Rap is, and always has been, a way of going beyond the limits. Rappers continually work to innovate and transcend the expectations of their audience. The lyrics of the songs play a very important role in this process, especially because of their emotional rawness, cohesion and wit. This may sound daunting, but don't worry! You just need to know how to brainstorm, compose a good chorus, and write the verses and a bridge to back it up.
Part 1 of 3: Brainstorming Your Song Lyrics
Step 1. Use your personal experiences as inspiration for your lyrics
If you grew up listening to rap, chances are you will be tempted to write about the same things that your favorite rappers write. If you had life experiences similar to theirs, then great! However, if you didn't have them, you shouldn't write about something you don't know about. Write about your own life and tell your own stories. Your audience will appreciate that you are authentic and honest.
- Be specific about your experiences in your song lyrics. Talk about the street you grew up on or the city or town you live in, your favorite brands, and what you think about different situations and events.
- Giving your listeners something they can relate to will make them more hardcore and help you build your fan base.
If you are precise, your listeners they could find something to identify withas they may have experienced the same events, lived on the same streets, or used the same brands.
Step 2. Have an up-to-date list of possible titles for your songs
It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the easiest ways to think of lyrics for a song is to think of possible titles for it. Look for catchy phrases on TV and in movies, in books, and in real life. You can use the titles as you hear them, or modify them to suit your vision as a composer.
Keep track of your list on your phone or in a notepad so you don't forget anything
Step 3. Find the rhythms you like
Listening to the beat tracks can be a good way to brainstorm. Try using some of your possible song titles and changing them to different paces. This can help get an entire chorus or verse going without much effort. You can find beat tracks online at sites like RapPad, RawHeatz, and RapBeats. You can also find them in apps like Rap to Beats, Auto Rap, and Rap Chat.
- Some sites and apps allow you to download the beats for free, but many of them require a payment to do so.
- Playing with the different rhythms will also give you a chance to improvise to find out how the lyrics of the songs you write fit together.
Step 4. Record yourself while improvising a beat
Record yourself on your phone or computer while improvising a rhythm. This way, you will be able to hear how the different letters sound together and you won't forget any of your ideas as you continue writing.
You should also make sure to jot down any lines that come to mind as you brainstorm. Even if you do not use them for the song you are going to write, it is better not to forget them, because you could use them as possible lyrics for later songs
Part 2 of 3: Writing the Chorus
Step 1. Use titles that can serve as a hook
The hook of a song is the sticky part of the song that stays etched in your head. If the title is easy to remember, chances are high that you can use it as a hook. Since it is so catchy, you will want to repeat it as much as possible. This is why many composers put their hook at the beginning, at the end of the chorus, or both.
- For example, the hook in the Snoop Dogg song "Drop It Like It's Hot" is "Drop it like it's hot", which is repeated numerous times throughout the song.
- The hook on Cardi B's song "Bodak Yellow" is "These expensive, these is red bottoms, these is bloody shoes."
- You don't necessarily have to use the song title to create a hook. You can always play with the different lyrical phrases that come to mind and that you think might fit well.
Step 2. Experiment with different lyrical rhythms
Most raps are 80 beats per minute (BPM), which means that each beat lasts a little less than a second. There are also usually 8 bars in the chorus of a rap with the beat on the fourth note, which means that the chorus will have 32 beats. The lyrical rhythm will depend on the number of words that the letter contains. If it has 32 words (or a smaller number of words with 32 syllables), you will need to rap each word or syllable over time. If you have 15 words, 14 of them will be in the bar and 2 of them could be 2 beats each or 2 beats and 1 beat each.
Use a metronome or an app like this to keep up with the rhythm. Once you've been writing for a while, you'll likely begin to internalize the rhythm of your songs
Step 3. Try various rhyme schemes
Making your verses rhyme is a good starting point for a beginner. Many phrases will rhyme in the last word in consecutive verses or in any other; however, you should experiment with rhymes that occur in the middle of verses or that are multisyllabic.
- Using a rhyming dictionary can effectively help you solve your difficulties in getting to the next verse of your rap.
- Once you've got the hang of writing rap songs, you should consider mixing up your lyrics, preventing them from rhyming all the time. Otherwise, the rhymes could limit your creativity and interfere with the rhythm of your songs.
Part 3 of 3: Write the rest of the letter
Step 1. Write your first verse
Rap verses are typically 16 bars long, making them twice as long as the chorus. The chorus lyrics are generally made to deal with the song's themes in an imprecise way, while the lyrics of the stanzas are made to provide more specific examples. Think of the stanzas as if you are telling a story. The first stanza should be the beginning of the story.
- For example, in Jay-Z's song "99 Problems," the first verse describes Jay-Z's presentation in the media and his problems with radio, rap magazines, and advertising.
- You should experiment with the rhythm and rhythmic scheme of the stanzas in the same way that you did with the chorus.
Step 2. Base your second and third stanza on the first
After you write the first verse, the next two should be much easier to compose. The second stanza should be the middle part of the story and the third, the ending.
- In the second verse of “It Was a Good Day,” for example, Ice Cube raps about not being disturbed by his enemies after he rapped about his mother making him breakfast in the first verse.
- Typically, rappers use the same rhythm and rhythm scheme in the second and third verse as they do in the first, but don't be afraid to change it to add something your audience might not expect.
Step 3. Add a bridge
The bridge is a kind of chorus that is supposed to be imprecise, but it is also expected to add something new to the song, be it lyrically, musically, or both. If you come up with other ideas for hooks in the brainstorming phase, you can use one of them to build your bridge letter. Then try playing with different rhythms, rhyming schemes, and vocal tones to see what sounds best.