In this video, I’m going to reveal some of the secret sauce behind what made Biggie’s iconic rap flow so smooth and unique! For all of today’s demonstrations, i’m going to be using Biggie’s vocals from his hit song “Big Poppa” over a fire instrumental that I produced called “Night Life”. If you like this beat, you can get it over at my beat store.
Now one major factor that contributes to Biggies smooth signature rap flow is his masterful implementation of using late swing.
For example on bar 01 beat 3 “style and grace” are basically 8th notes but they’re not timed perfectly on beat like 8th notes typically. For example “style” lands right on the 3rd beat but it’s not held as long as a typical 8th note is. Then the word “and” comes in a little before the 2nd half of this beat which is where perfectly timed 8th notes are placed. Then the word “grace” comes in a little before the 4th beat and then is held to lean over the 4th beat, more on this technique in just a minute.
Now I’m going to play Biggie rapping this bar and then I’m going to rap the same cadence but I’m going to get rid of the swing on the 3rd and 4th beat and notice how Biggie’s sounds better with his swing than I do without it.
Biggie continues to use this swing throughout his verse. For example, on Bar 02 the words “to lace” has a little bit of a late swing on it as well. This one is a little harder to hear because he added his swing to 16th notes which is a testament to how good Biggie’s musical skills as a rapper were.
In this example, he lands the word “to” perfectly on beat but the word “lace” is where he placed the late swing. Now let’s do another shoot-out where I play Biggie’s swing and then I rap the same cadence without the swing so that you can hear the difference that swing can make to your rap flow.
Biggie also has some nice swing on Bar 3 on the 1st beat with the words “who rock grooves” He does the same move here as before on bar 01 beat 3 with the swinging 8th notes.
Now here’s Biggie rapping his cadence and then me rapping it without the swing.
Leaning Over Beats
Now, as I already pointed out Biggie often times begins a one-syllable word before a beat and drags it over the beat. This makes his flow sound really relaxed and smooth and less boxed in within the beat sections.
He does this on bar 1 with “grace” leading into beat 04
Bar 3 with “grooves” leading into beat 2 and “moves” leading into beat 03
Bar 4 with “club” leading into beat 2
Now listen for this move as I play back this section of his Verse
Take More Than 1 Bar To Complete A Thought
Sometimes us rappers will treat a bar like it’s a sentence, meaning we default to always trying to cram a full sentence or thought within a bar. Sometimes you need to give yourself more room to convey what you’re really wanting to say and Biggie was well aware of this.
For example, Biggie doesn’t wait until the 1st beat of bar one of his verse to begin rapping. He begins rapping on the 2nd 16th note of beat 4 of the bar before the verse section of the instrumental begins.
He also doesn’t finish his first full thought until the end of bar 2. Let’s take another listen and pay attention to that.
Perfecting Your Rap Flow
If you’re wanting to dig deeper into learning how to master your rap flow, stay tuned because I’m about to drop a game-changing rap course in a few weeks that’s going to help you take your rap flow to a whole new level! And if you’re watching this in the future, I’ll post a link to it in the video description below.
My name is Cole Mize with colemizestudios.com where I strive to make you a better rapper now! If you’re trying to perfect your rap skills make sure you get yourself a FREE copy of my eBook The #1 fundamental via the form below and always remember when it comes to rapping, there’s no rules, there’s only techniques. Peace!