The words I am about to say have been true for more than 40 years and will probably remain true until the end of time. ABSOLUTELY ANYBODY CAN LEARN HOW TO RAP (even Donald Trump). No matter where you live or how you make money while you’re living, you can rap as long as you have it in you. You’d be surprised, however, to find that not everyone can awaken that inner emcee so easily. Maybe you grew up in a house that played nothing but ACDC or the people in your town worship Tim Mcgraw or maybe you’re just a dad that still feels like he can bust-a-rhyme.
It really doesn’t matter who you were before, if you’re planning on taking those first steps to becoming a great rapper then you’ve come to the right place. Rap is more than a genre of music, it’s an art form. One that requires skills most people can develop. Don’t pay attention to the mumblers on the radio or the wannabe ballers on Instagram, being a great rapper means having the mind of a wordsmith and the heart of a true performer. So without further ado, here are a few tips on how to learn how to rap.
#1 – Get A Rhyme Book!
This should go without saying. I mean, there’s a reason the best rappers are considered ‘great writers’ too and not ‘great texters’. No matter how cool your iPhone is, it’s never going to beat the satisfying feeling of putting pen to paper. It’s the fundamentals of your craft and you’ve got to get familiar with ink. Start out with something small, roughly A5 in size, and take it slow by writing rhymes without a beat. Think of it like a journal and write about your everyday adventures like The Fresh Prince used to do.
All the new experiences, bad decisions, good times and genuine mistakes.You’re not trying to create a hit song just yet and you’re definitely not trying to impress anybody either. These rhymes are for your eyes only, so start out writing at least one full page a day and you’ll be able to to see yourself develop over a smooth period of time. When you feel like you’re ready to move up, start writing actual songs that feature 2 verses and 2 choruses (verse-chorus-verse-chorus).
Just remember to stay true to yourself and don’t lie about who you are. Some of the greatest verses ever written came from somewhere honest and deep, regardless of the genre.
#2 – Get To Know Your Influence
If you’re interested in learning how to rap then you probably have an artist in mind that’s your absolute favourite. You know, the guy/girl you probably hope to emulate one day. Use a very critical ear the next time you play his/her album. Analyse each lyric with a fine tooth comb and try to understand the story they’re trying to tell. You’ll soon hear topics repeat themselves as the artist continually references a particular aspect of their lives (if all you hear about is drugs and money then please, find yourself a new favourite pronto).
Try to learn a bit more about them as people too. I mean, the more you know about Calvin Broadus, the more you’ll know about Snoop Dogg and how he got started writing those sweet rhymes. Those aren’t just words, those are sounds. That’s not just a voice, that’s an instrument. There’s an element of rhythm and harmony in every great rappers flow that makes them unique and the best know how to adapt for each new beat.
Eventually, it’s time to go full college mode and listen carefully to the way they incorporate alliteration and assonance to add emphasise to these elements.
Let’s take a look at a snippet from the song ‘Swimming Pools’ by Kendrick Lamar.
“…I was in a dark room/ Loud tunes/
Lookin’ to make a vow soon/
That I’ma get f***ed up/ fillin’ up my cup/ I see the crowd mood/….”
Now traditionally, the word ‘mood’ rhymes better with something like ‘food’, but if you look closely at the rhyme scheme you’ll notice that he’s actually repeating the vowel sounds. Every line ends with ‘ow oo’ (‘loud tunes’, ‘vow soon’, ‘crowd mood’) and that’s what gives an added rhythm to this section of the song. In fact, this entire song is so catchy that not many people notice the dark message of peer pressure and alcoholism that it’s actually about.
Get Swimming Pools on iTunes
#3 – Get To Know Your Voice
So you’ve spent a few weeks writing some dope rhymes in your book, but that only makes you one thing, a writer. At the end of the day, Rappers rap! So now it’s time to start rapping. But wait! Before you gather your closest friends so that they can hear you spit a few bars, you need to be your own audience first. I guarantee that YOU haven’t even heard YOU rap yet. Even if you’ve let out a few lines out loud to yourself in your room, science is not on your side.
Whenever you speak, you’re hearing your voice through the sound waves that hit your eardrum and through vibrations inside your skull that stem from your own vocal chords. Meaning that the voice you’re hearing is totally different from what other people will hear and that’s the voice you need to get familiar with. Now don’t go running out to buy a brand new microphone when the solution is probably sitting in your pocket.
Even if your smartphone doesn’t come with a voice recorder, there’s definitely an app or two out there that can get the job done. You’re not trying to create high-quality mp3s remember. Treat it like a training exercise. Being your own audience will benefit you more as you listen back and fine tune your style and discover just what comes naturally. It’s going to be awkward at first but you shouldn’t worry, it is for everybody.
#4 – ‘How To Rap’ YouTube Channel
Need some regular coaching? I’d suggest you head on over to YouTube and check out How To Rap, hosted by Drew Morisey. I’ve watched more than my fair share of Drew’s videos and I’m always impressed by the knowledge he has to share. Videos are uploaded every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on various topics that can help rappers of any skill level improve. Drew considers himself a Rap Coach and regularly records his own material as well.
Right now he’s in the middle of his own personal #100SongChallenge and gives an in-depth analysis on each track that he posts, focusing on the new things he tried, the things he felt he did wrong and how he’d do things differently on the next track. He even talks about any particular artist that influenced his flow in any way, so be sure to check him out.
Disclaimer: ‘How To Rap’ Youtube Channel and Drew Morisey are in no way affiliated with HowToMakeHip-Hop.com
#5 – Get Rhyming!
There ain’t nothing to it but to do it, So pick up a pen and start getting those lyrics out of your head and onto some paper. Do it every day and you can’t help but get better. Finding your rap name should be your next order of business now that you’ve gotten to know yourself and your craft a whole lot better. Think you need a greater challenge? Then start learning how to freestyle so you can show off more creative versatility.
Before you know it you’ll be ready to bring it all together to create your very own rap mixtape so you can start gaining fans from all around the world but don’t forget, hip-hop didn’t just get invented yesterday. It’s important to look back at legends that have come before like Run-D.M.C. and even Public Enemy in order to get the full appreciation of such an amazing art form.
Got any more questions you’d like to ask? Do you need a few more tips on how to learn how to rap? feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.
Ryan C. Voller, Recording Artist – Producer – Lead Contributor for HowToMakeHip-Hop.com
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