Being a skilled rapper isn’t just about riding the beat it’s much more than that. Rapping is simply the vehicle we use to deliver our message to our audience. However there are many literary devices rappers wield such as rhyme schemes and punchlines which make a huge impact on the listener. And moving the audience emotionally and making a strong impact and lasting impression is really the goal of any artist right? So lets take a quick look at how you can create rap punchlines to hit HARD!!
What Are Rap Punchlines?
Rap Punchlines just like any other punchlines is the culminating part of a joke, story, or thought that gives it its humorous or dramatic point of impact.
What Makes Rap Punchlines Have Heavy Impact?
There’s actually several literary devices that can make rap punchlines work really well to ensure it has the maximum impact on the listeners. Let’s explore some of these devices and then follow up with some examples of them in use.
Puns: a play on words in which a humorous effect is produced by using a word that suggests two or more meanings.
“But then again you’ll finally get your wish, cuz you’ll be all over the street like 50 Cent” – Eminem, “Nail In the Coffin” (More on this punchline below)
Metaphors: a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
“These cats drink champagne and toast to death and pain. Like slaves on a ship talking about who got the flyest chain” – Talib Kweli, “Africa Dream”
Irony: a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.
“As far as that album you dropped, I ain’t feelin it, I wouldn’t buy your record if it had a hundred dollar bill in it” – Chino XL, “Creep”
Similes: the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid.
“My Rap career goes back further than your fathers hairline” – Ludacris, “Coming To America”
There’s two main methods rap punchlines are delivered; Buildups and One Liners. Let’s take a brief look at both of these.
Good rap punchlines often times has a buildup. By this I mean that there are several lines before the punchline that are laying the ground work so that when the punchline hits the listener it connects with the lines before it which gives it extra weight for heavy impact. There’s no rule on how long a buildup has to be. It could range from one bar to as long as fifteen bars before the punchline hits.
Often times people recognize this as being a witty or an intelligent writer. In fact many define a genius as someone who can predict the outcome of something before it happens. With that being said I like to think of The Buildup as the lyrical genius within us at work. As we carefully craft our lyrics with the expectation of leaving our listeners in aw.
I would never claim to be no Ray Benzino
an 83 year old fake Pachino
So how can he hold me over some balcony
without throwin his lower back out as soon as he goes to lift me
Please don’t, you’ll probably fall with me
and our as**s will both be history
But then again you’ll finally get your wish
cuz you’ll be all over the street like 50 Cent
What’s genius about these lyrics is how Eminem is setting up his punchline way ahead of time. Notice how he’s making fun of and exaggerating Benzino’s age while questioning his threat on how he could physically hold him over a balcony without throwing is lower back out. Which leads to the punchline “But then again you’ll finally get your wish cuz you’ll be all over the street like 50 cent“.
This punchline also has a double meaning. This technique is a literary device known as a Pun, Double Entendre or Figure of Speech. Which basically means the phrase has two different meanings or interpretations.
The obvious meaning is that Benzino will be splattered all over the pavement from such a huge fall. But what makes this line really hit hard is it’s alternate meaning.
The alternate meaning is that 50 cent was at the peak of his career at this time and “being all in the streets or all over the streets” is a slang term that means someone is popular.
“As far as that album you dropped, I ain’t feelin it
I wouldn’t buy your record if it had a hundred dollar bill in it“
This particular punchline from Chino XL uses a much shorter setup as he is known for rapidly delivering punchlines as frequent as every other bar. One bar for a quick buildup followed by a second bar to deliver the punchline. This punchline uses a funny literary device known as Irony because who wouldn’t buy an album for twelve bucks that had a one hundred dollar bill in it right? lol!
One liners are another common form of a punchline that is often used. One Liners don’t use a Buildup at all. However these still make a big impact on the listener and are highly effective in giving your lyrics the wow factor when executed properly. Let’s look at some examples.
Field Mob – “Where R U Going?”
“low-key like a midget locksmith”
Eminem – “313”
“You couldn’t make the fans throw up there hands if they swallowed their fingers”
Eminem – “313”
“Even if you dated a stick of dynamite, you still couldn’t go out with a bang”
Ludacris – “Coming To America”
“My Rap career goes back further than your fathers hairline”
These examples are pretty straight forward. In the Field Mob example they’re using two literary devices, Similes and Puns. Since similes are comparing one thing to another “Like a” and puns with the use of “low-key” and “midget locksmith” The Eminem examples are using puns and the Ludacris example is using a Pun as well as a Simile.
Stockpile Your Arsenal
Now that you have a deeper understanding of what rap punchlines are along with common literary devices that are used to create them it’s time to start creating some for your self don’t ya think? Don’t wait until you’re working on your next song to start formulating your punchlines that hit harder than Mike Tyson. Go ahead and start building a list of punchlines that you can pull from when you’re writing your lyrics later.
Not only will this give you some good practice but it can also improve your workflow. Nothing kills your creative vibe more while writing lyrics than getting stuck on lines for long periods of time. So go ahead and build your arsenal by putting the creative genius within you to work!
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 comments section below!
That was so worth sharing man. That helps alot. i have a whole notebook just for punchlines. i write one as soon as i think of it. Thanks for the tips. Peace and love
Thanks for the positive feedback Badmic! I’m really glad you enjoyed it and I’m glad to hear that you’re already stockpiling your punchline arsenal! Keep up the hard work and I’ll do the same! 🙂 Much love and respect!
Well honestly y’all better watch out for my real G In the Future,am not gonna spoil the surprise like 2 years pass from box milks expiry date… Peace and love and Respect…
That’s what’s up Tobi! Thanks for checking out my article and am wishing you and your friend the best on your musical journey! Much respect! 🙂 – Cole Mize
Thanks Latasha! I’m glad that you enjoyed my article and thanks so much for the positive feedback! Have an awesome weekend! 🙂
Are you a record poducer? I need one. I write raps songs and freestyle on trap beats really good.
Hey Joshua, yes I’m a record producer. If you’re interested in working with me check out my 1 on 1 coaching service I offer at http://colemizestudios.com/coaching
– Cole Mize
I got beef with cows like the shepherd and his pie your examples moved round my ears like a snake that’s sly
I see what you did there Jesse 🙂 Glad you enjoying my article! lol
Anytime I love what you’re doing for rappers with your holistic all bases covered approach. I’d love to thrust my hand out to shake yours
Thanks so much for your kind words Jesse. I’m glad you have been enjoying my content and finding it to be helpful. That’s what it’s all about right there! And thanks so much for your digital handshake! 🙂
Very good cole man very helpful and easy to understand good work budd
Thanks Marty, I’m glad you found this article helpful and thanks for the positive feedback! 🙂 – Cole Mize
Thanks again. Great break down and easy to follow.
Thanks for your time, much appreciate it.
My pleasure Tony! I’m really glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the positive feedback! 🙂 -Cole Mize
It’s funny, when I submit my work to my english professor she always mentions these literary devices that I use. I don’t even know if I use them or not, I just write like it’s a puzzle. She says she likes the double entendre, etc. and I’m like I don’t know, thank you.
That’s cool Tony. Yeah we’ve grown up around all these literary devices growing up. We’ve heard them in conversations, music, film etc.. But it’s neat once you learn the techniques behind them and what they’re called and next thing you know you start seeming them everywhere! It’s kind of like someone bringing a new car to your attention and you’re like, I’ve never seen it before but now that you’re aware you start seeing it all the time and in reality you’ve been seeing it all along but just wasn’t aware of it lol 🙂 – Cole Mize
My english professor also said I should try to publish my work after she read my alphabet poem/rap, which is influenced by Blackalicious song Alphabet Aerobics. I put what I think about humanity in a alphabet format but staying true to use every word with the letter in a line, unlike blackalicious.
That’s awesome Tony! I’m glad to hear that you’re getting positive feedback from your professor and that she is encouraging you to share it with the world! Sometimes all it takes is encouragement from one person to spark that flame to get that fire really burning. Keep up the great work! 🙂 – Cole Mize
a tooonnnn this was dome rn!!
I’m Overloading my knowledge you overloaded with problems, Im fat but all where it counts, you fat like endorsing mcdonalds, and everything that I mention is not there to gain any attention, its to show you before I do it i’ll kill your crew and progression, I’m small with a big heart and even bigger dimensions, I’ll go hard on this shit all day and forget I had and erection!!!
For a walk ass crew….
Hey Drew, I’m glad that you found this article helpful! That’s what it’s all about right there! Keep up the hard work and I’ll be doing the same! 🙂 – Cole Mize
Thank you this was very helpful I love reading all these posts they give me the motivation to pic back up the mic and grind out.
Hey Sam, I’m glad that you are enjoying my content and are finding them to be helpful! That’s what it’s all about! 🙂
thanks mahn really helpfull … soon u gonna see mah PUNCHES passing through the same LINE..much lahv broo..
My pleasure bro! I’m really glad that you found this article helpful! Now go knock em out with them punchlines! 🙂 – Cole Mize
Insightful. Thanks for sharing
My pleasure Kurai I’m glad you enjoyed the article! 🙂 – Cole Mize
Very useful information.
I would like to mention K-Rino’s Flow Sessions have so many punchlines too, One bar setups.. One liners and combination of Similes+Puns+Ironies. Delightful treat for punchline lovers.
Thanks for the input Veer I’ll be sure to dig into his lyrics. Good looking out! 🙂 – Cole Mize
This is very good article.
Some of the punchline are so deep sometimes, I could not understand.
I guess this definitely helps me a lot.
Awesome Andy! I’m really glad to hear that my article helped you out! Keep up the hard work bro! 🙂 – Cole Mize
i love your stuff do more please
Thanks, Jaden! I’ve got a lot more awesome content coming your way! 🙂 – Cole Mize
Its worth the praises
like a gospel song, its good n blazing
Though I’m not into it yet, but I’m sure n ready
I’ll keep trying till it sticks like wood gum already
Sick of wack lazy lines
Grow up the power to punch and grind
Let the instruments rewind
Till I bind up my mind
If I was on a ride
I’ll Stay on the side
And I’ll Break a back line
For this rap life
I just want to say that I’m grateful and this as made a lot of things in rap to become easy for me, thanks bro…have a good life
Thanks for your kind words Dre! I’m really glad that you are finding my content to be helpful! Keep up the good work and I’ll be sure to do the same! 🙂 – Cole Mize
thanks for the tips bro, what do u think of these punchlines?
Im a vegan not an athlete, I do not go to track meets, don’t eat meat, so I hate to meet people cuz they too protean
HI i just want to know how much do you charge to wrote music?
I was feeling not confident and this helped me so thanks. I feel a detachment between what I write and what I would like to listen to. So I think that’s also an issue, find “your style”, something that I feel is me.
Trust me you dont wanna see this heat spark/ leave your brains on the concrete now you really street smart….
This was helpful man!
Thanks a whole lot
I got new flow’ is looking like adaption,
Before you challenge me you better take some option, cause am always on the fast lane, no slow motion.
Thanks man, this really helped me out. Imma thank you later.
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