A freestyle cypher is one of the cornerstones of hip-hop. This is when a group of people start spitting rhymes off the top of their heads about the scenery around them, the people next to them or current events. The great thing about cyphers is that they can happen anywhere and at any time, and a microphone and music are not needed. A lot of MCs make a name for themselves in freestyle cyphers before they even do a single show or record a song.
D.O. (real name Duane Gibson, also known as Defy the Odds), a Canadian MC who will be in Taiwan this weekend for shows at the Taipei Artist Village (台北國際藝術村) tonight and Brickyard tomorrow, used to freestyle in cyphers for hours without stopping. One day, one of his friends said that he thought D.O. could set the world record for freestyling, which sparked an idea.
“We reached out to the Guinness [World Records] and it turned out they didn’t have a record for freestyling, so they ended up creating one and giving us the rules in case I wanted to do it,” D.O. said in an e-mail interview with the Taipei Times.
“At first, I was going to do it just because I thought it would be fun, but then I realized we could make it into a big event. I ended up doing it at a car show and I was rapping in front of thousands of people throughout the day.”
On July 4, 2003, D.O. rapped for eight hours and 45 minutes (with a 15-minute break every four hours) and became the Guinness World Record holder for continuously rapping. “I felt great during the freestyle,” D.O. said. “I even did 50 pushups at the eight hour mark. After the freestyle, I was ready to go out and celebrate but when I made it back to my place, I fell asleep on the couch as soon as I sat down.”
World records are meant to be broken and that happened recently to D.O.’s. “Chiddy Bang successfully broke the record last year,” he said. “I’m glad that it was a dope MC that broke it. The whole thing about the record is that to me it’s not just that I rapped that long, but it’s that I am a skilled MC saying rhymes that make sense. I love having the plaque from Guinness and being able to show my kids.”
D.O. toured Taiwan before as part of the duo, Art of Fresh. “Taiwan has been great. I love the people, the culture and the food,” D.O. said. “I always tell my friends at home how the shows we do are crazy! I’m excited to be bringing my man Famous out here to perform for the first time.”
As one to never rest on his laurels, D.O. keeps pushing forward for the future. “I just released a book called Stay Driven and am currently working a new album called Busy Brothers with my longtime collaborator and friend, Diz Dallas, who has been living in Taiwan the last 10 years. I am excited to be shooting the video for one of the songs from the album while I’m in Taiwan.”
■ D.O. performs with Famous, Dr Reniculous Lipz & The Skallyunz (白悟空), and Dirty Southern Rituals tonight from 10pm to 2am at the Taipei Artist Village (台北國際藝術村), 7 Beiping E Rd, Taipei City (台北市北平東路7號), tel: (02) 3393-7377. Admission is NT$300 and comes with a drink. Tomorrow he performs at Brickyard, B1, 507 Jhongshan 2nd Rd, Cianjin Dist, Greater Kaohsiung (高雄市前金區中山二路507號B1). Admission is NT$300 for men and NT$150 for women (includes a drink) and students with a valid ID get in for NT$100 (includes a drink) before 1am.