Rap / hip hop music is all the rage in the charts nowadays. The style has become so popular that many of the genre’s fans want to start rapping and writing their own rap songs. But, with the ever-increasing amount of information on the topic, a lot of people don’t know where to start.
It is worth noting that anyone can learn how to rap: by writing frequently, learning about rhymes, and practicing every day to improve your abilities and your way with words, you can become a good rapper in no time.
If you want to learn how to rap, follow this article. We bring a few tips for beginner rappers, some useful information for you as an artist, and how to structure an easy but effective practice routine.
Related: How to Rap Fast
Table of Content
- Write Everyday
- Plan Your Lyrics Before Writing Them
- Exercise Your Vocabulary
- Practice Freestyle
- Learn About Basic Rap Song Structure
- Learn How to Count Bars
- Work On Your Flow
- Record Yourself Rapping Frequently
- Find Your Voice
- Find Your Style
- Rap In Front of Other People
- Have a Routine
12 Steps to Start Rapping
1. Write Everyday
Rap/hip hop is all about putting your feelings out and making your lyrics dance to the beat. A-list rappers all practice their lyric-writing frequently. By doing so, you exercise your brain and enrich your vocabulary, as well as improve your way with words – key points if you want to rap professionally. We recommend that you start writing on a daily basis.
Golden Tip: There is a popular book on songwriting by Berklee College of Music professor Pat Pattison called Writing Better Lyrics where he suggests a few exercises and methods to help you with words.
One of these methods is called Object Writing, here is how it works:
- You pick an object (concrete or abstract) or feeling. It can be as simple as an apple, a table, or the sky, for example.
- You set a five to ten-minute timer and write everything you can about this object, without any concerns about rhymes, structure, or sense. Just write everything that comes to your mind.
Simple as that, you’re exercising your vocabulary and your rap songwriting. Do this daily for better results. This method works because it teaches us how to bypass the filter in our minds that are constantly judging what we’re putting out and focus on simply taking the ideas from our head and putting them into text. It is a bit like brainstorming.
With this method, you could even end up with an idea for a rap song that you can work with further. We recommend that you read Writing Better Lyrics in its entirety because this book is a gem when it comes to songwriting. You can find the book on Amazon.
2. Plan Your Lyrics Before Writing Them
Another great method to apply to your rap / hip hop songwriting process is planning your lyrics before writing them. This will avoid you feeling lost or running out of ideas once you reach the second verse/chorus of the song.
Simply write down on the top of your rap lyric’s page any feeling or emotion that you would like to convey with your work, be it simple or complicated; As well as a few keywords to guide you on the process.
You can also structure your song beforehand, if you would like to be more precise and less experimentative in this area. It helps a lot if you already have access to the beat that you will be rapping to.
3. Exercise Your Vocabulary
There is a popular story among a great part of the rap community that states that Eminem frequently reads the dictionary to have more words at his disposal. This is the perfect example of why the quality and size of your vocabulary could make or break your songs.
We recommend that you read a lot, not only lyrics but books and poetry too: these materials are always full of new words and ideas that you can incorporate into your next work.
It is also useful to have a Thesaurus or rhyming dictionary with you while you write. There are a lot of websites where you can input a word and see all the words that rhymes with it. One of the most popular is RhymeZone.
4. Practice Freestyle
Freestyle is the act of rapping to a beat without any pre-written lyrics or lines. This kind of practice could be a valuable addition to your fast-thinking skills and your flow since you will have to process a lot of information and create rhymes at an incredibly fast speed.
There is also the added benefit of getting used to not being afraid of writing down what’s in your mind. As we said before, our brains have a lot of filters that sometimes can prevent us from expressing our feelings. Freestyle can help you gain confidence over that.
Also keep in mind that the better your vocabulary is, the better you will be at making punchlines from the top of your head. Here is a great video about 5 simple steps on how to freestyle:
5. Learn About Basic Rap Song Structure
Learning about basic rap song structure is a must if you want to rap to a beat and make your songs sound professional. This area may seem a bit daunting at first but in reality, it is very simple.
On a rap song, the lyrics are usually divided into groups of four or five verses that fit together/rhymes, though this number can greatly vary. Zooming out, we get to the actual song structure itself, which is usually divided into intro, verse, chorus, and bridge.
There may be a few variations depending on the song such as tracks that feature a pre-chorus or post-chorus, outro, etc; And these different sections may repeat throughout the song. For example, one of the most common song structures in rap music is:
Intro – Verse – Chorus – Verse – Chorus – Bridge – Chorus
The intro is, as the name implies, where the song starts. It is usually an instrumental motif and/or an introduction to the theme/melody of the song. The verse is the storytelling section of the track, where the rapper tells a story and makes the subject that he/she is talking about clear.
The chorus is one of the most memorable sections of the song. It is where you want to get people singing along with you and create something that will linger on the listener’s mind. The bridge is where you can get more experimentative and switch things up a little bit with a different chord progression, melody, etc.
Don’t be afraid to be creative though. Try to break these rules a bit every once in a while. The most important thing when it comes to song structure is that you make your track cohesive and create tension and relief throughout your work.
Song sections are divided into bars of four beats each. Keep learning to learn how to count bars and how to find yourself within the song.
6. Learn How to Count Bars
The easiest and most important skill that a rapper must learn from day one is learning how to count bars. A bar is a measure that divides the rhythm of a song and gives it rhythmic cohesion.
The easiest way to understand this is to take a song you like and start counting each beat up to four. Use the kick drum for reference. When you get to four, you have a bar, which consists of four beats.
You need to learn how to count bars to find yourself in a song and know exactly where you are within the track, as well as match the rhythm of your words to the beat. For example, a verse may have 8 bars, and by knowing this you know what section is coming next.
7. Work On Your Flow
The rap flow is one of the most important things there is in rap music. It refers to how well a rapper matches the lyrics to the beat and how clear and concise he/she is on their musical performance, as well as their rapping speed.
Rap flow has all to do with rhythm. You need to have a great rhythmic sense to sound clear and natural to your audience/listeners. As much as a natural-born talent that it may seem like, it is actually a matter of practicing your abilities.
There are a few factors that will help us decide if a rapper flow is good or not, such as speed, breathing technique, pronunciation, clearness of words, etc.
Improving these skills is simple: you need to practice every day. Practicing specific techniques such as freestyle also helps. Make it a commitment to improving your technique and you should build confidence when rapping in no time.
Here is a video to help you improve your rap flow in as fast as 15 minutes:
Tip: Also check our How to Flow in Rap article to learn more techniques to improve your skills.
8. Record Yourself Rapping Frequently
One of the most frequent mistakes among beginner rappers is taking too long to start recording yourself. Make it a commitment to register your performances from day one. Don’t stress too much about how you sound, just get comfortable with it.
This practice has a lot of benefits. First, it may help you check how much you’ve progressed in the future by listening to your old recordings. Second, sooner or later you will want to produce your own song and will need to be comfortable with rapping into a microphone before stepping into a studio or even recording in your bedroom.
You probably already own the gear you will need to start with: your smartphone’s recorder. Don’t worry too much about the recording quality if you’re not planning to release these as songs just yet. In the future, you can invest in a quality microphone. Head over to our Best Microphone for Vocals Under 100 article if you’re looking for an affordable first option.
9. Find Your Voice
Throughout learning how to rap, we may dive a little too deep into techniques and rules. But about more than a half of your abilities as a rapper lies within finding your voice and the way you wanna sound to the world.
Good rappers may have technique, but great rappers have technique and identity. When it comes to your own voice, it is not about who you want to become but who you are. Don’t be afraid to put emotion and the little details that make your own trademark into your songs.
When it comes to finding your voice, there is no better practice but to rap and rap more, as well as improve areas such as your flow and your songwriting to build confidence in yourself and in your music.
10. Find Your Style
Side to side with finding your voice is finding your rap style. Just as your voice, it is what people think about as soon as they see your song on their Spotify playlist; As well as those little details that will make the listeners know that it is your song they’re listening to when they hear it on the radio.
Finding your style may not only help you with creating an identity but also with finding your way through all the processes of improvement in your career. The key thing here is to listen to a lot of different artists and rappers that you like and take inspiration from all of them to build your own thing.
Take it with a grain of salt, however. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and incorporate new tastes and genres into your style whenever you like. We’re always growing and experimenting as artists.
11. Rap In Front of Other People
Putting your face out there and rapping in front of people may be daunting in the beginning. But we recommend that you do this as soon as possible to build confidence and get you feeling comfortable in live situations.
It doesn’t have to be anything complex, to begin with: try rapping a few lines to your friends and you will get the added benefit of knowing how well your lyrics are working in front of an audience.
Once you feel confident enough, get in touch with your local rap community and learn about freestyle events. These can be great to both watch and perform, plus, you could make a name for yourself.
12. Have a Routine
Last but not least, have a proper routine of practicing your rap abilities, as well as writing and recording your own songs. Beginning with simple steps such as taking 5 minutes to write or writing a punchline every day can have a great impact on your career as a rapper.
Also, consider applying the previously mentioned Object Writing method from Pat Pattison in your routine of exercises and make it a habit to do some practices that may indirectly lead you to be a better rapper such as reading more books and watching out for your posture and breathing throughout the day.
Bonus Tip: How to Find Beats for Rapping
You need to learn how to rap to a beat if you want to improve your rhyming speed and your word flow. If you search for type beats on YouTube (for example Eminem type beats), you will find a lot of free options for practicing. You can also lookup instrumentals on websites like BeatStars and AirBit.
Can I Teach Myself How to Rap or Do I Need a Tutor?
Nowadays, with the vast amount of information, there is on the internet, you can totally teach yourself how to rap. It is all about consistency. With that being said, there are a few courses on websites such as Udemy that may help you get a better grip on your rapping skills.
Check out our Best Online Rap Classes to see the better options and what to look for on a rap course.
How Can a Beginner Rapper Improve His/Her Technique?
A beginner rapper needs to commit to rap every day as soon as possible and to write frequently to improve his/her rapping technique. Some of the most recommended daily practices for rappers are:
1. Practice freestyle.
2. Write every day.
3. Work on your flow.
4. Pay attention to how you breath and to your posture throughout the day.
5. Work on your vocabulary – learn new words every day.
6. Be creative and feel free to experiment: rapping is an art, after all.
What Kinds of Rap Should a Beginner Start With?
There are no specific recommendations on what kinds of rap are better to start rapping, though beginner rappers should try to rap to slower and simpler rap songs in the start and progress from there.
What Gear Do I Need To Record Myself?
If you’re just looking to store your training sessions to check your progress later, your phone recorder will do. However, if you want to record your own songs professionally, you should invest in some quality equipment such as an audio interface and a microphone. Check out our Best Audio Interface and Best Microphone for Vocals Under 100, as well as our How to Record Rap Vocals articles for more information on the subject.
These were some of our tips on how to rap and what are the first steps to take if you want to start rapping. To write this article, we’ve considered some of the most frequent doubts and worries that beginner rappers may have, as well as what areas you must work on improving from day one.
If you’re learning how to rap, keep in mind that you should have consistency and a practicing routine in order to achieve better results. Make it a commitment for yourself to rap and write every day.We hope that we helped you in the process of learning how to rap and improving your rapping skills. Please make sure to check our other articles on rapping for even more information and don’t hesitate to write to us if you have any further questions!