How To Start Rapping
listen to rappers you love and hate
When finding out how to start rapping, it’s a cool idea to identify whose style you like, and rappers styles you don’t like. Not just to copy the rappers style, but to find out what about that style you enjoy. Is it storytelling? Is it multi-syllable rhymes? Is it political? Is it fast rap? Is it gangster?
Write down a list of your favourite rap artists and identify some different things that make you learn towards listening to them specifically. This can be the backbone of what skills you develop first in your journey to start rapping.
2. Memorize some verses
Now memorize some of your favourite rap verses. OR just portions of your fave verses. Get it down so good that you can say it in your sleep. This will instantly put a mental metronome in your head.
One of the newest and coolest ways to memorize these pieces of raps, is to use the Youtube playback functionality.
You can set the speed of the playback to .5 which is half speed. This will slow down the lyrics so you can learn them easier. Pick a video where the lyrics are displayed on the video screen and repeat and speed it up until you have it down.
3. Build Your Rhymebook & Rap Vocabulary
Honestly, Rhymebooks used to be notepads that people carried around and wrote down interesting lines/rhymes in. Nowadays, rappers have phones they can use to jot down rhymes and create their own rhyme books that way.
Though one suggestion for when you first get started rapping is to use something like Google Docs, or Evernote so that way if you lose your phone, you have a backup of all of your rhymes and bars.
Writing down your rhymes, reinforces remembering them. Especially when you’re freestyling, your memory recall works better after you have written it down. So you can pull rhymes seemingly out of thin air, but really it was all the preparation you did writing down cool rhymes and patterns of schemes.
4. Learn To Freestyle
There are so many ways to learn how to freestyle rap. BUT I have found that Pat Parra’s 2 step system is as good as it is going to get for beginner’s when learning how to freestyle rap. Though I have tweaked the process a bit to get more advanced.
Essentially his method is a two step method.
Don't worry about rhyming at first. It might seem backwards but it will help you get out of the “stuck” freeze up zone so many beginners experience and then give up.
So pick a beat you like. Rap for one minute without stopping and without rhyming. Force yourself to go for a full minute. Who cares if it sucks.
If you can't think of anything to say. Rap about not knowing what to say. Just say it. Mention things around you if you get stuck.
Go to rhymezone.com and type in a simple one syllable word like “dope”. Then in the drop down pick “near rhymes”.
Then throw on your beat and use all those rhymes for at least a minute. Try to weave them into your lines when your rapping. It will help you build your rhyme muscles.
If you need more help you can check out one of my full training articles for how to freestyle here. (LinK)
5. WHO ARE YOU?
Hip hop is a form of expression. Expressing who you are and how you feel. Your raps should represent that.
Many times we get stuck in the type of raps we hear on the radio or mainstream style trap rap. And if that's you, then great. Go get it. But if you feel weird it will come out inauthentic.
So take a quick moment right now and write out what you stand for, and what you feel deeply about. I will write mine below. This will help you start to develop your brand image. And figure out who your target market is.
Anxiety and depression
I hate the 9-5 grind
An extra tip is to actually use some of these subheadings for track ideas for an EP or an album. Keep a separate Google Doc with those written down in sections. Whenever you think of an idea that relates to one of these topics, then jot it down. If you think of a cool rhyme scheme or a cool multi rhyme, then throw it in there and use that as your brain dump for each track you want to write. Then you can go and find some beats that match the general idea, and bam you have a ton of track ideas that relate your brand as a rapper, and stay authentic to who you are.
6. Fall in love with the process, not the result.
This is probably one of my favourite quotes of all time. The reason being, doing the work and writing and recording raps will never change. You have to do it to improve or gain feedback or gain recognition.
The results or the goals will ALWAYS change. Even if you complete your goal. If you just love the process of writing and recording and finishing and putting your true expression out to the world then you will gain so much more than the result you initially wanted.
This is true for everything you do. And I love the process of writing rhymes and flows and sick patterns. Just a little motivation and reminder for those just getting started and don't have a following yet.
7. Mumble out gibberish - Replace with words
This is hands down the most used technique for writing raps.
Use your voice as an instrument
This is actually how mumble rap started. Rappers mumbling a bunch of sounds over the verse. The problem is that they forgot to replace those sounds with meaningful words that deliver a message of your expression.
You mumble out patterns to the beat. The way those patterns are assembled are stressed and unstressed syllables and pauses.
You can even write the gibberish down if you want. For example:
BAH da da BAH BAH da da BAH BAH
RAPpin em DOPE BARS in a SICK WAY
WRAP em with BOTH ARMS on a SHIT DAY
See what I'm sayinnnnn?
8. Write how you talk / rap
Ingrained in our brains since school, is the essay style of writing for your teacher.
A lot of times we can freestyle sick flows bit when we go to write, it doesn't sound the same. The problem is that we write differently then we actually speak because of what we learned.
So make a proactive attempt at writing the same way that you speak. Conversationally, use slang, cut out words here and there.
One of the best tips I can give if you're having this issue is to USE LESS WORDS. Cut out alllll the little shit in between if it doesn't fit. There are so many ways to get across the same point. You have a finite amount of space to fit your point.
9. Memorize your lyrics
This is one of the more annoying ones. Because right when you finish writing a rap you want to record it and put it out to the world. My suggestion is to memorize the shit out of it first.
This is sooooo important. Because if you find that your voice is soft, or not confident, or your rap voice is shitty and annoying when your play it back. The reason is you're not confident. There's no cadence.
When you memorize your lyrics, spit them in 100 different voices, high pitched, low pitched, change out certain tones. It add so much cadence and contrast to your raps. And you'll 1000x more confident.
10. Timing is everything
Practice your timing on a metronome. Try to hit every single beat with a stressed syllable. The reason is that most people think they have good timing, but their timing is actually shit.
Drummers often recommend this, and your rap voice is very similar to drumming. It's the same time sequence and the same types of sounds.
So go to Google and rap to a metronome. It's super boring but it will help you become one of the sickest flows of all time if you are spot on in your timing.
11. Work Backwards
Yesss. My favourite tip for writing raps. Start with the punchline first. Start with the last line of your bars.
Rap concepts are generally conveyed in sections of 4 bar ideas. You can obviously adjust this to 2 bars or 8 bars. But for this sake, think 4.
So write your 4th line (your last line) in the 4 bar sequence FIRST. So the main idea. It doesn't have to be a punchline, but it can be the ultimate message you want to get across.
So for example. If I wanted to say:
I'm like Danny with the Grammy call me a golden Glover
I would do this:
I'm like Danny with the Grammy they call me a golden Glover
Then I would lead my way up this last bar. Because it's the one everyone is going to remember the most. Everything else is a build up to get to this point.
Lethal weapon I act like my older brother
Fielding all these questions i know that I got it covered
I catch what your throwin down and I won't let it hit the ground
I'm like Danny with the Grammy they call me a golden Glover
It's just easier to work from the end sometimes.