How To Write A Rap Song About Yourself
The best way to rap about your life is to be authentic. People tend to see right through fake stories and music. So that being said, I did some research about how to write a rap song about your life in the best way possible and came up with these 7 techniques that will help shape your raps.
Show; Then tell
Use the Senses
Tell a Story
Who Are you today and how did you get that way?
Avoid passive voice
When rappers go to rap about their life they tend to fall in the category of telling people about it. Like “Yo, I had anxiety and it sucked”. This comes off as dry and not very fun to listen to. Where you could write from an active voice and use the senses to engage the readers when they listen. Like, “Feel my heart pound so loud it drowns out the crowd”. I mean it just sounds better. And then on the next line you can write a ‘tell’ line and incorporate your perspective.
Use your emotions to connect with the audience. For a long time when I wrote raps, I would just be thinking of cool multi’s and rhyme structures. Technical things. Sure it sounded cool, but people would tune it out after a while. There’s just no connection to the listener.
A really simple way to let your emotions out is to make sure you pick a beat that resonates with you. Freestyle over it, mumble, scat over top of the beat and write down your patterns. Even if it’s gibberish. You can replace the words later. And practice with sensory writing in order to get the listener more in touch and listening in. I touch on that below.
Forks In The Road
Pick out some life altering decisions in your life. The one’s where you were at a fork in the road and your life could have gone one or two completely different directions. Instead of just writing a rap about your life in chronological order, it’s more interesting to focus on these life altering decisions.
For example, i’m in the process of making a major move and I really want to change cities. The problem is that girlfriend does not… which is a problem to say the least. This is a fork in the road. What I do from this point will alter my future and should resonate with a lot of listeners in making decisions in life. Which everyone has to do.
Show.. Then Tell
This should just be a general point about writing raps in general. However if you go back and look through song after song after song of classic hits they tend to follow a distinct pattern. The pattern is show, and then tell. Show and then tell. Show and then tell.
Showing means writing from your perspective so that the listener can put themselves in your shoes and decide how they’re feeling about it. Similar to how a movie throws you in the middle of a plot.. You aren’t quite sure what is going on, but you feel what the main character feels. You can associate yourself with that person and decide how you feel from there.
Utilize The Senses
Wow, when I first found out about sensory writing I was blown away at how fast I formed some solid lines. You can’t fill all of your lyrics with sensory writing, but the combination of using your senses like Sight, sound, smell, taste and touch is rewarding. You get some cool ideas flowing almost immediately.
So if you want to try this out, write from your senses. Write down a whole bunch of stuff without rhyming or anything like that.
An example of this would be:
Goosebumps rising on the top of my skin
Smell of sweat punches my brain through my nose
Horns honking and clock towers ring
It’s a great way to work out some concepts and ideas you might not have come across before. So when trying to rap about your life it’s a great way to get people in your state of mind and set the scene.
Tell A Story
Okay easier said than done. Well, not really. I found the easiest way to tell a story through your raps. Just write down the story, without rhyming at all. Just one giant paragraph or whatever. Write down your story. Include sensory writing ideas in this as well and then after you write your whole story down, start formulating lines together in that order and structure. Pick and choose what’s important for the progression of the story.
By far the easiest way to do it. The other way is to write one bar and then progress bar by bar trying to keep the story on track. This almost never works. Find the finish line, then work towards it.
Who Are You Today? And How Did You Get That Way?
Write down what you stand for today. What brought you to the place you’re sitting in right now. What were you like before this? And what did you do to get to where you are right now. Talking about these major life changes will really hit home with a lot of the audience. I can say from experience that Macklemore and Logic do a great job of this style of writing. Most of their hit tracks in the beginning were about these sorts of things.
Avoid Passive Voice
There is a really cool desktop app you can use called Hemingway App in order to find out if you are using too much passive voice in your writing.
To be honest this is probably one of the biggest problems I have when writing. But this will help engage your listeners and put them in your shoes for a couple minutes while they listen to your tracks.