How To Write Rap Lyrics (For Beginners)
Rap, like I always say, is one genre that is really versatile because it can be infused into any other genre without losing the authenticity of such genres: Opera, country, rock, Afrobeats, gospel, spoken word, pop… the list goes on.
However, one has to be creative enough to be able to apply rap to these genres. So before you decide to infuse rap into any of these, start with the basics. Learn how to rap then learn how to write.
Basically, the first step to writing a rap is to listen to rap songs. Dissect them. Understand them. What’s the message? Does it resonate with you or do you just fancy the melody? These are some of the things that people don’t really consider.
The reason why this should be taken into consideration is that it serves as a guide and enhances your creativity. You can pick up styles and refine them. Heck, you can even create yours! When that is done, you can then proceed to take the following steps:
Choose a topic
What message do you want to pass across? This is what your song is about. It could be about anything. Love, heartbreak, hope, determination, abuse, your struggles e.t.c.
Unfortunately, these days a lot of what we hear talk about sex, drugs, gangs, and money— and these are some of the reasons why some people would rather not listen to rap. But the truth is, rap songs do not have to pass across negative messages.
Use a beat
I strongly recommend that you have a beat before you write a rap as it allows you to clearly map out the song structure. It also allows you to distinctively understand how your lyrical rhythm and cadence should be.
Another reason why you should use a beat to write your rap is that it makes it easier for you to rehearse and you know exactly how long your song should last. Simply put, you’d easily know where and when to start and end your song. I hope this makes sense.
If you want to use beats without copyrights issues, I recommend using beats from YouTube Audio Library. However, you have to make sure that you check the license type. The license type lets you know whether or not attribution is required.
If you are using any other beat outside YouTube Audio Library, I strongly recommend that you have the consent of the composer so you don’t get slammed with a lawsuit (if you intend to monetize it later in the future) or better still, create your own beat if you can.
Another option is to buy beats if you can afford to. I personally haven’t bought any beats online so I can’t recommend any to you. If it’s something you’re interested in, just do a search and be sure to make an enquiry about their terms and agreements (if they have any).
Determine the structure
Similarly, you need to consider how many lines per verse you’d like to have as well as the rhyme scheme (learning a bit of poetry will do you a whole lot of good). This will be a lot easier to write when you are working with a beat.
Write down the lyrics
Writing lyrics generally can be difficult for some. If you have trouble doing this, you can write out a story that talks about your message. When you’re done, pick out important points from your story and write them in lines.
You can dissect your story in parts. What happened? How it happened? What’s happening? So if you intend to have three verses, each one could represent a verse.
And no, it doesn’t necessarily have to follow this format. You can come up with something else– do you!
Play with words. Work on your imagery. Get rid of clichés. For example, suppose I’m writing a rap about heartbreak and I want to talk about how I was dumped, instead of saying, “he dumped me and left me for another”, I can say, “he tossed me like a used diaper cause he thought she was better”.
The difference between the two is that one is overused (cliché) while the other creates a powerful image in the mind of the listener. This is how you stand out.
Revise till you’re satisfied:
Edit. Ask for opinions from others and see if you’d like to make changes based on their responses. Keep editing until you feel good about it. But at the same time, do not edit to the point where your song loses the vibe. Simply put, don’t let it lose its originality.
I know this is lengthy but I believe it’d be worth it. You can check out my Youtube channel and use it as a guide if you want. I’d recommend you listen to Wolverine, You are Enough, Before You Judge and The Black Tale. These should help you understand how the beat can influence the song structure and cadence.
There you have it! Have you tried writing rap lyrics? How did it go? If not, is it something you’d like to try? Drop comments below!
Previously on How To’s: How To Start Over In Life