While the ongoing pandemic has wreaked havoc on the music industry, one of the saddest casualties might very well be the retirement of the radio freestyle. Lest we forget, radio freestyles were one of the most surefire ways to receive a healthy serving of BARS, as you already know emcees stepping up to the plate weren’t about to phone it in. For Funkmaster Flex, who happens to be enjoying his fifty-second birthday today, those very BARS were one of his primary sources of sustenance. Though it’s unclear as to how he’s getting on without them, Royce Da 5’9″ took a moment to reflect on one of his station’s glorious moments. 

Taking a moment to reply to a question posed by XXL — “Who had the best freestyle of all time on his show?” — Royce slid through with a clear and decisive answer. “That’s pretty easy,” he declares. “Riq.” He is, of course, referring to Tariq Trotter, known to most of his fans as Black Thought. You may recall that fateful day in December 2017, when Black Thought stepped into the booth to unleash ten minutes of awe-inspiring bars, leaving Funkmaster Flex contorting his face into expressions not even the most creative painter could have imagined. 

To this day, the epic freestyle has amassed over eleven-million views, quietly understood to be the gold standard of radio-delivered bars. And while Thought’s lyrical onslaught will be studied by scholars for generations, we mustn’t forget that Royce himself delivered a pretty impressive one shortly thereafter, matching Thought’s pace with a ten-minute offering of his own. Happy birthday to Funkmaster Flex, and may we one day see our table set with a fresh serving of BARS — lord knows we need it.