Redman is, bar for bar, one of the greatest rappers ever. There’s no unnecessary hyperbole here, no exaggeration, no need for nostalgia. Even today he’s still amongst rap’s elite, but he isn’t always mentioned with the greats, despite being widely known as one of the dirtiest MCs in hip-hop history. The influence of his multi-syllabic rhyme schemes and loony, smoked-out fantasies still pervades rap today, and we should recognize Reggie Noble’s significance whenever possible.
Today is the Funk Doc’s 45th birthday, but his best freestyles sound like they haven’t aged a day, so we went back to dig up the best of the best. These are artifacts from a time when pure rapping was all you needed to get on. We still appreciate you, Red.
“Brown Sugar” Freestyle
Meth grabs bits of his verses from different places, but Red’s bars aren’t to be found anywhere else (though he does crib some lines from the Flex freestyle below). Hearing Red and Meth over D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar” is enough to get placed on this list, though.
Best Line: “I oughta be acquitted / and next year’s Source Magazine’s award for best lyricist when I spit it”
Keith Murray & Redman Freestyle
The honorary Wu member hops over “Protect Ya Neck” to talk about copping bud from Mexican actors. This is from the heavily slept-on Funk Flex freestyle mixtape series.
Best Line: “Smoke the charm, I got alms like Vietnam / I bought a bag of herb from Ricardo Montalban”
Redman 1995 Interview
Without any provocation, Red launches into a dope freestyle at the start of this interview. It seems like he’s always ready to spit, at any point, in any place.
Best Line: “The fatter the beats, the fatter the freaks / I have to keep the ratchet fatter and the weed in the Jeeps”
Biz Markie & Redman Freestyle
There’s hardly any information available on this rare gem with Biz and Redman rhyming together. It’s certainly early on in Red’s career, but even though the Youtube uploader says it’s from 1990 and from before he signed to Def Jam, we can’t know for sure. What we do know, however, is how nice that TV show rhyme scheme is.
Best Line: “If this was amateur night, I’d bang Vanna White / Because she stole my Wheel of Fortune when the Price wasn’t Right”
Keith Murray & Redman Freestyle (Doo-Wop)
The Def Squad members were always illing when they traded bars, and Keith and Red have some special chemistry on this Doo Wop cut. If you’re having a bad day, just listen to what the Funk Doc does to this beat, and if you can’t smile after that, go see a real doctor.
Best Line: “Let me light these blunts, the tracks my artifacts / Stack as tall as Shaq, back when Space Invader hats / was here…”
Redman on Russell Simmons’ Phat Jam
When Red comes out, he starts to do a freestyle, but he doesn’t finish it, and at about the 7:50 mark, he starts it over because he’s pissed off he messed up the first time. He’s so dedicated to every rhyme, he’ll interrupt his own setlist just to get a freestyle right. He’s fucking righteous.
Best Line: “I smoke mad Philly blunts and eat pussy for lunch / I’ll tickle ya clitoris until I’m makin’ ya jump”
Method Man & Redman Freestyle
So many of these videos are just Reggie coming up with raps on the spot. This clip is bookended by Red spitting rhymes over Kool G Rap’s “Ill Street Blues” off the top, and it’s just one example of why he’s one of the purest MCs of all time.
Best Line: “Word is bond, I’m comin’ through, I got the gall / I be hittin’ more holes than balls in pool halls”
Red & Meth Wake Up Show Freestyle 1994
26 minutes of Meth and Red spitting monkey bars while they promote their individual solo albums. If that’s not intriguing to you, go listen to Taylor Swift.
Best Line: “I get up in you like Keith Murray, until you shittin’ beet curry / All competition leave in a hurry”
This is what makes Red great. His delivery is just a maze to listen to, braking, accelerating, and swerving without the help of a beat. He’s also one of the few MCs who can spit spontaneous bars that sound better than other rappers’ writtens. He has this churning energy, via bombazee or otherwise, in the above footage, like he wants to stop rapping but he just can’t. Watching it, you can see why he was so close with the bugged out Wu-Tang Clan.
Best Line: “My ballistics have me on blocks flippin’ biscuits, gettin’ spliff-did, sippin’ on Mistics”
Red & Meth Freestyle In A Hotel
Again, Red is just the perpetual spitter. It’s like he can’t stop himself. He’s got rhymes spilling out from behind his teeth.
Best Line: “We the reason y’all Benz is on back order / I mastered the hookup, I could phone tap water”
Redman Freestyle 2009
Even more than 15 years after his debut album, Red is still as sharp as anyone over Beanie Sigel’s “Beanie.”
Best Line: “Feel that drummin’ my heart gotta deal with / You feel Drummond like Arnold and Willis”
“I Don’t Give A Fuck” Freestyle
Reggie was the first MC Eminem named on “Til I Collapse,” so Marshall was probably honored to have the Funk Doc go over this Slim Shady classic.
Best Line: “My name is Reggie Noble, I’m a sexaholic / I fucked my babysitter on my mama toilet”
Stretch Armstrong Freestyle 1995
Redman over “Player’s Anthem” is the apotheosis of beauty in rap music.
Best Line: “Knock your boots down to your drawers / I get down, caused your grandma to have menopause”
Redman On Stretch & Bobbito 1995
Redman over “How Many Mics” by the Fugees is equally sublime.
Best Line: “Blast by all means necessary, I’m scary / dynamite like JJ Evans, rob ya fuckin’ crib with the Mac eleven / take the cocaine, lace it, with the lactose, base it”
French Freestyle 2014
Reggie only spits one short verse, but those opening lines and the way he extends the rhyme scheme shows you how he’s still head and shoulders above the competition.
Best Line: “I roll the blunt with crushed ‘deez and cocaine / With acid, PCP and propane”
Bonus: Rap City Freestyle 2001
This is kind of a throwaway, as Red gives his weedcarriers Icarus and D-Don (a.k.a. Diezzle Don) some shine before spitting his verse from Erick Sermon’s “React” in the booth. But it’s included here because at the very beginning of the video, he spits what sounds like an off the dome rhyme that’s so ill, it’s hard to believe.
Best Line: “Check the Dr. Bombay makin’ house calls / Buck tryna outball, I’m a outlaw, brother come up out yours”