How To Make A Rap Song
I’ve been studying how to write rap songs for 17 years. There are SO MANY ways to create lyrical art. You will understand the basic skeleton for writing raps in this post, and then move on to create your own styles.
So how do you make a rap song? Hip hop music is typically broken down into sections. 2-3 verses which consist of 16 lines. And a hook/chorus which you can repeat throughout the song, which can be either 4 or 8 lines.
“Lines” in rap are called “bars”. They last 4 seconds of time and then repeat throughout the whole song. Each second, 1-2-3-4 is a beat. In order for your lyrics to sound good, you need to land the stressed parts of the words on those beats.
1-2-3-4 beats are repetitive. Meaning they always have the exact amount of space between them. You don’t count 1-2 really fast and then 3-4 really slow. While the instrumentals may create a different vibe, the measure of time passing (1-2-3-4 seconds) is always the same.
The faster you count 1-2-3-4, the faster the beats per minute, and the less syllables you can fit.
The slower you count 1-2-3-4, the slower the beats per minute, and the more syllables you can fit.
Rhyming is a massive part of hip-hop and rap. You can start by placing rhymes at the end of each line, which is the 4 beat.
Hey, my name is Matt and i just came to write a SONG
Read the rest of that so you can make your rappin STRONG
Every language is mixed between stressed and unstressed syllables. You can identify the stressed part of words and phrases because they are the more emphasized sounds. Everything else is an unstressed syllable.
So for example, I will bold the stressed syllables and leave the unstressed syllables so you can see the difference:
There are many ways to arrange your words, but the number one key when starting out is to land stressed syllables RIGHT ON EACH BEAT OF 4. This is the basic structure of how to write a rap song so it actually sounds like rap.
There are definitely more things to learn about when writing rap, so keep reading if you need some more tips on structure and making your raps sound good.
Everything You Need To Know:
You’ll notice that on the 4th second we hard stop on the rhyme. This leaves time before another “bar” or “line” starts. You don’t HAVE to do this. Although when starting out, it allows you to take a breath without interrupting the flow.
That being said, there are 2 more options you can use instead of the hard stop on the 4th beat with a single stressed syllable.
Here are two more examples:
OR what you can do, is end the line with a hard stop on the 4th beat, and then use the next syllables to “bring in” your next line.
How To Structure Your Rap Song
Here is a breakdown of the most common pieces to rap songs. Generally hip hop beats made by producers will be structured with these pieces in mind.
Some beats have intro’s and some don’t. They generally last 2 or 4 or 8 bars long. Many times intro’s will be playing just sounds with no drum beats.
Verses in rap are usually 16 bars in length. So 16 lines. One of the best ways to structure your ideas is in groups of 4 bars. Switching up your flow or rhyme scheme every four bars makes it a smoother transition.
Hooks are usually 4 to 8 bars and repeated back to back and also in between verses. Hooks and chorus convey the general feeling or idea of the track in a catchy way.
A Bridge is a set of 2 bars that bridges the verse to the chorus. This is a way you can end each verse as a lead-in to the chorus. Sometimes producers leave space for these in their instrumentals.
Just like the intro, except concluding the song at the end.
How To Find Flows For Your RAPS
There are a variety of ways to find patterns and flows for your song. But one of the best ways is SCATTING.
Hands-down the best way to stay true to yourself as an artist, is to hum, or mumble, or scat over the instrumental beat you want to write too. OR even if you don’t have an instrumental in mind.
The idea of scatting out your rhythms is super easy, but requires understand of stressed and unstressed syllables, again. Hm, weird they keep coming up eh? Good thing we learned that already.
The best way to do this is to say gibberish. So if you were to mumble out:
It would be like:
When you’re scatting just try landing stressed syllables on the beats.
Pro Tip - Use pauses or moments of time without words on purpose. This will allow you some time to breathe. Great rap writers do this often so that they never run out of breath.
Techniques For Writing Rap
There are endless ways to come up with raps. Here are a couple ways to get you started.
Mumble/hum/gibberish over the beat and then replace that gibberish with actual words that fit the stressed and unstressed syllable pattern. Anything you mumble over the beat will only be a combination of either a stressed or unstressed syllable. So manipulate what you want to say to fit this rhythm.
Rhyme First Method
Think up a bunch of cool rhyming words that are generally relevant to your topic and then form lines around those rhymes.
For example, say I wanted to find rhymes for the phrase:
I would think of rhymes for it first.
Lol these are the first things that came to my head so don’t judge how weird my brain works.
But then you do this a bunch of times and then try to create lines around those rhyme schemes. Actually Eminem will often make raps using this method.
Freewrite a paragraph summary without rhyming. Then take those lines and morph them into the flow you want and add rhyme schemes to them. This is a cool way for how to make rap songs.
Find some pictures that create the general mood for your song. Then write about those pictures. Write how they make you feel, what they make you think, or where they take your mind.
You can create so many ways to make a rap song it’s ridiculous. Hopefully these help you get started in writing some dopeness. I can’t wait to hear it.
The Rakim Method
Here’s a really cool way that one of the legends of the game uses to write out all of his raps. Rakim. He puts down 16 dots on the page. One for each line in the verse. You can fit approximately 16 syllables into each line. Give and take pauses and space to enunciate longer or shorter words. Or space for breaths but it looks like this:
This is a great way for beginner’s to start learning how to write a rap song, because it adds structure to your verse. There are generally 16 lines of space for a rap verse, and beatmakers recognize this and usually leave that amount of time available.
Here is a cool discussion on how Rakim talks about these 16 dot strategy for writing raps.
LEAVE YOUR RAPS IN THE COMMENTS