With rap music becoming mainstream now it's easy to understand why so many young listeners would want to try doing it themselves. Making words rhyme may sound easy but delivering an authentic sounding verse is harder than it looks.
After rapping and recording music for over 20 years I've learned a thing or two about how to make your lyrics and songs sounds better. Below are some tips that will help you become a better rapper.
While this won't be relevant for every single rapper out there, it will be for most. Naturally when most people start rapping, they go into a rather subdued version of themselves. Their voice is a lot more monotone, and they spit out their rap all at one level. Like I said, there are some rappers who intentionally have this as a style, and for some people it works. For most though, it won't. As with singers, you want to put emotion into your raps. People will listen to you because they want to be taken on a ride, and if they can hear in your voice that you're really feeling what you're saying, they're more likely to be able to connect with you and what you're talking about. Your voice should have highs and lows. If you're spitting a bar which is talking about something exciting, then sound excited. If you're asking a question in your lyric, make it sound like you're really asking a question. If you're dropping angry or depressed lyrics, sound angry or depressed. Put emphasis on certain words where relevant; if you're talking shocking words, sound shocked! This is one of the biggest things that will allow people to connect with you. By doing the above effectively, you'll already be a step ahead of the average beginner rapper. Whether or not you like him personally, Kanye West is a rapper that does this well. So have a listen around and see how the already established rappers do this.
1. Add Emotion To Your Delivery
The way you project your voice as a rapper is all important. It's one thing having good lyrics, but if you can't get your voice out there properly, they won't have the same effect. How to project your rap voiceThere are two different ways in which you can effectively project your voice. The first is in terms of volume. While you don't want to shout, you want your voice to be loud enough to get a fuller feeling. The last thing you want is to be rapping and people needing to move closer to hear what you're saying. Not only will this make for poor quality recording when it comes to you making a track, but your voice will also sound weak, which isn't something most listeners are fans of. The second thing you need to do when projecting your voice is include some bass in it. Most male rap voices sound better with some bass in it as it makes it sound fuller. It makes your voice sound less 'small'. It also makes for a better vocal recording when you go to the studio, so work on making your voice sound big and confident. For female rappers, while you won't want as much bass, you still want your voice to sound full. So make sure you're fully projecting your voice and not holding back (but not shouting). This will help you rap better.
2. Learn How To Project Your Voice
Now this is one that not all rappers think about, but it's a mistake. A lot of emphasis is often put on getting a good flow, but not as much is put on making sure you can switch up your style. You could have the best flow in the world, but if you sound the same on every track, you're not going to remain entertaining to people for the long term. A lot of your music will start sounding the same, and people will start to get bored of you. After all, if you're doing the same thing over and over again, why would people want to keep listening? If you find all of your lyrics are spat in the same way, start intentionally writing your lyrics to different speeds and tempos. Start putting less words into each line, or do the opposite and start putting more words in each line. You can also achieve different flows by writing different styles of lyrics, but we'll talk about that in a future guide. Ok, so on to the last two tips. This next one is especially important if you want to become a better rapper.
3. Don't Always Rap With The Same Flow
One thing I've found holds rappers back in terms of talent, is the kind of voice they put on. Rap is meant to be a natural thing; you use your voice to talk about what it is you're feeling. That said, there are some rappers who feel they need to put on a voice when they start out. It can take a while for rappers to find their voice and make it come out naturally, but it's important you find it and don't carry on putting that voice on. Not only does it often not sound that good, but it can also be damaging for your voice box. When you put on a deep and croaky voice for example, it can make your throat sore, and furthermore cause you long term damage. Being natural is often best, so work on getting comfortable in your own voice. You can make it an exaggerated and excited version of your voice if you feel, but don't feel you need to put on anything fake.
The last point I want to make is about who you are as a rapper. All of the above tips have been to do with your delivery and making your sound better, but this one is about the image you portray when making music. You need to determine how you want to be seen by your fans, as this will determine how you go about rapping, what lyrics you write about and the like. Do you want to be seen as a conscious rapper who tries to spread positive vibes? A gangster rapper who's working towards street cred? A commercial rapper who talks about the club scene or whatever trend is in at the time? Once you've decided this, you need to largely stick to that image. You need to base your lyrics around that image, as well as the things you do and words you say. It's hard enough making it as a big rapper, but if you start trying to make it in various different sub markets, you're just making it harder on yourself. So pick a style you want to aim for, and work towards consistently portraying that image. Conclusion So there you have it, 5 things you can do to make yourself a better rapper. Do you have any other suggestions? If so please leave a comment below.
Contains excerpts written by Shaun Letang
4. Let Your Lyrics Come Out Naturally