Does this sound familiar?
You write some awesome lyrics without an instrumental and then when you try to rap those lyrics over an instrumental it sounds like complete trash!
Well if so, the good news is that you’re not alone. This is something that many rappers struggle with and in today’s video lesson I’m going to be showing you the 3 techniques that I use to make any lyrics sound incredible over any instrumental.
So without further ado…. LET’S GET IT!!!
TIP 1 – Place Your Rhyme
Scat up until around the 4th beat and place the rhyme there.
It’s important to keep track of where your rhymes are placed so that you can place all of your rhymes in the same place from one bar to another. This causes your rhyme scheme to sound really tight and intentional to the listener.
It’s common for rappers to place their rhyme on the 4th beat and to say it with a little more energy because there is usually a snare there. This causes your Rhyme to almost have a 3D effect as if it’s popping further out to the listener than the rest of the words around it.
With all of that being said, you can place your rhymes anywhere within a bar, just try to maintain the same position for your rhyme scheme for the other bars as well if you wish for your rhyme scheme to sound tight and structured.
TIP 2 – Fill In The Scat
Now continue to scat up to your rhyme and start filling the rest of the bars scat with your lyrics.
You will begin to sense if you have too many words or not enough words to match your scat.
If you feel you have too many words, try to begin your bar earlier by leading into the first beat. If you don’t have enough words, try adding a pause at the beginning of the bar and lead into the 2nd or 3rd beat.
Also at this time, It’s perfectly fine to change the cadence you’re using while scatting if you feel another one will work better with your lyrics.
LYRICS – Cadence Tweaked
TIP 3 – Compromising
After auditioning different cadences it’s still totally normal for your lyrics and cadences not to work perfectly together. When this happens you will need to make a compromise to your lyrics.
I typically like to use different cadences as I demonstrated in TIP 2 first because I try my best to preserve my lyrics as much as possible.
If you need to change your lyrics, try to do so in a way that doesn’t change the meaning of what you’re saying.
First, try to identify the area of your bar that’s problematic and either remove or add words to make your lyrics and scat work better together.
Don’t get discouraged if you struggle to make your lyrics sound good at first. This is the Engineering aka problem-solving part of being a rapper. Depending on how complex your rhyme schemes and cadences are it’s not unheard of to spend 10- 30 minutes perfecting 4 bars such as these.
All the lyrics highlighted in red I removed and the green highlighted lyrics I added.
LYRICS – Compromised Lyrics
BONUS TIP – Shaving
If you need to create more space but don’t want to remove a word. See if there’s a word that you shave off a little bit off of. Such as, instead of saying “Breaking” say “Breakin”. Or instead of saying “The” say “Tha”.
Remember syllables aren’t an accurate form of measurement because each syllable will be a different length which is determined by how long you must hold it in order for it to be enunciated correctly.
For example, the one-syllable word “Strike” is longer than the one-syllable word “no”.
So if you need to create a little more space, see if there are any words you could shave a little bit off of. In this example, on the last bar, the word “these” was a bit of a tongue twister due to the “ess” sound coming right behind harness so I changed it to “tha” and it made it much easier to say.
LYRICS – Shaved Lyrics
Now let’s take a look at the lyrics before and after I edited them. Again everything in red is what I removed and everything in green is what I added.
(cut to before and after recordings as well to compare)
Take notice of how many words I was able to remove without changing the meaning of what I was saying.
Also, pay attention to how the placement of my words changed for each bar as I dialed in the cadence and lyrics to compliment each other while preserving the placement of my end rhyme scheme that began with “Carnage”.
I’ve structured my lyrics so that each line represents each bar in the instrumental. So for example the first syllable of each line is what lands on the 1st beat of each bar.
Structuring your lyrics like this while you’re editing them to fit the instrumental better can be very helpful so that you have a visual of how everything is landing within each beat which removes a lot of the mystery of why your lyrics sound the way they do and make the editing process easier.
If you still find it a bit confusing to remember which of your syllables land on each beat of each bar, I created a really helpful tool called Bar Sheets which looks like this. You can learn more about how to use these in this dedicated video tutorial and you can get your very own copy of these bar sheets for free via this link.