Growing up, Patrick Cleland was a lanky kid from Grand Rapids who loved nothing more than playing basketball. On bus rides to and from games and around the house, he toyed with on-the-spot rhymes for the hell of it. To him, it was fun and it made his friends laugh.
On Saturday, Sept. 21, Cleland (better known today as hip-hop artist Rick Chyme) will take what was once an offhand habit to the streets of ArtPrize in a big way, by tackling the world record for the longest freestyle with a target time of 17 hours.
"I wanted to do something that collaborated with the masses of people that will be in town," Chyme said. "Something that could involve other musicians, but really, anybody else who might be on the street."
Starting at 8 a.m., Chyme will make his way from John Hartman Photography on Division Avenue and loop through Grand Rapids, laying it down about whatever he might run into on the street that day. He's allowed three-second breaks in between, but won't have time to eat or rest until he wraps up at The Pyramid Scheme around 1 a.m.
Anything's fair game for subject matter said Chyme, who will be taking requests from spectators and via Twitter hashtags "#17hourfreestyle," "#5iveit," "#rickchyme" and "#artprize." Despite hip-hop's steady relationship with improvisation, Chyme said Saturday is all about taking it in stride.
"It's kind of like going to the park to play streetball," Chyme said. "You don't really know what's going to happen and you're playing with guys you don't know."
Chyme said his style of object freestyle stems from growing up listening to "The Wake Up Show," hosted by MTV's Sway and frequented by notorious freestyler Supernatural.
"[Supernatural] was the first one I heard do this object freestyle," Chyme said. "I didn't know it then, but by messing around when I'm 15 years old, I was preparing for Saturday."
Chyme said the idea for the record-breaker started when he reached out to Supernatural over Twitter about setting up an event like Saturday's. Despite his confidence, the same man who inspired Chyme had his doubts.
"He said something like, 'You couldn't even talk for that long,'" Chyme said. "And what's been engrained in me through sports is that, anytime someone tells you something like that and you've been through as many years of competition as I have, you're gonna go for it."
The event is also Chyme's way of bringing his craft to the people of ArtPrize. As an art form, Chyme said hip-hop is burdened by unfair stigma.
"It's a guarantee that someone's going to connect hip-hop and violence," Chyme said. "And it's there in a lot of the mainstream stuff you hear, but it's so much more than that. So maybe this is a chance to let people have their own perception."
Rain or shine, Chyme doesn't seem concerned about not reaching his mark. In conversation just more than a week prior to the event, he exudes a calm, calculated enthusiasm and spends his time preparing by reading, practicing and getting his mind to a place unconcerned with seconds or minutes.
"I've had enough experiences where there's been a bunch of hours that you have to put in, but eventually you just had to trust in the training that you've been doing," Chyme said. "I'm going to go for 17 hours. There's no such thing as failing, just how you react to what's happening. You don't ever lose, only when you stop creating."
For Chyme's schedule, visit rickchyme.com.