Rap is an extraordinary form of art. It has influenced thousands of artists around the world both inside and outside the hip hop culture, helped in the invention of many musical genres and styles and has engaged millions of fans globally.
Such a commitment to this form of art is due to its forwardness, raw narration of the struggles and everyday problems that ordinary people tend to face in the streets, through lyricism, speech and poetry.
How to rap over a beat
If you are interested in learning how to rap over a beat and write lyrics like the professionals of the field do, then this is a must-read article for you, that explains in detail the exact steps you have to follow in order to learn how to search and find your talent, harness it and become a successful rapper.
Listen and learn the history of rap
First and foremost, you need to be familiar with the genre of hip hop. You need to listen to lots of music and learn as much as you can about its history. Hip hop is a complex and very interesting culture originating back in the 1970s, when young African-American had started organizing block parties.
Hip hop music has many variations and diversities, like the elegant sound of the West Coast gangsta rap style of California, to the dirtiness and smoothness along with raw lyrics East Coast style of New York, plus a large variety of other styles.
Modern rap is the evolution of all those styles, mixed with a twist of newly born sound styles such as dirty south or trap, many young rappers have managed to create their own breeds of hip hop very successfully, showing the capability of rap to evolve easily over the years.
All of this music is today available for you to listen to, get inspired and find what is appropriate for you and expresses you best as an individual.
Study rap artists
Studying other rappers, both old and new, gives you a better more rounded perception of what rap as a form of art is all about. It can help you find rappers close to your own interests and focus on how they operate the language, the lyrics they wrote or even the methods they use to freestyle.
It is essential that you pay attention to the details, such as the pronunciation and the right use of the slang, because every region has its own variations and peculiarities. For example, a slang phrase that could be used successfully and be accepted in the region of California, could prove a disaster for the region Of New York.
What you can also learn from different artists, is the ways they use their skills and flows, and the different techniques they may have developed to make their lyrics rhyme better.
All those facts are the necessary help you need to move to the next step, and fortunately we live in the age of information and digital downloads, so you should find every album of every artist easily on the web and study it thoroughly.
Define your style
Being able to listen to such a wide variety of hip hop music, study all those genres and artists means that pretty soon you will be able to define your own style. You have to think which style is closest to your personality, and your beliefs as a person.
To begin with, here are some examples of rap styles:
- Conscious rap
- Knowledge rap
- Battle rap
- Freestyle rap
- Horrorcore rap
- Underground rap
- Old school rap
- Story telling rap
- Satiric rap
- Bragging rap
You can choose either one of these that you think suits you best, create a new one that has not been invented yet, or make a mixture of some of the already existing styles and evolve them to something special and new.
It is up to you to decide, but keep in mind that authenticity is the key. Your audience is able to understand when someone is not original, and if you tend to do so they will disapprove and eventually stop engaging to your music. Choose wisely.
One aspect of rap most people forget, is the correct use of language, words and vocabulary. There is no better way to improve these skills than reading. You can choose a variety of books to read that are going to help you make your poetic and lyrical skills better.
Some significant suggestions are:
Those genres of books not only will help you improve your linguistic skills and provide you with numberless words and references, but they will also upgrade your knowledge level, something extremely useful when it comes to rap due to the use of metaphors, examples and fact being part of almost every rap verse.
Understand the rhythm of the beats
What rap is all about, is the capability to combine your lyrics with the beats in an interesting and intriguing way, so that you can engage your listeners and manage to acquire new listeners constantly. In order to achieve this, you not only need to write exceptionally good lyrics, but also present them equally good.
They best way to do this, is to get familiar with the hip hop beats, and obtain the skill to master them. What this means is that you have to know the physiology of every beat you want to rap on, feel the rhythm and match your rap verses on it accordingly.
Practice on the beats
The best and most common way to understand the rhythm, is the oldest one. Practice your lyrics and verses on the beats. Make a playlist of the beats you like, and save some hours of your day (two to three hours a day is a nice amount of time) perform them.
A nice solution is to practice on many different kinds and styles of beats, so that you have more options and be abler to define which is more convenient for you and your rap style. Don’t be afraid to experiment, as experimentations is the birth mother of many new ideas.
Another thing you can do, is learn some verses of your favorite artists, search the web and find the instrumental version of the song you like (most of them are available online), and practice with the verses of that song.
By saying the lyrics and the verse of an already successful and skilled rapper out loud, you giving your brain the ability to understand first-hand how the artist uses the words and makes them match the beat, so that you can apply some of his techniques on your own verses.
What is more, a very helpful way to analyze and understand your language and rap skills better, is to practice acapella. The definition of acapella is simple: sing or in this particular occasion rap your verses without any music.
The absence of music helps you hear what you say louder and clearer. This way you are able to listen to your mistakes in detail and as a result be more certain about the significant changes you may need to do.
Practice on your pronunciation, your speech speed, try to master the volume of your voice and give color to it when needed and finally try to correct or avoid words or methods of rap that make you sound weak and less professional.
Learn to freestyle
Every form of freestyle can prove very useful as far as you learning to rap is concerned. This happens because freestyle rap requires the use of imagination, fast thinking and pretty advanced language skills.
Devoting some of your everyday time to practice your freestyle techniques can become an amazing advantage in the future, considering that rap battles are a very common way for rappers to start building their name and sometimes even launch their careers.
In addition to this, your freestyle level will define your lyrical level too. If you become able to construct freestyle rap verse fast, technically advanced combined with interesting vocabulary and word references, then it is certain that you can more easily write down lyrics.
The key to being able to maintain high levels of creativity and be productive, is consistency. You need to make time every day seven days a week to practice your freestyle rap skills or your written lyrics, in order to see some significant improvement over time.
Think of it like a session in the gym. First day you feel weak but then over time and some hard training sessions you feel stronger and stronger. The same principles apply when it comes to learning how to rap too.
Adjust your daily program and make your rap sessions a part of your everyday routine. That way you make your mind feel obliged to continue and you avoid skipping your practice sessions.
Develop your skills
Do not be complacent. The feeling that you made it may be the beginning of you not trying to get better any more, especially in times when people talk about you and admire your rap and lyrics.
Try to stay focused on your goals, and do not get distracted by the short term success. Improvement is your only ally and you have to remember that hip hop music is an extremely competitive genre with lots of skillful artists waiting to take your place or show the world they are better than you.
Be persistent. The day you master one aspect of rap start improving the next one. The more skills you manage to acquire the better results you are going to notice as a rapper, and the more engagement you are going to receive by your audience.
When you think you reached a certain level and it is the right time, write your own lyrics. Being in the beginning you do not need to impress someone so do not get anxious or stressed. Just let your imagination free, grab a piece of paper and create.
Writing your first rap song can seem pretty complex the first time, so here is a list of things you should do in order to get organized:
- Find some free time
- Be comfortable
- Have a pen and a piece of paper ready
- Find a nice spot to sit
- Think of a topic
- Structure your song
- Decide on your verses and hooks
- Write the lyrics
- Revisit the song
- Make corrections
- Finalize the song
You do not need to keep or use every verse you create. When you feel that a verse is not what you ideally wanted or is not as good as it should be, you should leave it be. Sometimes it takes a significant amount of time for artists to write their verses due to lack of concentration or inspiration.
Take your time, write only when you feel comfortable and the urgency to write lyrics. Not being a part of the music industry yet has its own advantages, and the absence of time pressure is one of those.
Record a song
Once you have written the lyrics for your song, it is time to record it. Practice your verses and learn your lyrics by heart, as this will help you make a better performance and be more expressing.
Things you should prepare to record your song:
- Estimate your budget
- Find a beat
- Find a studio
- Record your song
- Mix and master your song
- Finalize it
- Adjust your budget
All things considered, recording a song is not as simple a process as you may have thought, but it is not the hardest one to manage to. You need to be organized and concentrated, so that you do not waste any of your time, which means wasting your money.
Try to research hard enough and find the best music partners possible so that the result is as satisfying for you as possible. A skillful beat maker and an experienced sound engineer are both necessary, but starting just now you have find what’s best according to your budget limitations.
Remember to keep notes. Writing down what went wrong, what you need to change and which parts of the recording you think you should have done otherwise, will be a great help for you next time you decide to record a song.
Do not limit yourself. Like writing the lyrics, improving in recording sessions requires hard work and practice. Prepare more songs and record them even as draft or demos if you don’t have the sufficient funds for mixing and mastering services.
You need to make the recording studio familiar to you and start to feel comfortable with the process of recording, so that you are able to improve your performance in the booth.
Do not compromise. Is any of your music partners disappoints you or he work is not satisfying you, don’t stress yourself. Try to discuss the problems you face with him so that you can work on a solution as a team, or consider changing partners. The ultimate purpose is quality music.
Practice with your people
Practicing your rap verses and improving your skills alone has its advantages, but you are not the only person that is going to listen to your songs or live performances. To be exact, other people are going to be the final receivers of your music in most occasions.
Their opinion matters. A lot. Consider gather your closest friend and performing your verses, raps or even your complete songs for them. Let them familiarize with your music and keep them focused on your lyrics as much as possible.
In the end ask them for their honest opinion. Closest friends tend to be over-sincere and this will help you shape a better perception about your songs and the level of your skills and writing, especially in the beginning.
Listen to their words carefully, and focus on the little details they may indicate. Those details may seem unimportant to them, but may also be crucial factors that if you adjust correctly will determine the whole course and improvement of your writing or performance level.
You can take it a step further, and ask your friends to test your songs to their friends to and ask for their opinion. This way you broaden your audience and collect a bigger number of data that will help you improve as an artist.
Opinions, either good or bad when considered carefully can prove significantly important. Try to ask for them and not to avoid them.
After your songs are ready, recorded, mixed and mastered, what you should do is collect your best ones, decide on a number and present them as a complete project or album.
First things first, you have to find a designer that will make the album covers for you. Album art is extremely important as it is the first thing a potential buyer of your work would see, and as it is well known an image is equal to a thousand words.
If you do not have a designer to create them for you, you should search and find a quality cover design service to create your album covers.
On the other hand, if you are on a limited budget you could visit one of the following websites, where the design of your album art is offered in affordable prices:
- SEO Clerks
- Source Market
Whichever service you choose, make sure it is the best choice for your project. It would be a shame if you worked hard and you managed to create a great result as an artist, only for your entire work to be considered of low quality due to the album covers.
Take your time and consider it, test the designer and buy the art only if you are %100 satisfied with the result. Ask for as many revisions as you can, and do not hesitate to buy a more expensive design for a better album design.
Distribute your music
Living in the digital era, there are fortunately numberless ways to distribute your music digitally, though you should first consider distributing it the more conventional ways, such as dropping by and leaving your album for sale at:
- Local music stores
- Local non-music stores (Tattoo, clothing, graffiti shops etc.)
Next step, you should distribute your music digitally through online music stores. Some great music distribution platforms are the ones listed below:
- CD Baby
What is more, you should consider distributing your music via social media platforms. Considering that millions of people using them every day, they are a great place to make your music known to the people and acquire potential customers.
Here is a list of some of the most important social media platforms:
Finally, what you most importantly need to do is sell your albums and project at your live performances. Live stages are the place where people get a better view about you and your music, and it is extremely important that you have your albums and merchandise for those interested in your music, to gain attention and engagement.
Make a live performance
You now have developed your writing skills, you have evolved as a rap artist and you created your album you need to perform live for your audience.
For your listeners, watching and listening you perform live is the final and most important step to start shaping a view about you as an artist. Make sure you are accordingly prepared and have practiced your songs enough, so that you can present your songs as best as you can.
Be modest and focused on your music. Unnecessary and fake reaction to gain attention are not really appreciated by the people, and this way you may ruin your opportunity to build a reliable name for you as an artist.
On the other hand, if you try hard for the best performance possible, even when the circumstances are not as ideal as they could be, you show your audience that you care about their satisfaction and that way you earn their respect, which will benefit you at your next live shows or projects.
To conclude, learning how to rap over a beat properly and writing lyrics is a long process and requires devotion, especially when talking about hip hop music, one of the most overcrowded and competitive music genres in the music industry.
You need to consider all situations and make your decisions carefully. Being ambitious is not wrong, but you shouldn’t rush things in order to gain money or fame.
This way you cannot build a stable basis for your music, and can do more harm than benefit yourself.
Take your time and work hard!