How To Rap For Beginners - FREE VIDEO COURSE

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I crafted this guide to teach beginners how to rap. From start to finish. So after you go through this you can go from not knowing much, to being able to write and rap your own dope lines over a beat.  Then you can build a solid foundation and develop your own unique style from there.



Accomplished painters don't learn to paint by just painting with no direction. There are techniques people have learned and practiced along the way that can make you better and improve.

Martial artists don't become champions without first learning some techniques. People have learned from their mistakes already, and then pass that knowledge down and so on and so on.

I don't think rap is any different. There is a foundation. Not that I want to stagnate anyone's creativity. But understanding the basics will allow you to create your own unique sound, and eventually break all the “rules” on purpose.  

Let’s start at the very beginning. But if you already know some things, then just move through the table of contents here:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • What Is A Beat?

  • What Is A Bar?

  • How Many Bars In A Verse?

  • How To Count Beats In A Bar

  • What Is The Structure Of A Rap Song

  • How To Break Down A Beat

  • What Is Flow?

  • Stressed And Unstressed Syllables

  • Poetic Meter In Rap

  • The Basics Of Staying On Beat In Rap

  • Gibberish, Mumble Rap & Scatting

  • How To Rhyme In Rap

  • Multi-Syllable Rhymes 101

  • How To Write Raps That Don’t Feel Dumb/Shallow

  • What To Rap About

  • How To Develop Your Rap Voice

  • Write A Rap Now

  • Improve Your Rap Delivery

  • What Hardware To Record With?

  • What Software To Record With?


What Is A Beat In rap?


A beat in rap can be classified into a couple things. Sometimes people call beats a full instrumental.

But a beat in rap is a measure of time. Like when someone says “never missed a beat”.

A beat in hip hop is a quarter note. And all that means is 1 of 4 beats. So if you count to 4. 1-2-3-4. Each number represents a beat. Each beat represents a drum sound. That's what forms the foundation of hip hop.

Here is a video to help describe it visually.




What Is A Bar?

A bar in rap is also a measure of time. 4 beats makes up a bar. Those 4 beats can go fast or slow depending on the tempo set. Almost all rap songs are setup in this manner for structure. 4 beats make up 1 bar. Then it repeats again.

There are two bars in a line. It's called a couplet. You will never have an odd number of bars. It will always be 2,4,8,16 bars. That's just how it works. I drew an incredibly complex representation here haha.

This explains how drums, beats and bars work in many hip hop tracks.

This explains how drums, beats and bars work in many hip hop tracks.

How To Count Beats In A Bar?


To figure out how to count beats in a bar you need to identify the two main types of drums used on those beats (1-2-3-4).

There are two different types of beats mainly used to identify the structure of the rap song.

  • Kick drum

  • Snare drum


Kick drum is softer and has more of a thud sound. It lands on the 1st and 3rd beats.

Snare drum is harder and sharper sounding and has more of a clap sound. It lands on the 2nd and 4th beats.


That's why you hear the term “Boom Bap” in hip hop. The boom is the kick and the bap is the snare. This is obviously not always true for rap songs. As songmakers will deviate when they are getting creative. Though I would 95% of rap can be broken down like this.


Think of it like building a house. This structure is the foundation of the house. Every house needs a foundation. Then it's up to you to build creative differences on top of that.  

What Is The Structure Of A Rap Song?

Rap songs generally follow a similar structure with a couple differences.

The most common format is:


Intro (4-8 bars long)

First verse (16 bars long)

Hook (8 bars long)

Second verse (16 bars long)

Hook (8 bars long)

Third verse (16 bars long)

Outro (4-8 bars long)


This will vary and there are ways to figure out where you're at.



How To Break Down Your Beat?

The way that you can figure out what section goes where is to count it out and listen for melody changes in the instrumental. That’s a good way to break down a rap beat.

For the most part the intro doesn’t usually have a pronounced beat in it. The verse will kick in and you should be able to count out 1-2-3-4 sixteen times. Then when the hook comes in the melody will generally change again.


What Is Flow In rap?

Flow is how the rhythm of your words fit on top of the beat. Generally words already have a natural rhythm to them. This rhythm comes from stressed syllables and unstressed syllables and how they work in coordination with each other.

Here is a series of videos I made in regards to flow to help get the fundamentals out of the way. One of the most overlooked things in beginners to rap is missing out on how to flow in rap technically.


Stressed And Unstressed Syllables


Syllables are the vowel sounds that are made when you say words. The word “common” has two syllables. The word “factory” has three syllables. Fact-oh-ree. The A the O and Y are all vowel sounds.

Stressed and unstressed syllables are pretty self explanatory and they can vary based on your accent or language spoken. Stressed syllables are the portion of the word that has more emphasis on it.


So in the word “common”. We learned there are two syllables. The stressed part of the word is the first syllable(bold). The unstressed is the second syllable(unbold). “CAH-muhn”

If you change where the stress is in the word it won't sound right to the ear and could even change the meaning of the words. That being said, there are infinite possibilities for the combinations of stressed and unstressed syllables.

You could have two stressed syllables back to back like the word JETPACK. Both of those are stressed. And then you tie this into the way we form sentences. Fir example the words “of” “is” and “the” will be a single unstressed syllable. When you say the sentence:

“Hello friend, how is the day going”


Stressed-unstressed stressed stressed unstressed unstressed stressed stressed-unstressed


That's stupid to type out lol. They created a few different ways to view stressed and unstressed syllables in dictionaries and rhyme dictionaries online.


/ stands for stressed

X Stands for unstressed


So that same sentence would be broken down into:


/x / / x x / /x


The spaces are for where there's a start of a new word in the sentence or phrase.

Dictionaries also show where the stress on the syllable is by putting bold on the syllable. Like this:

screenshot-www.dictionary.com-2018.10.21-16-50-56.png


This may seem boring but is honestly what flow in rap is based on. And is one of the most important fundamental understandings that will make you  better than 70% of rappers immediately.


There is a way to measure how these work together. It's called poetic meter. And is used to establish rhythm in poetry and just speaking in general.

Poetic Meter In Rap

Poetic meter in general can get pretty crazy and has a ton of really big, ridiculous words. But poetic meter is just the different types of these combinations of unstressed and stressed syllables and how they work with each other. Once we get that down, we can work on forming it over instrumentals and hip hop beats.

So understanding poetic meter in RAP is a little easier. Check out this vid or read below to get a grasp on how it can work for you!

Poetic meter is the type of rhythm you set to your lines.



There are 5 different types of rhythms.

Metre with two syllables:



  1. Iambic (x /): unstressed then stressed. For example: The beat is dope and really great.

So notice how it starts with an unstressed syllable and then a stressed syllable and continues. The rhythm type is called iambic. You can get how it creates a consistent rhythm to it.



2. Trochaic (/ x): stressed then unstressed. For example: walking under bridges nightly



3. Spondaic (/ /): stressed then stressed. For example: hold back


Metre with 3 syllables:

4. Anapestic (x x /): unstressed then unstressed the stressed. For example: and the style of my voice in a beat.

5. Dactylic (/ x x): stressed then unstressed then unstressed. OH! It's the triplet flow that has been popularized by Migos recently. And used...a lot. Bah da da Bah da da Bah da da.


Now there is another piece of poetic .enter I didn't cover and that's because you don't need to know it for rap. You are rapping to bars. So all of these little rhythms take place in and around the count of 4 beats and repeated. Obviously getting mixed up and changed creatively to fit the beat.



The Basics Of Staying On Beat In Rap

Okay nice. So now.we need to figure out how to get these words over top of a beat without it sounding like shit. We need it to flow. The way to stay on beat in rap is simple. Design your lines so that the stressed part of the syllables land on the 1 the 2 the 3 and the 4 beat.


Best way to practice of you can stay on beat at different tempos is to use a metronome. Open this one on Youtube at 60 BPM. That's 60 beats per minute. Which is the speed the beats play at, and determines how fast you would count 1-2-3-4.

Sometimes the metronome will have one beat that is louder than the others to indicate the first beat. ONE two three four. ONE two three four.

Count 1-2-3-4 on each of the beats.

Now replace those numbers with stressed syllables. Try this for me for a second.

Replace the 1-2-3-4 with bap-bap-bap-bap. Try that to the metronome beat playing. Do it to different tempos till you have it spot on.

At 60 BPM you will notice you have some space in between BAPS.



Stick an unstressed syllable in between each BAP. Bap - ba - Bap - ba - Bap - ba - Bap - ba

Or you can do 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

Now add another unstressed syllable in between. Bap - bada - Bap - bada - Bap - bada - Bap - bada



Or 1 and a 2 and a 3 and a 4 and a

Gibberish, Mumble Rap, And Scatting Are The Best for finding flow in rap

Listen to the instrumental beat you want to rap over. Now start mumbling rhythms you are feeling. Just blah blah blah budda buda billago cade pillago blag. Haha just start going to the beat with different types of gibberish.



What this does is establish different types of rhythms you are feeling to go over this beat. You will find you establish you’re best rhythms when just saying gibberish right off of the cuff. Just play the beat and start going. Even humming can help.



But as we learned in the previous section, there are 5 types of basic rhythms to combine and connect through the lines. You’ll start to find yourself saying these basic rhythms over and over and over again and realize this is the base of all flow in hip hop.



A technique some people use is to write down their gibberish, although I find this to be super difficult to write good, meaningful content. There is definitely a balance between good content and good flow. Finding the point in between is the best thing you could do for your rap skill




How To Rhyme In Rap

Okay, now we are going to move on to the most exciting part of rap for me. Well, when I first started out it was. But the technical skills of rhyming.

I have a full resource already written out on how to rhyme for beginners, but I have broken that down into video form here in this post.

There is a little bit of text talking about rhyming in rap, and rhyme schemes for rapping better. And then a ton of vids that go over it in more detail.


Perfect Rhymes - Cat and hat are perfect rhymes. Hold and cold are perfect rhymes. Pretty self-explanatory.

Slant Rhymes - Slant rhymes are the inevitable evolution of rhyme. A slant rhyme is an imperfect rhyme that has a similar sound. For example: rap and cat or bet and deck. They aren’t perfect rhymes but the vowel sound is similar and the consonants have the same type of sharp cadence sound to them.



Multi-syllable Rhymes 101

Rap has gotten more complex over the years, and the struggle to develop new and exciting ways to wow an audience have taken shape.

When hip hop first started rhyme generally signified the end of the bar, and were pretty much one syllable rhymes. But in today’s hip hop things have changed. In comes multi-syllable rhyming and more complex ways to form and shape longer rhyme schemes.


Rhymes are starting to come in phrases rather than actual words themselves. Sometimes even rhyming a whole sentence at a time. One key point, is that the end part of the rhyme scheme is the most important still as it ends off the bar. So that last syllable or two needs to be the most close to perfect or slant rhyme.

So, let’s start at the beginning with the most basic and move on from there.


Two Syllable Rhyme fundamentals



For these types of rhymes the second syllable is the more important of the two to rhyme nearly perfect or slant.


For example: Say I wanted to rhyme “HEADBAND”. A two syllable word.

The most important part of the word to rhyme is the “BAND” portion of it. But you can also rhyme the “HEAD” portion of it as well and find two syllable rhymes that make sense.



So let’s start by thinking of slant or perfect rhymes for “BAND”.

Hand, manned, gland, cam, jammed, cram, cramped, pant, plants, grand etc etc there are so many more.



Then start thinking of words that rhyme with “HEAD”. They can be perfect or slant or even just a similar vowel sound.

Web, sweat, bed, red, threat, ten, set, bread, check, ledge, best



Then start combining these to form a two syllable rhyme that makes sense.


HEADBAND

Sweat gland

Web cam

Ten grand

Wet pants

Left hand

etc.

This is the basic form of coming up with multi-syllable rhymes for two syllables. Once you do it enough you will not have to go through this process, they will just start coming to you as you think about rhyming differently.


Other types of two syllable rhymes are words like: “HATER”. These work differently because its a stressed syllable and an unstressed syllable. So you need to match that up as well.

So things like: Gave her, major, raider, gamer, trainer.


Three Syllable Rhymes



Three syllable rhymes start to open things up a little bit. We get some more options for word combinations. You can have three different words rhyme all stressed. Like “Dwayne Wade shoots” “game day Jukes” “eighth grade roots”. Or you can have 2 words and 3 syllables. Or 1 word three syllables with many different types of stressed and unstressed syllables.


Let's go through some examples so get you an idea.

There is one important concept to understand before starting. The start of the phrase is less important than the end of the phrase in terms of perfect rhymes. Keep that in mind, as it will open up many doors.

Stressed syllables need to rhyme.

Unstressed syllables don't need to rhyme.


For example:

HOLDING BACK

There are two stressed syllables and one unstressed.

Hold - ing - back

Wrote - some - Raps

Smok - ing - crack

Coke - and - Jack

Hol - y - crap

Pol - ar - caps

Voc - al - track

Won't - re - act



For teaching beginners how to rap this should be more than enough to get started and practice with in terms of rhyme. But if you want to move onto to 4-5-6-7 syllable rhyme schemes than check out my full breakdown here. I go into a lot more detail about the intricacies of multi-syllable rhymes.



How To Write Raps That Don’t Feel Dumb/Shallow

People love the movies. Why? It's entertaining. Because it's a story. Because it puts the audience in the shoes of the main character. They do this by appealing to your senses. There is so much more than story though. Documentaries can be extremely entertaining as well.

When you write using taste, touch, sight, smell and sound, it brings the listener in. That's showing instead of telling.

Imagery will set the scene and bring the listener somewhere else for a moment.





What To Rap About?

When first starting I highly recommend just writing whatever comes to your head and go with it. Something you feel emotionally connected too. An idea, or a feeling. Remember to write using your senses as well as a narrative point of view.

For those looking for topics to rap about I researched what people want to hear raps about. And created this quick PDF with 192 of the most requested topics to rap about here.



How To Form Your Rap Voice


For many it will sound weird to record and listen to the sound of your rap voice afterwards. Been there. If you want to get over that fear and cringe of listening to your own voice, there's a couple things we can do. To sound dope, and smooth and natural.

For guys, a lot of us want to have a deeper lower voice. But keep in mind, Eminem doesn't have a low voice at all. It's just natural and confident.

Confidence is key. The only way to feel confident is to be happy with the bars and the flow you wrote. And to stay authentic to what you're talking about.

If you want to lower your voice Morgan Freeman says to yawn a lot. This is a good warm-up but won't solve anything long term.

You can actually lower your larynx. If you feel where your Adams apple is. You can yawn and feel it drop down lower in your throat. Now try keeping it there. The more you do this, the easier it will be to keep there.  



Write A Rap Now

There are a few ways to get started if you need a template or technique to get you going.

Rakim was famous for putting 16 dots on the page like bullet points. He would use his internal beat count to figure out where bars started and ended. But he knew every dot, he only had enough space to fit 4 bars worth of syllables/words.

You can just go for it. Right now. Go!

Or if you want a structured approach to writing about topics I created a resource that will guide you through the writing process from start to finish. You can go through step by step with this Free PDF worksheet.

Or you can follow along with this step by step video I made about rap writing techniques.


Improve Your Rap Delivery

The best way to improve your rap delivery is to breathe from the diaphragm. This will allow you to control your breath better. When you write your lines you naturally leave space and pause for places to breathe.

If you use diaphragmatic breathing you get much more oxygen to work with.

Check out the exercises here.

What Hardware To Record RAP With?

Now you just need to record it and mix it and master the song haha. I know it's overwhelming but honestly it will be super easy. Here is some of the equipment you should consider getting if you want to get going.

Get a condenser microphone with an audio interface. For real. You will not regret it.

The beginners checklist of gear:

You need an audio interface because the condenser microphone type won't plug right into a computer. It only has something called an XLR plugin. But the audio interface will plug into the usb on your laptop and then the mic will go into the audio interface. It's not too expensive to get a good setup nowadays with pop filter and stand. Which I recommend. Because you'll find out after you need them anyways.

What Software To Record rap With?

For beginners in rap, the best software to start off with is whatever software is free for recording. That’s Reaper and Audacity for most. You can go here to download the free trial version for 60 days. You don't have to pay anything and you can get what you need to get done before the trial ends.

It's a good platform form to learn on.

Also, Audacity is a completely free user friendly version that is dope as well.

I'm definitely not an expert on mixed and/or recording techniques so I will leave some references here for good courses or free channels to check out.


If you liked this post please leave a comment or sub to the YouTube Channel !

Also if you’d like to inquire about coaching or ghostwriting services you can email me at edison@rhymemakers.com !