How To Improve Rap Flow: Establishing Rhythm

How Does The Beat Fit?

In this installment of Be A Better Rapper Now I discuss how to improve rap flow by establishing rhythm, I refer to this as “trying on the beat”. I like to call it trying on the beat because I think of it as trying on clothes.  Every beat fits you differently just as every piece of clothing does. If you are wearing skinny jeans so tight that people know how many quarters you have in your pocket it may determine what activities you partake in that day in comparison to you wearing sweat pants ya feel me? So you will need to adapt to each beat based on how much room (time/tempo) and the fabric (feel & emotion) of the song in order to keep your style fresh and interesting. You need to find something that fits you well and that you’re comfortable flowing to that complements your style. Basically when you are trying on the beat or establishing your rhythm you’re trying to see how it fits and how well you can move around in to rap: establishing rhythm

Don’t Be Predictable

When learning how to rap establishing rhythm is so important because it’s going to give you direction throughout your whole writing process allowing you to have a clear vision on what it is that you are trying to accomplish. When creating rhythms you want to create as many of them as possible so you can switch it up throughout your verses to keep it interesting to the ear. The more repetitive your rhythm is the more predictable it is to predict and can consequently cause your verses to be less interesting.  So switch up your rhythm as often as possible and of course it’s totally dependent on what you feel is right for the song.

How Many Beats Are In A Bar?

When you are creating variations in your rhythm you also want to work on creating variations in your tone and volume of your voice. This will give your performance more feeling, emotion and attitude. While you are coming up with all these variations you may be afraid that you might forget them. If so simply record them on your mobile device or whatever is most convenient for you to reference to later. When you are establishing your rhythm you should be finding the quarter notes on each bar. Remember the kick usually falls on the 1st and 3rd beat of a bar and the snare usually falls on the 2nd and 4th beat of each bar. Use these as anchor points to guide you as you’re creating your rhythms. You don’t have to necessarily be speaking on top of each kick or snare but you should be in time with them. Remember 4 quarters  make 1 dollar so 4 quarter notes makes 1 bar. Please don’t loose sight of what you are setting out to do. You are a drum kit and your words are mimicking the percussive elements of the beat. Every single syllable represents a hit on the drum kit. So be that drum kit and beat the breaks of it!

Spittin Gibberish  

When you are establishing your rhythm you don’t even have to be saying real words. I often just mumble some gibberish to begin establishing my rhythm and flow as I see what feels comfortable to me for the track I’m working on. This is just laying down the foundation before you start writing. This doesn’t have to sound cool, perfect and polished. At this stage you are simply experimenting with the beat. I hope this gives you a little more insight on how to rap. Please leave a comment below on your thoughts. I would love to hear your perspective on this topic as well. If you haven’t already make sure you watch the video at the top of this page so you can have a better idea of how I am putting these techniques into practice. If you would like to stay updated on when new articles are posted & receive a free copy of my e-book entitled “The #1 Fundamental to Rapping CLICK HERE

    • Hey Eiree! Thanks for stopping by. I am glad that you found this helpful! I will keep them coming! Is there anything you may be interested in me covering more in depth in the future? Let me know, would love to hear your thoughts. Take care!

  • Hey I have been writing a lot of lyrics, but don’t know how to create rhythms for my songs, and it’s all new for me. So what should I do or know cause writing is easy but creating is difficult.

  • Hey Cole,

    Thanks for all your vids man. No matter what I do, I feel stuck in the same flow. Every time a beat comes on, my brain automatically jumps to this 90s-style flow and it feels boring as hell. Any ideas on how I could step outside the box? I listen to a ton of rappers and I understand what they do on every beat – how they’re creating their own percussion with their words, but whenever I turn on a beat for myself, I’m just stuck in this same flow and I can’t branch out of it.

    • Hey Ralphie,

      Very good question! I talk about ways to overcome this by the power of referencing other rappers music. It sounds like you’re already part of the way there. Check out this article and video on creating cadence and this article on how to create a unique rap style let me know if this is helpful and if you have any further questions I would be glad to answer them for you! Thanks for reading and commenting! Talk to you soon! – Cole Mize

  • Hey I’m Peter but you can call me Pete, I’ve been practicing my rhythm and flow i’m not that good but i’m alright i kinda get really nervous and anxious when i’ll spit because I don’t really know what to say and when I look around for a good topic to rap about. It won’t really make any sense. I wanna be a good rapper but I know it takes practice. Any advice???

    • Hey Pete, thanks for reaching out with your question. My best advice for you is to save my How To Rap video playlist to your Youtube

      and watch the videos in the order of the playlist from the 1st to the last. Don’t rush through them and take your time and learn at your own pace. If you have any questions after watching a video, read the comments sections first as your question may already be answered. If not then ask the question and I will get right back to you. I cover a whole bunch of really good information in my videos and I’m always making new ones.

      You’re not in this alone so always feel free to ask questions and I will help you out the best that I can. I hope my video serve you greatly! Talk to you soon and keep up the great work!

  • I personally prefer to keep the same rhythm for at least 8 bars, or a verse, but to have unique delivery which doesn’t let the track be monotonic. And I might sacrifice rhythm at some point sometimes (stretching some syllables), but not around rhyme structure

  • I like the idea of just playing around with no specific words too. Some of the greatest MCs suggest this as well. Because, if you try to use some kinda formula and restrictions, you will end up having only few rhythmic opportunities (ending at 4th beat, off the beat, at the 16th syllable area etc.) and run outta ideas soon. But when you listen to the beat and try something, you will eventually, with the help of delivery schemes, be able to use vocals as an additional instrument

    • Exactly Achi! Very well put! I’m glad that you see the potential with applying this technique of scatting. Keep up the hard work and I’m wishing you the best in all your musical endeavors! 🙂

  • Wow…Okay My problem is..I am girl but with a rough deep voice of a nigga.I do try to make it sounds sweet …BUH thee more I try the worse it becomes. One other thing…I find my lines very whack at times.never stoped writing though. How do I make my lines dope?

  • I liked how you mentioned that variations in your tone and volume of your voice can help give the emotion to your raps. My brother is wanting to become a rapper and he was wondering how he could improve his musical skills. I’ll be sure to tell him that he should learn how to change his tone and volume of his voice when rapping.

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