Central Florida group's talents go viral with freestyle rap videos

Free Daps uses improvisation to come up with clever songs

By Carolina Cardona - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - A group of young Central Florida men has become known for their quick thinking and musical talents through their freestyle rap sessions that have gotten a lot of attention online.

They go by the name Free Daps and have become pretty well-known not only in the Orlando area, but around the country, too. 

The guys mainly use comedy as part of their shows and their songs are pretty much all done through improvisation.

"I'm Sam. I'm Johnny Hugo. I'm Isaac Knox. I'm Jordan Keyes. I'm Heath McNease. We are Free Daps," the freestyle group says to introduce its members. 

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After the warm welcome, the group likes to get others involved in the making of their music.

"You, the audience, are part of our show. It's hip-hop. It's comedy. It's improv. It's all of our favorite things all blended into one," Sam Hammersley, one of the group members. said,

Hammersley, who prior to joining Free Daps, was teaching Spanish, said they're a blended group. They're all from different backgrounds but with an undeniable chemistry. 

So, how do they come up with the lyrics?

"We don't. We just do it in the moment. A lot of people will ask us, 'How do you learn to freestyle?' It's just a -- it's just a muscle that we've worked on for a long, long time," Mcnease said.

Keyes, the co-founder of the group, said you have to train yourself to think on your feet.

"What we do has taken us years and years and years to develop -- a decade, at least, for each of us. Working, learning how to freestyle and then learning how to rhyme on the spot," Keyes said.

They've made a name for themselves through videos on YouTube and Facebook. A video of one of their songs, which was about talk show host John Oliver, recently went viral.

"We're hoping he's seen it. So, John, John, if you're watching News 6 today, please let us know that you've seen it," Keyes said while looking into News 6's camera.

Regardless of the attention they've received online, the guys said they don't consider themselves local celebrities.

"Except for when I go into Publix and they know what I want at the deli," Hugo joked.

The group is still trying to help people appreciate the art of freestyling.

"We're still working on getting people to understand what freestyle is. which is making up music off the top of our head -- extemporaneous, spontaneously, like, off the cuff," Hammersley said.

They use their unique senses of humor to joke about current events and do skits about some of their favorite sports, like football and basketball. 

"Because of the freestyle skill of building that muscle, of being able to improvise, when we do write a sketch for music videos, the writing is usually the shortest part," Keyes said.

Hammersley said although it's fun, it's a creative challenge, and he hopes their skills will open new doors for them.

"It's a lot of, like, dad jokes and puns, but truly it's a lot of word play -- like, hip-hop and poetry and rhyming and those sorts of things," Hammersley said. "Eventually, we would love to be able to do a TV show or something that's never been done before."

Their talents have already allowed them to perform regularly at Disney Springs and in cities around the country. It's been a fun journey that initially started as a side gig.

"There was no reason to expect that this was gonna become an actual job. We feel like we can be one of just a small handful of trailblazers in this art form," Knox, who actually teaches freestyle workshops at SAK Comedy Club in downtown Orlando, said.

Free Daps is excited for their next performance Sunday at the Orlando Magic's playoff game. 

To see more of their talents, follow them on Instagram or Facebook.

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