Have you ever attempted to write your next song only to be met by a crippling nemesis known as writers block? Of course you have! Anyone who is a creative has experienced these moments of utter frustration. So if you’re wrestling with the uncertainty of what you should rap about in your next song take a deep breath and relax as I attempt to alleviate your suffering with a little bit of perspective. Let’s get it!!
What Should You Rap About?
First Person Is Only One Perspective
The first trap a lot of rappers fall into is thinking all their songs have to be about them. But let’s be honest about something, most of our lives aren’t that exciting! We go to school, clock into work, hangout with friends, come home and play video games and fall asleep binge watching Netflix in our jammies. Who really want’s to hear about that right?
When you’re trying to figure out what you should rap about don’t allow yourself to get boxed in by thinking your next song has to be a lyrical diary entry about the mundaneness of your every day life. Try to think about something exciting that happened in your past. Perhaps a struggle that you overcame, a close call, an embarrassing moment or a bad break up. You can gather concepts and ideas by things that happened in your past or allow your imagination to paint visuals of how you envision your future!
First Person Narrative
But you don’t even have to write about yourself at all! Writing about yourself is called first person which causes you to use a narrative such as I, we, mine, my, us and ours. For example, “I was stuck in the cold in weather 30 below and in less than an hour I couldn’t feel my toes.” I like to think of writing in a first person narrative as the equivalent of taking a selfie which there’s nothing wrong with! But if you can’t think of anything interesting to rap about concerning yourself then maybe it’s time to turn the camera around so you can capture the interesting world that surrounds you.
The Second Person Narrative
Once you’ve re-positioned your writing lens off you it’s time to focus your viewfinder on the world around you. The second person narrative focuses on someone else and uses words such as you and yours. You can use this narrative when you want to address someone else. Maybe you want to tell your crush how you really feel, express your opinion about a rappers controversial interview or apologize to your mom for that stupid thing that you did. The second person narrative changes your perspective from focusing strictly on you and brings someone else into the picture.
While using the second person narrative you can still bounce back and forth to the first person narrative. For example “I never thought that you would stoop so low! I was helplessly stranded and you left me to die in the cold.”This example is bouncing between you and the person you’re speaking to directly.
The Third Person Narrative
The third person narrative is best described as if you was talking to someone about another person. This narrative isn’t directly talking to a person but is rather talking about a person. It uses words such as he, she, it, they, him hers them, it’s, their and theirs. You can actually bounce between the first, second and third person narrative at this stage. For example, “Bro, I was so heated and livid. She left me freezing so I made a drastic decision.”
Ideas Of Things You Can Rap About
Now that you’ve been freed from thinking you can only rap about yourself I’m just going to shoot out a bunch of random ideas you could possibly use for your next song.
- current events
- money or lack of money
- social justice
- battle raps (disses)
- paying homage to (your favorite rappers, teachers, public servents, soldiers, lost loved ones)
- your favorite thing to do
- stuff you hate
- stuff you love
- mistakes you’ve made
- make up a fictitious story
- what if I was (rich, famous, another race, another gender, popular)
- getting by, managing money, investing, being frugile
- someone you miss
- something you regret not doing or doing
- something that you wish would change (racism, sexism, classism, ageism, poverty, unaffordable health care, police brutality, unfair employment wages, cost of living)
- what do you think about the current state of (Hip-Hop, education system, prison system, social media, economy, entertainment, games, movies, comedians, actors/actresses etc..)
- your bucket list (things you want to do before you die)
- where do you see yourself (in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 30 years?)
- conspiracies, cover ups, false flags, corruption, misinformation
- media censorship
- political correctness
- paranormal, unexplained phenomena (ghosts, aliens, bigfoot, shadow people, miracles, weird coincidences)
- hacking, identity theft, security, the future of computing
- survival, primitive living skills, preparedness (what to do if all hell breaks loose?”)
- nature and beauty
- seasonal & special events (summer, winter, fall, spring, holidays, birthdays, graduation, anniversary)
After looking at this list the Negative Nancy within you may be saying “They’re not playing these type of songs on the radio so no one is going to like my music unless I’m rapping about girls, money, partying or thuggin”. FALSE! Here’s two big reality checks. 1 everyone doesn’t listen to the radio and 2 most of what you hear played on the radio is due to the radios stations being payed by the record companies. Woo! did I just say that?? Yup!!
The bottom line is you should make the music that you want to listen to not what you think everyone else wants to listen to. If you want your music to get noticed then you need to stand out not blend in and the best way to do that is to simply be yourself. There’s never been an artist that everyone loves.
Regardless of how popular 2pac, Biggie, Jay-Z and Eminem are everyone isn’t a fan of their music. So just accept that your music isn’t for everyone and remove that unneeded pressure of trying to make music that everyone will love because you will just be chasing a mirage.
Lack Of Inspiration
The struggle with writers block isn’t just about not knowing what to rap about but it could also be due to a lack of inspiration. Here’s some ideas that can rekindle your creative flame.
Change Your Work Flow
Making music the same way for long periods of time can make you feel like you’re working on an assembly line at a factory which can suck the life out of your creativity. Consider changing up your work flow by using new tools. Try to write your lyrics without any music while only using a metronome. If you always write lyrics on paper try writing them in Evernote or vice versa. Instead of jumping straight into writing lyrics perhaps start by brainstorming and creating a storyboard for your song.
Change Your Environment
Perhaps writing in your bedroom while staring at drywall for hours just aint cuttin it! Go to a coffee shop, book store, library or park and allow a not as familiar environment recharge your creative juices!
Consume Something That Motivates You
We all need motivation to push ourselves harder on a consistent basis or we will become stagnant and just overall lazy. Find something that motivates you such as a good Hip Hop Documentary, book, article. YouTube video or movie. Over the years I’ve found different sources of motivation that I keep before me which serves as a constant reminder to keep pressing forward and to never give up!
Collaborate With Someone
If you’ve been working in isolation for quite some time maybe it’s time to work live with another human being. It’s amazing the creative energy you can get when you collaborate with the right person. Consider reaching out to a fellow artist or producer to see if they would be interested in joining you for your next writing session.
Take A Break!
Taking breaks are just as important to being productive as work is. There is a such thing as getting burned out from working to hard for to long. I like to think of your creative juice like a cell phone battery. The more creative work you do the more you are going to deplete your battery so make sure you’re recharging regularly.
This could mean taking a break every hour to go outside and gaze at the scenery for a while. Or perhaps you don’t write anything for a week and instead focus on consuming content (books, documentaries, lectures and movies) that you can draw from once you start writing again.
As a creative person you are always outputting information and I can not stress enough how important it is that you regularly input information as well. This input could be learning more techniques on how to perfect your craft, reading up on current events, learning history, listening to new music or going out and experiencing new things in the world.
If you don’t do this you will inevitably run out of things to talk about. So the next time you’re trying to decide what to rap about just remember the wise words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Get To The Charga!!”
How Did I Do?
Did you find this article helpful? Have a question or comment? I’d love to hear from you so make sure you drop your 2 cents in the comments section below!