If you’re a rapper that’s struggling to get your rap lyrics to sound good over an instrumental then stay tuned because I’m about to show you 3 easy techniques you can use today that will take your rap lyrics from sound like garbage to sounding like gold.
What I’m showing you today is the Engineering or the “problem solving” part of being a rapper. To Learn more about all of the elements of rapping be sure to check out my lesson The 5 Pillars of Rapping. When you have an issue with your rap lyrics and the instrumental not working together you should first assess the problem so you can identify the proper solution.
IDENTIFYING THE ISSUE
If your bars feel like they have a good balance of syllables within them, feeling neither too dense or too empty but you still don’t like the way they sound over the instrumental then your issue is likely that you just don’t like the cadence that you’re using.
So in this situation you should take a moment to scat for a little bit or refer to some cadences that one of your favorite rappers uses in a song that you like and once you find a cadence you enjoy, use it and then start filling in your new scat/cadence with your existing lyrics.
However, if you start working with a new cadence you likely will need to go back to your lyrics and tweak them to match your new cadence in one or a combination of the 3 following ways.
Quick Note: These techniques can also be used if you already like your cadence but you still feel like your bars have either too much or not enough empty space in them.
In today’s scenario I like how my cadence begins but there’s too many syllables in my bars which quickly causes my cadence pattern to fall apart. So my goal is to create more space in my bars so that I can polish up my cadence without losing the meaning of my lyrics.
Shift the starting point of where you begin rapping to either fill more empty space or create more empty space within your bar.
For example, if you feel like you don’t have enough room to comfortably fit your lyrics in your bars then try to begin rapping earlier within the bar or even at the end of the bar before it if there’s room.
If you have the opposite problem and feel like you don’t have enough lyrics in your bar then begin rapping later in the bar or add some more pauses throughout the bar. Pausing is a great way to fill in bars!
Since I have too many lyrics I’m going to start rapping earlier so that I come in right after the 1st beat. I typically try this technique out first because it’s usually the easiest way to get a quick win and it doesn’t require you to change your lyrics.
2 SHAVE OR EXTEND
Now that I’ve given my lyrics more room to occupy the bar, I still have too many lyrics. It’s time to make some changes to the lyrics.
If you feel like you’re really close to matching your lyrics and cadence together perfectly but your lyrics still feel just a little off then you may need to manipulate the length of your words or phrases to make them longer or shorter. I refer to this as Shaving or Extending.
For example if you’re trying to create a little more space you can Shave a little off words or phrases like this.
The – Tha
You/your – Ya
And – An
Gonna – Gone
About – bout
Or conversely, if you need to fill in more space you can extend words or phrases like this.
I’m – I am
Won’t – Will not
Don’t – Do not
Hi – Hello
I’m going to shave my lyrics down by turning all my you and yours to “ya”, the to tha, and will not to won’t.
I’ve almost perfected these bars but I still don’t like how “like some verbal diarrhea” sounds. It still feels too long and the tail end of “diarrhea” is crossing over into the next bar.
There’s nothing wrong with your lyrics carrying over into other bars as long as that’s what you’re going after.
In this case it doesn’t match my cadence pattern from bar 1 so I still need to remove something more off my lyrics.
Rewording your lyrics is the most drastic change you can make to your lyrics which is why I usually use it as a last resort.
If your lyrics and cadence still aren’t working together perfectly then you may need to reword your rap lyrics to say the same thing in fewer or more words depending on what’s needed.
REWORDING FOR MORE
Sup? – What’s up? What’s going on? What’s going on with you?
REWORDING FOR LESS
Do You know what I mean – Nah-I-Mean?
Do you know what I am talking about – Nah-um-tah-bout
In my case, instead of saying “ Sound like some verbal Diarrhea” I can say the same thing in fewer words by saying “Sound like verbal Diarrhea”.
So then next time your lyrics don’t sound quite right over the instrumental, try one or a combination of Shifting, Shaving or Expanding, and Rewording your lyrics!