The Best Funk Flex Freestyles

Hot 97 DJ Funkmaster Flex often hosts some of hip-hop's best lyricists to spit rapid fire rhymes for the culture. From Meek Mill and Joe Budden to Vince Staples and Vic Mensa to Papoose and Black Thought, here are the best Funk Flex freestyles.

Funk Flex

Image via Getty/Johnny Nunez

Funk Flex

Back in May of 2016, Flex cracked the mic by saying #MusicStillMatters, and did so by restarting his famous freestyle series. Many of hip-hop's finest have had moments spitting for Flex, from the entire Roc-A-Fella family to certified rhymers like Pusha T. Seemingly tired of "wack spitters" disrespecting the craft of being an MC, Flex's new freestyle series hasn't been about who has the biggest name, but who can bring the illest lyrics. With roughly 100 freestyles in this new series hitting the internet, the Complex Music Consortium dove into the latest edition of the series to bring you the cream of the crop. Run through our picks and rediscover what prime-time spitting is all about. —khal

25. Conway, Benny, Westside Gunn

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Best Bar: "A wig shot and my neck bled/I still became the best rapper alive on my deathbed"

24. Cyhi the Prynce

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Best Bar: "Flow like Poseidon, they so excited when Zeus come/Rappers bite it like Trident, I never chew gum"

23. Joe Budden

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Best Bar: "Here's a glimpse of my stake and then if you may/Ni**as couldn't commence their successes without my mistakes"

22. Lloyd Banks

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Best Bar: "Left a life-or-death experience, how could you humble that/Mob of preemies can't be serious, shit on your mumble rap"

21. Nick Grant

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Best Bar: “’Bout my broccoli and kale/Yeah, that Bobby De Niro/Talkin’ so much money I could make Oprah pop it for Gayle”

20. Papoose

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Best Bar: "You slap me? Then I slap you, I can’t get with that/You slap me? I gotta clap you, ain’t no tit for tat"

19. Arsonal

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Best Bar: "I'm ventilatin' to conquer the ones defending Satan/See how long it take them to process all of this information"

18. Tsu Surf

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Best Bar: "A little more baking soda, tryna make it thinner/Or I can turn this shit to rock like Lynyrd Skynyrd"

17. Young MA

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Best Bar: "Hip-hop was just sleeping wasn't really dead/And since life is a bitch I made it give me head"

16. Axel Leon

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Best Bar: "They hear my voice and tell me I do something, and it's goosebumpin'/I sip a bottle of Goose in a bubblegoose, bumpin' B.I., fingerpoppin' my model friend and her loose cousin"

15. Fred the Godson

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Best Bar: "Work clips well/Two guns named Kelly and Bey, so it won't be a missed shell"

14. Murda Mook

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Best Bar: "I get the head then I make her scurry to the side/Like a Asian store clerk, bitch, hurry up and buy!"

13. J.I.D.

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Best Bar: "Looking for love at the end of this Hen bottle/Looking for pub', let me pen your next album"

12. Action Bronson

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Best Bar: "The side of my crib looking like Wrigley Field, covered in ivy/I could have been one of the Isleys"

11. Joey Badass

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Best Bar: "If your life was a movie, wouldn't even watch the preview/I guarantee it won't be no sequel/When we see you, we'll probably leave you see-through"

10. The Hoodies

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Usually, you can gauge how sick a freestyle is by the look(s) on Flex's face. During this performance from brothers E-Class and Young Poppa, aka the duo known as The Hoodies, Flex was mostly silent, seemingly in awe of what these two were doing. They eat entire instrumentals, going back and forth with precision and timing, all while bringing an older vibe to today's proceedings, which is dope AF for spitters their age. —khal

Best Bar: "I could've sold dimes, rolled around with a nine piece/but my watch cost 9, on my left is a dime piece"

9. Don Q/A Boogie

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The first comment on YouTube for this reads: "Was here for A Boogie but left with Don Q." And that's exactly right. A Boogie has okay rhymes and runs out of steam after less than two minutes, but Don Q bodies it. He's tough, funny, powerful, and completely in control. In addition, every once in a while he'll throw in a line that will completely change the mood and make things somber (such as his note that at his young age, he's "been to more funerals than graduations"), before ramping back up into the energetic rhymes. This one is a favorite of the Funk Flex fanbase, and for good reason. —Shawn Setaro

Best Bar: "It was tough times, now we fuck dimes/I fuck ni**as' bitches—how can I trust mine?"

8. Vic Mensa

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Vic's Save Money crew contains some of the best off the dome rappers I've ever seen in person—shout out to Joey Purp—and Mensa does his crew proud with his appearance here (including what appears to be some honest-to-goodness improvising towards the very end). Vic manages to work in history, politics, Chicago gangs, his own career, and the ways in which all of those topics intersect. Plus, any rapper who manages to mention Chicago blues legend Willie Dixon, Beat Street, and Mumia while quoting Public Enemy—as Vic does here—is automatically going to be one of my favorites for life. —Shawn Setaro

Best Bar: "I know Flex don't really rock with Pac/I'm still screaming 'Makaveli' 'til the coffin drop"

7. Vince Staples

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Vince Staples went all the way off over Raekwon's primo "Ice Cream" beat during his Hot 97 visit in 2016. He had his sights set on his blackness: the concerns, tribulations, and issues facing him and others who look like him. He's not just firing shots at white supremacy; Staples uses his freestyle to also call out the people of color in his community who haven't stepped up to make a positive impact. He's the definition of real throughout, even delving into his personal issues—"used to have depression, used to have a couple mood swings." But by far, his laser-focused effort reflects the overall change he's constantly vocal about wanting to see in the world. —Kiana Fitzgerald

Best Bar: "I'm just a ni**a with a black vendetta and a black-owned business/In a black Raf sweater, backin’ back white privilege"

6. Kyah Baby

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Getting the chance to drop bars in the Ciroc Studios at Hot 97 is considered an honor, and Kyah Baby showed exactly why she was deserving of the opportunity. She wore a stone cold expression on her face throughout her freestyle, but a sly smile peeked through every once in a while as she couldn't help but be amused by her own rhymes. She takes aim at pretty much everybody, from new rappers to previous freestylers, and represents Queens over the iconic "Flava in Ya Ear" beat. By the midway point, Funk Flex is fully behind Kyah, expressing pure joy as she lays waste to her competition, female, male or otherwise. —Kiana Fitzgerald

Best Bar: "New rappers is wearing dresses and tight jeans/Finger paintin' they nails/They be lookin' just like me" 

5. Meek Mill

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While Meek Mill has made multiple freestyle appearances for Funk Flex, this one in particular highlights his razor sharp rhymes about the street life, the struggle, and a few subtle shots ("ni**as in their feelings, that's when it get drizzy") over production for classics from Mobb Deep and Jay Z. At one point he even spits a cappella, a nod to his battle rap past. —Edwin Ortiz

Best Bar: "Kill 'em with success, they gon' kill me with emojis/Kill me with a meme, you pussies never could expose me"

4. Charlie Clips

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Clips' pedigree is known before he even touches the mic; dude's nice. And while he's not spitting in a conventional cadence, he's packing bars upon bars upon bars throughout this entire segment. When you sit back and think about how long he kept referencing keys on your computer keyboard, you realize you're fucking with a vet, no cap. —khal

Best Bar: "Flex, these rappers just sloppy/Kinkos should sign them, these niggas just copy"

3. Royce da 5'9"

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On the verge of the release of PRhyme 2, Royce stepped in the booth and showed why he's one of the greats. He lets out long strings of knotty rhymes with impeccable timing, never missing a syllable even when he gets so worked up towards the end that his voice is on the verge of giving out. The verses (some of which would show up in slightly different form on the PRhyme project) are equally filled with threats of violence and memorable pop culture references—and sometimes, as in his instant classic Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam pun, both at the same time. —Shawn Setaro

Best Bar: "Either going straight for the kill, gunslingin'/Or I'm goin' straight-up Jada and Will, I come swingin'"

2. Loaded Lux

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Loaded Lux gained notice as a battle rapper for his complicated, double-meaning-filled rhymes and his sense of theatricality. He brought both of those in spades to this performance. It's one of the few Flex freestyles that is maybe even more fun to watch than to listen to, because of Lux's seemingly endless array of changing expressions. As for the rhymes, the layers of meaning and scope of topics are extraordinary. Lux somehow manages a sophisticated pun about Orajel, a Yung Joc parody, and an extended Saved by the Bell metaphor that includes the best (and perhaps only) Lisa Turtle pun in hip-hop. —Shawn Setaro

Best Bar: "The great debater/You're slow, at least a turtle know why Morris never lifted weights with Slater" 

1. Black Thought

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If you're a fan of The Roots, you already know how certified Black Thought's pen game is. Still, when he hopped on Flex's freestyle segment, it took him spitting for the majority of this 10 minute, 55 second video for the uninitiated to get it. He delivered a stream of conscious BARS that felt like hip-hop's nicest uncle slapping the shit out of you for disrespecting your elders. The best part? He's referencing Stevie Wonder, Henry Kissinger, 2Pac, Julius Caesar, Deepak Chopra, and more. This is Higher Level Rap. Advanced Bar Physics. Black Thought proving that he's the illest that ever did it. EARLY! —khal

Best Bar: "How it feel to be the best that did it, I admit it/I'm visitin' from planet Bring-These-Niggas-Death-In-Minutes"

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