A rap song is more than just rhyming words; it's a song that shows how you feel about a topic. It is poetry, in a sense. The chorus or chorus in a rap song makes up about 40% of it, and in the same way, a bad chorus can ruin all rap. Creating a chorus that is consistent with the rest of the rap and is unique and personal to you is essential to creating a good song.
Part 1 of 3: Deciding on a topic
Step 1. Decide on the theme for the rap
Maybe you have an idea for a chorus but you need the other part of the lyrics, or maybe you have the lyrics but you need a chorus. Either way, you want your rap to have a general theme or main idea. Before writing the lyrics, brainstorm ideas.
- If you get stuck on rap ideas, you can visit online websites that have song subject lists to get some ideas. Think about what you want to focus on in your rap. Will it be about a place, an emotion, a period of time, a lifestyle, an action, an event, etc.? Do you want your rap to have a more positive and joyful message or do you want to communicate something negative, difficult or frustrating?
- When brainstorming rap ideas, it helps to think about your audience, or the audience you want to reach. Rap artists like Drake and Lecrae are quite different in terms of what they snuff about and the audience they are targeting. Drake snuffs for a more secular audience while Lecrae's audience is mostly Christian. As you build your rap, you want to make sure you write something appropriate for your audience.
Step 2. Freestyle rap
Many artists start creating their raps by freestyle rap and then jotting down every emotion, thought, or idea that crosses their mind. This can be a helpful step before you start writing a rap, as you want the rap to be individual and personal to you.
Sometimes it helps to have a pencil and paper with you or a notepad app on your cell phone so that you can write letters throughout the day as they come to mind. Sometimes artists have the best lyrics or find inspiration for their songs in times when they do completely different things. Jotting down these thoughts or ideas as they arise will make it much easier to brainstorm lettering ideas later
Step 3. Listen to other artists
It's best to do it after you've brainstormed to avoid the temptation to copy other artists' lyrics. After you've brainstormed, it can be helpful to find other artists and listen to their raps. You may have some ideas for the structure or organization of rap, or just ideas about how rappers use lyrics to create a story.
- The best way to start is to search for your favorite artists. Your rap style will somewhat resemble theirs as you obviously like their music so it can be a great way to get ideas or understand the inspiration behind their raps. However, avoid copying their music. Mix their styles with yours to create something that is uniquely yours.
- Sometimes the raps don't say it all, which means there is more to the lyrics. Try to find some comments about raps so that you can better understand how artists use lyrics to convey certain emotions or ideas to their audience.
Step 4. Get inspired by your own life
Some of the best works of art are created from personal experience. Think about the things in your life that are important to you, that you feel others should know about you, or that you want them to experience, and use those emotions and memories in your rap to create something personal.
- Maybe you want to rap about family, an achievement or failure you've experienced, a heartbreak, etc., or you can rap about things that aren't necessarily personal but that you are passionate about, such as poverty, well-being, abuse, tolerance, etc.
- Not all raps have to be personal, but when someone sings or raps a song that is personal, it is usually easier to say more in the lyrics, which will help hook the audience. Eminem's song “When I'm Gone” is heartwarming because he raps about his relationship with his daughter.
Step 5. Get creative with your music
Just because most rappers rap about certain songs doesn't mean you have to. Some of the best and most entertaining raps are based on things you would never think a rap song would address. These types of raps can be interesting and can really appeal to a niche (specific audience). So, rap about whatever topic you want, but don't feel like you have to fit a mold.
Weird Al may not be your favorite rapper, but he uses other songs and creates a parody of his own music. He took Chamillionare and Krayzie Bone's rap “Ridin '” and included it in his own rap “White and Nerdy,” which is quite known for its creativity and humor
Part 2 of 3: Writing the Chorus
Step 1. Create a rhythm
Sometimes it is easier to pick a rhythm first, before thinking about specific lyrics. It can also help inspire you to create the chorus, as you will have some music to format the chorus lines. You can usually find different types of rhythms online, or you can create your own with some programs.
A beat can also be highly dependent on the emotions in a rap that you hope to communicate. If your rap is about something positive, then the faster the beat, the better. However, if your rap is about something difficult or sad, then a slower beat might be more appropriate. Maybe you snuff to express your anger or frustration, so the beat will depend on the direction you want to go with your rap
Step 2. Pick a topic
You may have already done that when you thought about the theme for rap. Some rappers like to write part of the lyrics to a song first before doing the chorus, as they don't want the lyrics to revolve around the chorus. Other artists will write the chorus first and then use it as the basis for the rest of their rap. You may want to pick a word and use it as the main idea for the chorus.
- Lecrae uses the word "boast" in his song "Boasting" to communicate that depending on yourself is a futile search that leads nowhere. While he uses this word once in his chorus, it is the basis of his rap structure to communicate that bragging about yourself is foolish because tomorrow is not guaranteed.
- There is no perfect formula for writing a rap. Do what's best for you, whatever helps your creativity flow.
- The best choruses are those that hint at the main idea without being too obvious. These choruses use creativity and a different vocabulary to promote the main idea without explicitly saying it.
- For example, the song "Hovi Baby" by Jay-Z has a chorus with the lyrics "I can't touch the untouchable, then I'll break the unbreakable." He basically tells his audience "I'm awesome" using a creative approach that communicates his idea without using those exact words.
Step 3. Use that theme to give structure to the chorus
Using your chosen theme or word, write the chorus and make sure each barline communicates something different about the main idea. A typical chorus is made up of 8 lines (4 verses) and usually follows a set of 16 bar lines.
- A barline is essentially a line of a verse, which is divided into two lines or two barlines. Usually there are 3 sets of 16 bars and 3 choruses in a rap.
- The classic way to structure a rap is around 16 bars. The first 16 bars of your rap should be about a minute long, then comes the chorus, another 16 bars, the chorus again, maybe a bridge, and finally the final chorus.
Step 4. Incorporate pictures and action words
To attract your audience to your rap, you will want to create a story, giving images and examples of what your rap communicates. The more you manage to get listeners into the scene, showing them the story and characters you've created, the more they'll be drawn to your rap.
Macklemore's song "Downtown" uses symbols like "chrome mirror," "banana seat," or "two-wheeled canopy," and also uses action words like "cross the alley" or "tiptoe down the street.". These phrases really help create a scene that is easy to follow
Step 5. Make the chorus catchy
When people remember rap songs, the chorus is usually the first thing that comes to mind, so you want the chorus you create to be catchy and stick in people's heads after they hear it. The theme of the chorus does not matter so much, but the rhythm of the verses and the creativity that you have put into them.
- Many artists can create choruses that don't even make sense, but because they are catchy and fun, people enjoy them and continue to listen to them. Your focus should be to create a choir that you enjoy. In the song “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang the chorus says: “I said a hip hop the hippie the hippie to the hip hip-hop, and you don't stop”. It doesn't really make sense but it's catchy and fun to sing along.
- Many great choruses are simple but powerful with what they say. Drake's song “Started from the Bottom” contains a chorus that repeatedly says “I started from the bottom”, but communicates to its audience that it has come a long way from where it started.
Step 6. Make the lyrics rhyme
Rhyming in a rap song is essential, but you don't want to write a verse just to rhyme. Start by writing the letter first, and then find words that are “close rhymes,” meaning that if you modify them a little they will create a rhyme. Then, as these words begin to wear out, begin to structure the verses in such a way that they rhyme, but try to do so in a way that doesn't change the content or message of the verse.
- Normally, the letters rhyme after two lines (bar lines): the first line rhymes with the second line, the third with the fourth, etc. However, artists often pause somewhere in the middle of their lyrics, with a separate line that does not have a rhyming counterpart.
- It may be helpful to use a rhyming dictionary or a thesaurus when you don't know how to rhyme letters.
Step 7. Decide between a sung or rapped chorus
There are two different ways to perform a chorus: you can sing or you can rap. Artists who tend to combine pop music with rap usually sing their backing vocals, but net rappers often rap their backing vocals. You can choose one or the other or you can incorporate both into your rap.
Chief Keek and Lil Durk rap most of their songs, while Drake and Kanye are examples of artists who occasionally combine rap with singing
Part 3 of 3: Modify the music
Step 1. Practice the chorus with the rest of the lyrics
This is the best way to determine if the chorus and lyrics flow together. Read your rap out loud or practice rapping it and pay attention to the content of the chorus and lyrics, as well as the rhythm and structure of your rap.
Step 2. Snuff with a beat
You may have practiced your rap verses with your chosen beat, but you need to rap all the lyrics to the beat to hear the connection between the lyrics and the music. You can also practice intonation in your voice to emphasize certain sentences or the chorus.
Step 3. Modify the music
After you've practiced your rap, it may be the way you want it, but you may also need some adjustments to improve the rhythm, continuity, or beat of the lyrics with the beat. Edit the lyrics or rhythm as necessary so that you can achieve the best result.
Step 4. Make a presentation
Music is created for others to hear, so… why not rap in front of a small group of people or a friend? Also, once you're done, you can ask for suggestions or constructive criticism.