Pablo Alvarez could feel his throat swelling. His tonsils were becoming raw and enlarged, and his sinuses started to clog. “I didn't understand that part. My body was shutting down on me — I could tell.”
But he still had many hours left to go.
Alvarez, of the Miami bred, L.A.-based band Good Bison, was attempting to break the world record for longest solo freestyle rap. “Originally, it started as a joke," he says. "It came about from me joking that I could freestyle all day.”
The joke turned into a reality, and the result was a 25-hour, nonstop freestyle that was live streamed to Facebook Live and YouTube. “I started around 8 p.m. on Friday, and we finished around 9 p.m. on Saturday.”
Throughout the 25 hours, Alvarez interacted with Good Bison’s Facebook fans, who fed him fodder for the freestyle in the comment section. “I was incorporating their words into my rhymes," Alvarez elaborates. "They would throw something at me that they thought I couldn't rhyme. I was probably given the word ‘orange’ twenty times throughout the day.”
Though the Guinness World Records (formerly known as the Guinness Book of World Records) website lists only a team freestyle record (twelve hours and two minutes), a 2014 Complex Magazine article lists Austin Antoine as the solo record holder at 16 hours, 31 minutes, and 21 seconds.
Alvarez is awaiting an official response from Guinness World Records (it can take up to 12 weeks for them to review an attempted world record), but he's confident that he's blown the previous record out of the water.
“Once they respond, I have to just submit proof. I have the entire 25 hours on film, and there were witnesses present the entire time who were keeping track," Alvarez says. "The interesting thing is the Guinness Book of World Records gives you a five-minute break for every continuous hour of activity. I didn't take any breaks. I kept going 25 hours straight. I didn't stop.”
During the day-long freestyle, Alvarez sipped water, drank a strawberry-banana smoothie that his friend brought over, and had one 5-hour Energy drink at around hour 20. He used the bathroom only once in 25 hours.
The Guinness staff may be most impressed not only with the sheer length of time that Alvarez freestyled but with the way he brought his world record attempt into the technological era by interacting with commenters in real time.
At the height of the live stream’s popularity, Alvarez had around 3,000 viewers, and there were never fewer than 50. “It was almost like I developed relationships with a lot of these people, because they would come back and I'd be like, ‘Oh, you told me that you were leaving to work and now you're back,' or, 'You went to bed and now you're awake — welcome back! Thanks for tuning in again.'”
Alvarez and his bandmates dreamed up the stunt as a way to promote Good Bison’s new EP, Buffalo Roots. "It’s called Buffalo Roots because it really is like an origin story," says Alvarez. "It's our beginning." The closing track on the record, “Away We Go,” tells the story of their spontaneous move to the West Coast.
"We didn't think it through," Alvarez admits. "We just packed a bunch of things in the back of our car and drove from Miami all the way to L.A. We didn't have jobs lined up. We didn't have places to stay lined up. We were just like, 'Let's go and we'll figure it out.'"
Two years later, it all seems to be working out for them. They recorded Buffalo Roots with producer JHawk, whose work with the likes of Chris Brown, E-40, and Iggy Azalea makes him one of Hollywood's hottest up-and-coming hitmakers. Alvarez notes, “It was so serendipitous. He lives on our street. He's practically our neighbor.”
Since the move, things have been going smoothly for the band. Whether they're freestyling, uprooting and moving to L.A., or coming up on a chance meeting with an on-demand producer, the freewheeling Good Bison are just making it up as they go along.