How to Rap: A Complete, Easy to Understand Guide for Beginners

Rap music is essentially a mix and has similarities to poetry and storytelling integrating into music and song. Rap songs have 2 things that are really important to make it a rap song- Rhyme and Rhythm. These two are really important while creating a rap track. Rap lyrics are based on ideas and themes of telling a story or an experience. There are so many questions in the mind of someone who wants to start rapping like “How to make a rap song?”, “How to Rap?”, “Where to get started?” and other such.

To start with our question, “How to Rap?”, let’s get started with these steps:

After these, you’ll know how to rap better and rap fast.

How to Rap? Start with Notes!

For you to make a Rap song, you need to:

  1. Write them lyrics
  2. Get the perfect beats
  3. Put it out there
  4. Bonus: Improving Rap Voice

But first! Before writing your lyrics, it is better to keep a note about what you want to write. It is best to go for something that is close to your heart that also ignites a spark in you and something you would like to convey to the world. How to start rapping?

how to rap better and rap faster

Write them lyrics!

“Brain cells are lit. Ideas start to hit/Next the formation of words that fit/At the table I sit, making it legit/And when my pen hits the paper. Ahhh shit!” 

– Big Daddy Kane, Ain’t no half steppin’

Writing the lyrics is the first step towards making your first rap. It is important to know what you want to convey through your music. You can also go with the beats and melody first to fit the lyrics better. If your biggest question is: How to write a Rap song? Then you have your answers right here.

Rhyme

Rhyming is important because rhyme also gives rhythm to your lyrics. Knowing the syllables that you have written is good so that when it comes to matching them with the beat, and so as to not spend too much time editing it later on. But before you start to pen your lyrics down, try to sing bits of it out loud to set a pace and get the idea about beats and how you would like to proceed.

There are multiple techniques for rhyming that make every rap different. You need to choose the rhyming technique you want to use for your song. There are internal rhymes that occur in the single line of the bar. There is also a technique of multisyllabic rhyming. Essentially, it is about using more than one syllable to make it rhyme; artists like Eminem, Big Daddy Kane, and Rakim have been observed using the technique.

Writing the Chorus

Writing a rap song also tests your vocabulary. To find rhyming words, you can use various online tools and sites like rhymezone.com or any others. It is advisable to start with a chorus. The chorus of the hook of the song is what usually makes it popular. It pulls the listener in and makes them replay it over and over. But of course, it should be catchy. So writing the chorus part first; makes sense. It should also give you some idea as to what to write next or how you should proceed. It has to be inspiring (for you) for it to work! Now you need to write verses.

Writing the Verse

 For the writing part, first of all, write down the title as to what you want to write about. This gives you clarity and saves you from deviating now and then. Write too many verses. And then cut them down to important ones. You do not have to be abstract when it comes to expressing in Rap. You have to be straightforward and use strong, catchy, and impactful words. If you are good with metaphors, try that. Verses are where the main rapping occurs. Verses are typically 16 bars long.

There are no strict rules when it comes to rapping as it is an art form after all. You can be playful and experiment with different speeds and different patterns of flow. Now that you know that raps are written in bars, bars with punchlines are broken down into 2 parts. The first bar is the premise for the punchline and the next bar is the punchline. Learn how to create punchlines in rap for impact.

Flow and Pattern

Always keep the flow first. Never compromise with the flow of the song while squeezing in that one extra line or one extra wordplay. Save that for some other song and some other day, but do not try to squeeze it in at the risk of pattern and flow of the song.

REvise and REwrite

“I start to think, and then I sink/Into the paper like I was ink/When I’m writing, I’m trapped in between the lines/I escape when I finish the rhyme”

– Rakim, I know you got soul

Rakim very beautifully and effortlessly and in a poetic manner expresses his writing process with beautiful imagery.

You can also find a compilation of best rap quotes here.

For better writing practice, we would suggest that you write 16 bars every day. This will help you enhance your writing skills. In a way, this also means writing about one song a day. You can write 32 and 48 bars for one song. Eventually, cut out anything that you think doesn’t fit well with the story or the flow. Writing more than required lyrics helps you to reach to the back of your mind and get the core of your message. Don’t try to finish it off in a day. Give yourself time and practice and move at your pace. You might have to cut lines more often than not. So it is better to always start with more than sufficient bars.

how to write a rap song

Get Them Beats!

Now rap has gotta be in a real nice flow and pattern with beats that just fit right. The beats should add to the lyrics and not make it just bearable enough. It should enhance it and match perfectly. Beats help you pace the song. Staying on the beat is very important for the flow of the rap. The beats also determine the tempo of the song. You can find some producers online that can make you customized beats. You can also give them some examples so as to give some idea regarding the beats you want. You can’t get the rhythm right without the beats.

You need to have at least 3 to 4 different choices before settling for one. If you are not looking to put your work out anywhere and just doing it for yourself or some event, there are also beats available online for free. You can also create your own beats. Try making on your pc, sound equipment or you can also beat box.

Create Synergy with the Two!

Before settling on a beat, listen to a lot of beats. Just because a beat sounds good, does not mean it is good for your song! Choose wisely and according to the feel and the vibe of your song. Sing it out loud along with it and see how it sounds. This is important for you to get a better idea as to what is working and what is not. You can edit a few things about the beats here and a few lyrics there to ultimately create your best piece. You have put all your heart in the process till now and now, for it to come to fruition, you have just a few steps left.

Song Structure

The structure of a song in chronology goes in a certain way

  1. Intro
  2. Verse
  3. Chorus
  4. Bridge / breakdown
  5. Outro

Making a rap isn’t easy. It involves a lot of passion and that passion to be seen through your rap is even more important. Trying to rush the process will only make it slower. Take your time, and move forward with patience. After you are fully satisfied that this will work and that this is the best it can get, go with it. You can record but before that, you need to practice it out loud a lot many times.

Put It Out There!

Once you have practiced and are confident with your rap, what you need to do is find open mics perform there. You can perform at open mics and also try street rapping and other options where you need to do it in front of an audience. Rapping needs a certain level of confidence and experience for the rapper to sound more and more authentic and professional. Go out there and perform every chance you get. Then you can also record it and put it out there for people to listen online on platforms like YouTube, Spotify, or Instagram. There are many platforms and you can reach out to music producers to get the work done more professionally.

Be confident no matter what. There will always be people who will criticize and tell you that your work is not good enough, but let that flame of passion burn more and more and do not stop. It is a long journey and you cannot help but feel sad and angry when something so close to your heart and something you have worked so hard for gets criticized or rejected.

You can feel vulnerable putting your personal work out there but you have to. Your art deserves a place in this world. Consistency is also very important. It is necessary that you keep doing it every day and do it better than yesterday and today. Like I said before, even if your efforts don’t get applauded the first time you do a gig or a performance, keep doing it. It will build confidence and add that extra bravado in your voice and rapping. Freestyling needs a lot of experience and practice. So before you dream of freestyling your way into rap, you need to follow the steps above.

how to rap freestyle

Techniques for Improving Rap Voice

If you think that your voice sounds bad, after you start hearing your recorded verses, you are not the only one. I have been there for most of my life and that sucks out all your confidence, and all you are left with is unlimited potential in a limited confidence body. You DO NOT want that. All your voice requires is a bit of practice and experience. Rapping in the same tone without trying out different techniques and finding your own different voice, thinking you are gaining practice and experience is also a wrong way where many beginners get stuck.

First, you need to find your own unique voice. You can do it while practicing and trying out different styles and voices and tones. Of course, before starting, you need to warm up your voice and tongue and lips movement. There are various vocal warm-up exercises for it. Warming up before a performance is very important.

  • Practice breath control – Breath control doesn’t mean not breathing. A constant flow of breath is important. Time your air-time properly.
  • Relax your larynx to make your voice deeper and practice that way.
  • Do not keep the flow monotonous.
  • Putting certain emphasis on sounds, vowels, and words goes a long way.
  • Practice freestyling

For Performance

It is a known fact that live performances are very different from studio recordings. Your voice tends to change in both situations so keeping that in mind, you need to work around it. You need to know that there is a limit to how much your vocal muscles can do throughout the day. Speak very softly throughout the day of your performance as you do not want to strain your voice. Drink a lot of water but avoid cold water. Similarly, avoid ice creams and sweets.

You need to practice your every movement and every breath before your performance, and don’t try to do this practicing just a day or two before the performance. This is a really bad practice, especially beginners tend to do this a lot and most of the time, due to nervousness.

The microphone tends to amplify your voice. Make sure to not shout into the mic. This makes it really unpleasant for listeners and they tend to quickly label you as noisy. You want the audience to feel what you feel. But know that all the rage from your rap cannot be translated into overwhelming emotions, especially for those who haven’t experienced it firsthand right? However! Energy. is. important. Your volume. is. important. So being a bit loud is important. But! With the clarity of words and sound. Incorporate bass in your voice. The goal is to sound fuller and not airy. Rapping fast helps you in live performances and also keeps the listeners engaged and in awe.

Keep yourself audible to you. Turning up the beats to the fullest volume results in you not being able to listen to yourself. This is a big no-no. Be audible to yourself.

For Recording

While recording, you need to keep in mind that the studio doesn’t need shouting as there is already a mic, but at the same time, your voice should sound powerful and energetic. Performing live and performing in the studio, both are very different. So you want to take a deep breath and absorb the atmosphere first. The passion should be heard in your voice. And you should also keep a check on the flow and tempo.

how to rap better

What is Rapping Music?

The Hip hop genre, also known as rap music culture originated during the 1970s in New York as a result of the cultural exchange between African-American youth from the United States and immigrants from the Caribbean. Hip hop music was initially described to be a medium of outlet and a voice of the youth from marginalized and low-income backgrounds and it mirrored and showed the realities of their lives and mainly the struggle. Now Rapping is also called emceeing where the MC or emcee speaks in rhymes and rhythms, usually to a beat. Now, these Beats are majorly and you can say always, are in a 4/4 time signature. Rappers write and memorize, and alternatively freestyle or improvise on the spot.

Hip hop music was very much influenced by disco music and disco gave importance to the role of the DJs in creating mixes and tracks. Many old school hip hop can be found using disco tracks for the beats. And finally, today, starting from the late 2000s, the rise of streaming platforms such as Youtube, Spotify, and Apple Music, has made a huge impact on the entire music industry.

Make creative rapper names for you and your friends.

Some Useful Tips

  • For the very beginners to start somewhere, or to build up presence slowly, you can cover rap songs of other artists in your own way. This will help you get started if that is the major problem you are facing as a beginner.
  • Learning to count beats is among the most important parts of rapping. For instance, the “1,2,3,4” count is one bar. Now each bar has the same number of beats and hence, the counts. This means there are 4 beats per bar. This is also known as a measure.
  • Pushing yourself to gigs and performances. Be it watching or performing force yourself into it.
  • Attending workshops helps with knowing how and where to get started. It also builds up some confidence and experience in the field.
  • Try making your own beats. It helps you get the perfect music for your song. It also gives the rap a unique voice that is only yours.
  • Always try to keep improving your vocabulary. Words are important for you to express yourself in the best possible manner.
  • Always remember why you started rapping in the first place. Remember the feeling you got and remember how you feel every time you perform.
  • It is important for your song to sound like you. Make it yours and make it sound like only you can make this. It doesn’t have to be complex.

If you are very serious and want to make a career out of rapping, you should view “Becoming a rapper: Basics and Getting Famous”

Basic Gear for Rappers

Laptop– It is important if you want to keep making music. Investing in one if you don’t already have it, can prove to be a good decision. Most of your music-making, recording, and posting will happen from here itself.

Headphones– You will require good headphones to first, listen to other raps and beats properly and get into it; and secondly, you also need them to listen to your own music. So headphones are essential. Headphones with a good mic also helps you while recording your music. For starting out, you wouldn’t require a studio mic if this one is good enough.

Microphone– Now that you will start recording, you might want to get a microphone to record your music. It will make your rap song sound cleaner. You can buy one depending on your budget. There are many different and affordable mics available. If you want it to be perfect you can also look to rent a studio or look for friends who have a recording setup at their home. Alternatively, Headphones with a good mic attached work fine too and serve the purpose of headphones as well. You can always use your smartphone too. They are smart enough these days and you can easily start without investing a lot in gears. These are the basic things that you will require with minimum extra spending. Go and do what you love.

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