How To Rap - The Ultimate Guide
How to Rap
I'd like to start off by saying there are an infinite amount of ways to learn how to rap. There are different styles, different flavors etc.
That's what draws me in to this genre. It's the expression of words and rhythm over a beat. However you want to do it, is up to you.
As in any hobby, there have been successful people before us. Maybe we listened to a new artist, and he blew our minds. You may have an urge to do what they do. Spit like they spit. And those same rappers did the same thing you're doing now.
They learned lyrics from their predecessors. Rappers are almost always fans first. Then, new styles emerge. You start breaking the "rules" you learned from emcees like Rakim.
After studying hundreds of different rappers. I have gathered some of the best tips and resources on the internet for hip hop heads. Please share and comment what you think below. Enjoy.
Need to stay on flow? You place words/phrases/rhymes over top of the beat in a rhythmic manner.
The best way to understand rapping on beat is to see it visually.
In rap, the beat is a sound that repeats over and over again in a consecutive manner. So there is beat that makes a sound, and then there is silence in between.
Just like how words have natural emphasis to syllables and less emphasis on other syllables. The "stressed" parts of the words or phrases are like the beat, and the "unstressed" parts of the words are like the silence.
Rap to me is actually the strongest medicine
Things that people say naturally have rhythm.
The phrase "pizza guy is only a couple blocks away"
Now if we take the idea of putting words on beats and how we can make it sound good.
If you land stressed syllables on the beat consistently, you have a rap flow.
There is a rhythm to this because of the direct contrast between the beat sound and the silence. The amount of time between these creates patterns of rhythm. Sometimes it sounds good, sometimes it sounds BAD.
When it sounds good, there are usually a couple reasons.
Humans love it.
So, rapping over a beat works in the same way. Rhyme is the repetition. The stressed and unstressed syllables in your words and phrases are the consistency. The rap flow.
Freestyle rap is one of the foundations of hip hop. It is considered impressive if you can learn how to freestyle off the top of your head.
Many times, if you are TOO good then people will question whether or not you are freestyle rapping or not.
This is why we do things like use the environment as a part of the rap. To prove its on the spot.
If you want to become good at freestyling, practice.
But I believe that is a cop-out answer.
There are techniques you can use that will make you a better freestyle rapper. Let's look at a number of resources and apps that help us improve.
This Person Does Not Exist - Random A.I pictures you can use to practice freestyle rap battling. Just hit space bar for a new face.
Pat Parra's Udemy Course
Freestyle rap is at the heart of the cultures being.
My ONE TIP for learning freestyle, is learning to spit gibberish on the beat. That's the first step. Mumbling sounds and uttering phrases that sound dope over the beat. Figure out what sounds GOOD over the beat. Then slowly try and turn those caveman noises into sick lyrics.
My Top 5 Tips For Beginners
What? That's right. Mumble. Spit gibberish. Find a beat you want to work with, and mumble out some sounds that feel dope in your ears. Different patterns will emerge. Turn those mumbles into words.
2. Multi-Syllable Rhymes
There is a reason that multi-syllabic rhymes sounds good. It's due to the repetition of sounds. The closer your multi-syllable rhymes, the better. Here is a guide on how to rhyme.
Instead of writing "Yo, I'm the dopest/ You already know bish/". You can write something like,
I can hear my plane leavin but they right to hurry me /
Got so much dopeness in my notebook they swab it at flight security/
Using feelings and emotions are great as well. It's the age old writing adage of show instead of tell.
This might strike as an oddball tip, but it's important. Think about the contrast in a beat. It has sound and then silence. There is a contrast because they are opposites working with each other to create rhythm.
This can be found in a variety of different things. Good and evil, white and black, happy and sad, heaven and hell etc.
So maybe consider doing happy lyrics on a sad beat, or making flat earth believers smart, or doing analog vs digital.
5. SEO For Rappers
Doing a little digging around into keywords. Understand how people use them on Youtube for music. The basic understanding is that people type things into Google when they are looking for it. Same with Youtube.
So they might type "raps about depression". Make a rap about that topic, and put that keyword in your title or song description. You will have a good chance showing up as a top result for that search. Meaning more views.
Best Places To Learn Rap
Rhymemakers.com (Oh wait that's me again)
How To Rap 1 & 2 Books by Paul Edwards
Pat Parra's Freestyle Course
These are all very trustworthy sources of information for all levels of aspiring rappers. I have learned a lot from these guys, and it’s always interesting to catch different perspectives. Definitely check their channels out and give them a follow.
There are not that many resources on speed rap techniques across the internet. My best suggestion is to practice a super fast rap you like until you memorize it.
The best way to do this is to use the YouTube playback feature and set it to half-speed. Make sure you pick a video that shows the lyrics as well. Once you get it at half-speed, you can do 75% speed and eventually full-speed.
This helps you learn how these rappers crafted their fast flows. Learning Rap God by Eminem is probably the most popular of the fast tracks. But there are MANY other good fast rappers you can practice. Check out this awesome video below:
List Of My Favorite Fast Rappers:
R.A The Rugged Man
Big L (Sometimes)
How To Rap For Beginners
I created an in-depth article on this exact topic. But if you really want to learn the basics without any help, re-write your favorite rappers songs. Then memorize the hell outta them.
How To Rap For Girls
Girls get the luxury of being the underdog on a listeners first impression. It's a double-edged sword. One one hand, that's straight up prejudice. On the other hand, you have the shock factor. Like Eminem used to have as a white boy.
One of my favorite girl rappers is Nikki Minaj. I know it's cliche, but the way she manipulates her voice on the flow inspires me. Jean Grae and Lauryn Hill are other great examples of successful girls who rap. Missy Elliot, Foxxy Brown, Lil Kim, Cardi B the list goes on and on. Its no different for girls in this art. Just put in the work and you'll be dope. Ignore the haters.
How To Rhyme Better In Rap
Instead of the same old tips you see everywhere, I want to talk about an often ignored one.
Many people talk about multi syllables for rhymes and matching the vowels. I have done this for years.
But something clicked in my head the other day when I was re-writing a rappers lines.
Multisyllabics usually focus on making the vowel sounds match, while paying little attention to the consonants.
I want you to do both. It sounds SO. MUCH. BETTER.
Think about when you're listening to someone talk with their mouthful. They just grunt the vowels in similar pitches and it's terribly annoying to listen too. Or monotone people who skip over their consonants too quickly.
The reason they are boring to listen too is because there is no CONTRAST between the vowel sounds and the consonants. Rappers (including me) have been ignoring the freaking alphabet for too long!
Like when Eminem rhymes:
"My skill is INTERGALACTICAL/
I get SINICAL ACT A FOOL/
Then I SEND A CREW BACK TO SCHOOL/"
"I'm assuming all RESPONSIBILITY
cause there's a MONSTER WILL IN ME
that always WANTS TO KILL EMCEES"
Don't forget the consonant sounds too! Remember:
B,D,G - Together
K,T,P - Together
F,S,TH - Together
You can check out the phonetic families video I made here to understand a little bit more.
Well this is an oxy-moron. Because speaking in general expels breath. If you didn't, you wouldn't make any sound. Go ahead, try it quick. Ha ha. I know, right?
The key is to use your diaphragm to breathe. The deepest bottom of your belly. You don't want to use your chest, or your throat to breathe. This is going to be hard at first.
The best way to figure out if you are breathing from your diaphragm is look in a mirror and take a big belly breath. If your shoulders move upwards a lot then you are breathing with your chest.