How To Write A Rap Song

how_to_write_a_rap_song

It’s one thing to know how to rap but knowing how to write a rap song is a completely different ballgame. In this article I will break down the key fundamentals to aid you during your future song writing journeys. These techniques will help you approach songwriting with a more methodical and foccused approach and will help you build your songs with finesse.

Cinematic

I like to think of a song like a movie. Movies are stories, experiences & journeys that captivate you. They give you experiences that you otherwise would have never had. They can make you feel scared, anxious, curious, adventurous, enlightened and inspired. They can effect you so much emotionally that they can make you cry, laugh so hard you nearly pee yourself and have you so excited and tense to where you’re on the edge of your seat. These are the side effects of skilled writing.

Plethora Of Variations

There are many different types of rap songs which serve different purposes. They range from story telling, poetic, social awareness, political, activism, self awareness, conspiracy, paranormal, spiritual, religious, educational, inspirational, club, dance and party, violence, self centered and boastful, comedic, parodies, battle/diss tracks, freestyles, cyphers, memorials and current events.

As you can see there is a plethora of different types of rap songs just as there are different types of movies. And the style and format that you write a song will be greatly influenced by the type of song that you’re writing.

A Different Approach

When we think of the concept of how to write a rap song most of us tend to only think about writing lyrics which I consider to be the 3rd and final stage of the song writing process. But before you move on to lyrics try using these 2 steps first.

An Introduction To Storyboards

Storyboards are used by people who make movies and interactive media. It’s basically just a series of still frame pictures they draw up that helps them visually organize their strategy and concept of telling their story. This often times includes camera angles, direction for people to walk during the shot, different scenes to cut to, wardrobe etc..storyboard

I recommend applying the storyboard concept to the second stage of your song writing process. Now you don’t have to draw still frame pictures or anything like that unless you want to. In this application i’m just recommending using the concept of storyboards. I consider this conceptual writing and it will allow you to write your song in a more well thought out way. This is how it works.

A Storm Is Coming!

Let’s say I’m moved to write a song about a friend that passed away. I would first start by organizing my thoughts by writing my concepts down of what I would like the song to be about and what overall message I would like to convey. This is called brainstorming and is stage 1 of the song writing process. It would look a little something like this.

Life is to short, cherish the time with others that you have, you never know the last time you will get to see a person, make time for those you care about, don’t allow unresolved matters to linger with people you care about, tell and more importantly show others you appreciate them, make the most out of life.

Painting With Words

Now that I’ve got my thoughts down I will then cherry pick through what I want to use for this song. Keep in mind that you don’t have to literally say Dr_Dre_picture_of_wordswhat you want to convey to the listener. The art of painting pictures through lyrics is to present and describe something in such a way where the listener realizes the points you are wanting to make without you having to say it specifically. For example instead of you saying it was a beautiful day you describe your day in such a way where the listener thinks “that sounds like a beautiful day”.

So for this song I’ve decided to try and convey the following: Life is to short, cherish the time with others that you have, you never know the last time you will get to see a person, make time for those you care about, make the most out of life.

After The Storm

Now that my brainstorming is done I’m ready to move on to stage 2 and start creating my storyboard which will layout the basic format of how I want to present my story for my song. It’s important to pick out which song structure you would like to use at this point. For this example i’ll be using a standard song structure.

  • Intro: Receive a voicemail from my friend inviting me to a strip club for his birthday
  • Verse 1: Me responding back wishing him a happy birthday and explaining why I’ve chosen to take a pass on the invite since I’m a married man
  • Hook 1: I’m sorry I couldn’t make it but I hope we can hangout soon
  • Verse 2: Me talking to my friend about how 1 year has passed, the time has flew by, life is busy and congratulating him on recently getting married, briefly speaking on their wedding “so that the part in the hook that says sorry I couldn’t make it still connects with the verse” and having a kid on the way. Verse ends with me asking my friend to let me know when he is free so we can hangout and catch up.
  • Hook 2: I’m sorry I couldn’t make it but I hope we can hangout soon
  • Verse 3: I start speaking to my friend in the past tense about all the good times we had, telling him how much I appreciated him always keeping it real throughout the years, and how I’m proud of the man that he became. Towards the end of the verse I express how hurt I was when I found out he died in a car accident and how much I regret we never got to hang out one last time. “which connects with hook”
  • Hook 3 I’m sorry I couldn’t make it but I hope we can hangout soon “Now hangout soon has new meaning as it’s referring to hoping to see him in the after life.
  • Outro: As the music fades out sound fx of birds flying away enters symbolizing life moving forward, not being weighed down by the gravity of the tragedy, and being free and weightless.

Drawing & Painting

All that is left for me to do now is stage 3 which is writing lyrics that will paint a vivid picture of the storyboard that I’ve created. So to quickly recap the three stages of the song writing process are as follows

  1. Brainstorming ideas of what you want to say
  2. Storyboard & picking the song format
  3. writing lyrics that paint the pictures of your storyboard to the song format you chose.

How Did I Do?

I hope that you found this article helpful and that these techniques serve you greatly during your song writing process. If you have any questions or comments I’d love to hear from you so make sure you drop your 2 cents in the comments section below.

Comments

  1. says

    Yesssss !!! Thank you for this article

    Just made my weekend a lot easier

    Thanks for giving me a new root

    And brainstorming ideas so glad to

    Have you as a guide sending our

    condolences to you and your friends family sir hope all is well as can be

    Your a legend Mr Mize

    • says

      Hey Darren, I’m so glad to see that you read and enjoyed this article! I hope it serves you and many others well. Thanks for your condolences I really do appreciate it! And thank you for all the love and support bro it really means a lot! I hope you have a great weekend! Take care bro! :)

    • Wade Langston says

      I like this article a lot, it’s very helpful and educational. I dream of becoming a rapper but most dreams aren’t real so I gotta make it happen and quit dreaming.

      • says

        Hey Wade, it’s great to hear back from you! I’m really glad that you enjoyed this article! I love how you put that “most dreams aren’t real so I gotta make it happen”. Aint nothin to it but to do it!! :) Wishing you the best in all your endeavors and if you ever have any questions along the way always feel free to reach out to me. Much love and respect!

  2. Bobmanuel Jason says

    I really appreciate the pointers man..you just made the whole process a lot easier. Cheers Bro! I pray God make you bigger…

    • says

      My pleasure Bob, i’m glad that you found this article helpful and I hope the techniques discussed in this article serve you greatly! Thanks for your support and i’m wishing you and your family the best as well! :)

  3. Ree says

    Sincerely speaking, I have gotten a rap mentor.
    You have given me reasons to see rap on a different light, rap isn’t hard.
    I am going to be a dope female rapper and I will give you the credit.
    Sir, please can we connect on a personal note.
    Thanks.

    Best Regards,
    Ree.

    • says

      Hey Ree,

      I’m so happy to hear that you have been finding my content as helpful as you have. That’s what it’s all about! And I love your attitude! Keep that up! Yes we can connect, feel free to check out my CONNECT and contact me preferably through e-mail. See you on the other side :)

  4. says

    Wow, I’ve always done my writing sorta, like this but I’m a visual learner, and seeing you draw the blueprint on how to write a rap song truly taught me more than I already knew. This article is perfect and I commend you for making it sir!

    • says

      Hey Chris, thanks so much for reading and commenting! I am really happy to hear that you found this article helpful! And thanks for taking the time to let me know I’m doing a good job! Keep up the great work!

  5. Nate says

    Fantastic article! For years I’ve been searching for a resource that will take the mystery out of rapping so that I can enjoy it recreationally, much like people paint or sculpt for fun or as a way to relieve stress. I’ve always been able to feel the mechanics at work but never been able to unravel them in a way that will allow me to write consistently well-structured songs. A few years ago I remade a popular song by copying the cadence and replacing the lyrics and my friends all said that I should try writing my own songs. I’ve wanted to but just couldn’t figure it out until I found your site and YouTube channel.

    Here’s the link to the remake I made but I’m looking forward to writing my own music now! https://youtu.be/0qFLfYsdkMs

    You have done an excellent job of explaining both basic and advanced concepts that will surely help novices like myself as well as those that are more experienced and may be looking to build a career out of this art form. Thanks Cole!

    • says

      Nate the great what’s up man? I’m so glad that you found my channel and website. As someone who tortures them self over delivering high quality educational and entertaining content nothing rewards me greater than to hear that people are learning and growing from it. As a teacher I long for my viewers to experience those epiphany moments where the lights cut on and they say awwww I get it now!! So thanks so much for sharing how my content has been helping you out! That’s what it’s all about!

      And I checked out your video and it had me rolling laughing! Very fun light hearted song. You could always keep the song and use a non commercial beat behind it. I think it has a lot of potential and could reach a really niche market with golfers and such. Keep up the great work Nate and thanks again for your glowing review of my work. Take care and I’ll talk with you soon!

  6. triston says

    You are not only a great writer but you are a great teacher. The use of colours to organize and emphasize various sections and words such as “picture through lyrics, brainstorming etc” shows that you know what you are doing. In addition, the words you use to grab our attention “there is a storm coming!” great idea especially when you followed up on it. I loved the fact that you gave an example of a storyboard from the beginning to the end, it really gave me a better understanding. Overall it is a great article and i learnt something new; the story board idea is new to me and i like it. Thanks for sharing this technique!

    • says

      Hey Triston, I think it’s awesome that you’re picking up on a lot of the subtle things I do. Being and artist carries over into everything in life so teaching is no exception lol I’m really glad you read this article as I think it’s going to help many people look at writing songs in a more well thought out and visionary way. Thanks for reading and commenting and showing so much love and support! I greatly appreciate Triston and i’m looking forward to sharing much more knowledge with you in the future! Thanks for learning! :)

  7. says

    Thanks man I’m a beginning rapper who’s friends all rapping started groups at school. I can rap but cant write or freestyle and I’ve looked everywhere looking for answers and your’s looks like one of the first that I understand. I’ve seen your YouTube vids so thanks! ^_^

    • says

      Hey Tim, I’m glad that you stumbled upon my channel and have since found my content to be helpful! That’s awesome! Thanks for letting me know you’ve been enjoying my content! Keep up the hard work!

  8. says

    and since You’re beast I wanted to know if i can send you my first song when I make one to look it over and possibly “moderate” it if you have time. You’re one of my idols with Eminem. He speaks the truth and it get’s me you know man?

    • says

      Sure thing Tim, I actually offer a very affordable music review service right here on my website that many rappers have been taking full advantage up and it’s been helping them out tremendously! So whenever you’re ready I’ll be more than happy to share my thoughts and advice on improving your rap skills. If you have any questions let me know and thanks so much for all the love and support! I’m grateful to have awesome fans such as your self! Keep up the hard work and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

    • says

      My pleasure! That’s what it’s all about! :) I’m glad you checked out this article and that you found it helpful. Thanks for taking the time to give me some positive feedback! Keep up the hard work sis! I’m rooting for you!!! :)

  9. says

    You don’t know how happy I was to find your website. At first I tried to find how to send you a website, but then I couldn’t find it, so here’s a comment. Help me. Haha, I’m struggling. I’ve put so much of my time into trying to develop this skill. Literally 2-8 hours every day for the past 3 months. I am not a naturally very rhythmical person. But I an a very abstract learner. While I have taken huge leaps, I just feel there is some huge intrinsic part of delivery that my mind can’t grasp. I would love to send you some of my attempts and have you tell me what is going wrong and give me suggestions, coach me, whatever, anything! I would be more than happy to fairly compensate you for your time. You’d find me a promising student. My greatest skill is my writing ability. I’ll just say it boldly, I’m good. But my delivery and my understanding of how to structure my syllable patterns to generate an organic, consistent yet fluxuating rhythm is…well…not good. I hope to hear to from you.

    • says

      Hey Reed, thanks so much for your comment. I just sent you an e-mail and removed your address from your comment to prevent any type of spam bots crawling the net from getting it. Just respond to my e-mail and we can continue the conversation there. I look forward to hearing from you soon :)

    • says

      Hey Rajnish, I’m glad that you was able to find your answer within this article! That’s what it’s all about! Thanks for reading and commenting back to let me know it was helpful. Keep up the hard work!! :)

    • says

      Sure you can create whatever song structure you wish! There are no rules! However if you’re rapping over a beat already made you will need to follow the song structure they’ve already laid out for you or chop up and rearrange the song accordingly. :)

    • says

      My pleasure Hemant! I’m glad that you enjoyed it and found it to be helpful! Thanks for the awesome feedback as well! I sincerely appreciate it! :)

  10. BlackFish says

    Thanks for writing this. I have definitely been jumping write into Step 3 with no planning. Just cool sounding free verses.

    • says

      Hey BlackFish I’m glad that you found this article helpful! And there’s nothing wrong with writing free verses as well. Always remember there’s no rules to rapping there’s only techniques. So just add this technique to your toolkit and use it as you see fit. :) – Cole Mize

  11. says

    This is also good to use when you want to convert your poems into raps. I’ve also done this with a short story I did, then turned it into a poem, now I have to turn it into a rap.

    Thanks cole, open up a school already.

    • says

      Thanks for the positive feedback Tony. Absolutely this can apply to poems of even shooting a music video or writing a short film. I’m glad you enjoyed this article and I’m working on the school thing! :) – Cole Mize

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