Lyrics are essential in any genre, but perhaps they are the most important when it comes to building a strong rap song. After all, rap songs and hip-hop music rely heavily on lyrics, rhythm, and rhyme, whereas other genres divert more attention to melody.
Hence, you don't just need to know how to write a song in order to create rap songs, you need to know specifically how to write a rap song. Thankfully, we've built a step-by-step guide so that just about anyone can become great at writing rap. We'll cover what makes a great rap song, how to make rap music and a few helpful pointers below.
What Makes A Good Rap Song?
In order to understand how to write a rap song, we need to take a look at what makes a compelling rap song first. Here are some of the music industry standard elements you'll want to include in all of your tracks:
Hip hop music and rap music encompass "telling your truth." In many ways, these genres can be more vulnerable than others since you're essentially putting the story first. The song structure is typically relatively simple, but the rap songwriting process depends heavily on the story of the speaker. In order to write rap songs that hit home, the listener needs to believe you. Everything stems from a story.
Rap songs depend on flow more than any other genre of music. Not all does your own style have to be catchy and unique, but your cadence needs to be meticulously crafted, with each lyric hitting the beat exactly as you intended. Vocal delivery practice is a must since so much of rap music is built on your expression.
When writing rap and hip hop verses, you'll need to employ plenty of literary devices. On top of rhyme, incorporating double entendres, idioms, metaphors, etc. really make a rap song impactful. A great rapper knows that clever wordplay will help his or her personal experience connect on a stronger level with listeners.
When it comes to how to write a rap song, you need rap verses and a great beat. While verses come first, don't underestimate the power of production! A strong beat can easily carry a rap verse to mainstream success, simply because it sounds good.
You can lease a beat online, find a producer, or learn how to make your own beats. While rap music beat styles vary greatly in sound, classical hip hop tracks often incorporate samples from previously released songs into the beat. Sometimes rappers will build their beats around a sample or incorporate the chorus of a song into a hook.
How To Write A Rap Song In 8 Steps
Are you ready to write a rap song? Here's how to start building a banger, step by step. Remember that these steps aren't necessarily set in stone. In fact, your creative workflow could easily change when you start writing a new song. Think of these steps as a basic framework for learning how to write a rap song, but don't let them constrict your creativity.
1. Figure Out Your Message
Great rap songs have something to say. In order to write something impactful, you'll need to write about something you know. Listeners will undoubtedly be able to hear whether or not you're writing a song from the heart or just trying to write a rap song filled with generic ideas and inspiration.
Are you setting out to write a diss track? Do you want to write a rap about your come up? Whatever it is, speak to what you know. Before you do anything else, it's all about landing on the right idea. It doesn't necessarily have to be "deep", but make sure your idea of choice is authentic to who you are as an individual.
2. Build A Beat
One of the best ways to get your creative juices flowing is to write to a strong beat. It's a lot easier to come up with lyrics, rhyme words, and build out your rap song if you have this initial piece of the puzzle figured out.
If you can learn how to become a better producer by spending time on your own beats, you should. This can help a lot with the writing process since you'll be able to structure your track according to your own cadence and flow. New rappers might not be willing to put in this effort, but it's good practice. Plus, many of the greats (think Kanye West, Tyler the Creator, J.Cole, and Eminem) make their own beats. It's a good skill to have.
Alternative options include enlisting the help of a friend, purchasing a beat online on a place like Beat Stars , or hiring a producer in your area to help you make your tracks.
3. Find Your Hook
When it comes to learn how to write a rap song, you need to know how to craft a compelling a hook . This is the section of the song that sticks with the listener long after the listener has finished jamming out. Hooks are catchy, short sections usually in the chorus of a song that help express the overall theme of the track.
Think of the infectious chorus of "C.R.E.A.M" by the Wu-Tang Clan. Even though this hook is short, it's effective, and it certainly sticks in your head:
Hooks can also be sung instead of spoken. For instance, let's look at the classic "Ms. Jackson" by Outkast:
Your hook should be short, to the point, and encapsulate the main theme of the song. One strategy is to write a couple of hooks and then leave a little time in between. That way, you can have a stronger perspective on which hooks are catchy versus which ones might need some rework. Hooks almost always contain some sort of rhyme scheme and have a simple melody, if any, that listeners can easily latch on to.
4. Work On The Rhythm
Now that you have beat and a hook, it's time to figure out the central parts of your song structure. While a lot of a great song comes down to great lyrics, rap songs need great rhythmic cadence in order to be appreciated properly.
Don't worry if you haven't come up with lyrics just yet. Instead, open up your voice memos app, loop your beat, and start improvising. You could start rapping with random words, nonsense syllables, or any sound you can think of. The point is that you map out the rhythm and cadence for your raps.
Take care to listen to others rapper ideas. When you record, try out different types of cadences and flowing from one verse to another. Notice how others rappers experiment with different inflections and emphasis on certain beats. When writing a rap song, try your best to start writing with these subtle differences in mind. Just as a drummer would work on their beat emphasis, work on building your rhythmic structure.
5. Write Lyrics
Now that you have the basic rhythm and song structure put in place, it's time to fill in the blanks and start writing lyrics if you haven't already. If you need a place to start, begin with brainstorming everything you want to talk about in your song. Then, decide if you want to write the verse or chorus first.
This is not the time to be over critical about everything you've written. Let your creative juices flow and fill up the page with lyrics. It's important to incorporate a strong rhyme scheme, but other than that, try not to overthink this part of the process.
Tracks that sound good are effortless, and you don't necessarily need to sound like other rappers. In fact, most of the famous rappers we cherish today got there by marching to the beat of their own drum. Write as many words as you need to and know that you'll have time to revisit your writing further down in the process.
6. Practice Your Flow
You've built a beat, have a solid rhyme scheme, and authentic lyrics. Now, it's time to practice your rapping flow. This will make excellent practice for the recording process and can pinpoint weak words or musical elements that need improvement.
Record yourself rapping to the beat. Listen back, and think about what lyrics you need to annuncieate more and where you can place emphasis to improve your flow. After all, rapping lines sounds completely different from one rapper to the next, so it's important to cultivate your distinguished style.
The art of writing a rap song always comes back to using your authentic voice and ideas to hook your listener.
7. Rewrite and Edit
When you make a rap song, it's easy to stop there and become clouded by the process of creation. It's understandable since learning how to make a rap song comes with a lot of time and emotional investment. However, don't let this stop you from realizing your track to it's full potential.
Once you have a solid draft of the writing, instrumental, and flow, it's time to enter the editing process. Are there any words you want to change before you record? Are two lines not rhyming the way you thought they might? Should you explore alternative rhyme schemes?
Believe it or not, plenty of popular music goes through revisions before ever hitting the listeners' ears for the first time. Have the courage to take a critical look at your song and edit as needed. If you can't do it yourself, enlist the help of a friend. You can also use online forums to obtain honest feedback on your writing and raps.
8. Rap It Up
The best way to become a great rapper is to write a song, and then write some more! The writing process can be more tedious than expected, but it's important that you finish your idea from inception to professional release as much as possible.
Not only is this good practice, but choosing to make your way from the start to the finish line will help you learn so much faster than trying to create one "perfect" rap song. Write consistently and rap often to become of the strongest rapping forces to reckon with.
Tips for Writing Rap and Hip Hop
You now know the basic formula for building rap and hip hop, but don't let that stop you. Consider these few tips when writing your next set of bars.
If you're ever feeling low on inspiration, just look to other art. All great artists learn from those who came before them, so do your part to engage in this type of active listening, too. In fact, it's great to have a reference track for every songs you create. That way, you have something specific to look back to you if you feel lost in your creative process.
Also, take the time to study when you're not creating. Whenever you listen to a great rap song, try to learn from it. What is it about the lyrics that is so impactful? How does the melody of the hook work with the rest of the song? What rhymes stood out to you the most?
There are plenty of free resources on sites like Youtube designed to help you build your ear. You can even practice rapping along to your favorite verses or look up the written lyrics of a song to see how the speaker builds his or her case.
Experiment With Different Rhyme Schemes
Raps are all about the rhymes. Make sure you make an effort to keep things engaging for the listener and switch up your flow or rhythmic emphasis every couple of lines or so. You can also try out entirely new song structures, like swapping the typical 16 bar verse formula for an 8 bar verse.
Try Out Different Styles
It's easy to forget that rap is the dominant genre of so many other subgenres that are definitely worth exploring. To name a few, just listen to how different emo rap sounds from mumble rap sounds from conscious rap. There are so many different ways to implement your voice and verses as an artist, so don't be afraid to experiment with different beats, new inspiration, and new styles.
While it's important to find a way of rhyming that's authentic to you, know that you don't have to be confined by one particular style over another.
Don't forget that rap lyrics need an element of authenticity. Challenge yourself to go beyond your comfort zone. Remember that being vulnerable often leads to a deeper connection with your listeners.
Hopefully, this guide makes it easier for you to write your own rap song! Just remember that practice makes perfect. You're sure to write outstanding lines and rhymes in no time at all with the help of these tips.