-hop to the UK and beyond. Whereas some radio old-heads lament the current state of hip-hop, Westwood, ever-enthusiastic and optimistic, is always looking to support emerging artists. His YouTube channel, Tim Westwood TV, is now home to a weekly web series and hosts years' worth of archived footage from Westwood's storied career, including: hilarious interviews, wild party footage, and, last but not least, some of the web's hottest freestyle sessions.
Westwood has certainly helped keep the art of freestyling alive. Rappers show him nothing but love and always seem to up the ante when they step inside his studio. Here are 10 must-watch sessions for a lazy Sunday.