How To Write A Rap Song | PART 3: STORYBOARDING



Welcome back to the 3rd video in my songwriting series for rappers.

 

Now In the last video we…

[1] Identified the emotion of the instrumental

[2] We captured our musical ideas in our DAW by recording some scats for the verse and the hook.

[3] We also began capturing our creative ideas for the song by writing them down 

Now let’s discuss the next steps you should take

COMMIT FIRST

A lot of unexperienced rappers will write down the first line they think of and then start letting the rhyme scheme they’re chasing dictate the direction of the song and this oftentimes produces a random song that lacks clear well well-thought-out direction, kind of like a freestyle.

I recommend that you commit to what the song is going to be about first before you begin writing your lyrics. This can take varying amounts of time from song to song. Sometimes the first concept you think about is what you go with and other times you may have to sit with the song a little longer. And often times as you’re jotting down ideas it can lead you into different rabbit holes of inner conversations or inspire you to dig deeper into topics.

Essentially when we’re writing songs we’re pouring out of ourselves. But sometimes we need to focus on pouring into ourselves in order to have something to pour out of ourselves.

So take whatever time you need, but focus on committing to what the song is going to be about.

And continue to jot down any creative ideas you have, and even though we’re not focused on writing lyrics at this very moment, if some lyrics come to mind go ahead and jot them down. Even if you don’t use them for this song, they could be used as a creative spark to begin writing another song.

STORYBOARD

And once you commit to a concept for your song it’s time to work on a storyboard. A storyboard is just a game plan on what you are trying to accomplish for each section of the song.

For example, if you’re writing a song about the first time you got your heart broken what should the hook say and what should you cover in each verse?

In verse 1 you could pick up from the current moment of having your heart broken. Or perhaps it would be a better move to write verse 1 about how you and your ex meet so that the listener can gain more perspective on how much this person meant to you.

Then in the 2nd verse you reveal how they betrayed you and broke your heart.

And maybe you keep the hook vague and say something along the lines of “I’ve never felt like this before” which doesn’t give too much away and actually means different things for each verse. 

For verse 1 the hook could mean you’ve never been this deeply in love and the 2nd hook could mean you’ve never been hurt this much before.

A SMARTER APPROACH

Approaching songwriting this way may seem more restrictive and time-consuming but it’s actually the opposite. You’re actually more flexible and efficient when you do some planning first because you can throw around so many different creative ideas and angles in a matter of seconds opposed to writing lyrics first and then scrapping your lyrics because you decide to take a different direction which requires you to write new lyrics which takes more time.

This planning stage of songwriting doesn’t have to take long, and as you advance as a songwriter you will be doing more of these things in your head on the fly. It doesn’t have to be a long and drawn out process.

I like to think of songwriting like driving a car. Before I drive the car, I typically have a destination in mind with directions on how to get there.

But when you’re writing a song leave some wiggle room to tweak the route to your destination. Because you’re still going to be getting creative ideas when you’re writing the song so leave room for some spontaneity.

Being flexible with songwriting will prevent you from getting stuck.

I’ve found that people get stuck during songwriting for 5 main reasons.

[1] Due to a lack of direction, they get lost 

[2] Due to a lack of planning, they say too much too soon, leaving themselves nowhere else to go.

[3] They box themselves in too much by chasing complex rhyme schemes and cadence patterns and don’t give themselves permission to explore spontaneous creative ideas which limits their options.

[4] They overthink things and obsess over small details that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

[5] They spend too much time working on a song and it loses its newness and they lose their excitement and interest.

My philosophy behind the creative process is a matter of balance. You should have a goal you’re trying to achieve but you should be flexible about how you get there. It’s wise to plan, but it’s even wiser to hold on to your plans loosely so that you can pivot when things change. In the wise words of Andre 3000 can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather.

MY COMMITMENT

With all that being said I’m about to commit to the song I’m writing based on my previous brainstorm.

I felt verse 1 of the instrumental felt like some type of conflict and the hook felt like a resolution to the conflict.

I decided to scratch my first 3 ideas and focus on writing a song centered around working hard, getting money, being overlooked, doubted, etc..

STORYBOARD

Now I’m going to create a quick storyboard for the song which will outline my creative approach and strategy to execute this idea. Remember I will likely tweak these as I begin writing but this gives me some good direction.

Verse 1: Struggling, doubt, bordering defeat, giving up. End the verse with being willing to go all in, putting it all on the line to achieve your goals. Ending the verse this way will transition well into a more uplifting hook.

Hook: Encouragement to work hard to make your dreams a reality

Verse 2: More energetic tone, making sacrifices (less socializing, hanging out, wasting time) Getting up earlier, cutting out distractions.

Verse 3:  getting after it, overcoming adversities, problem-solving, being resilient, focusing on solutions not problems.

NEXT STEPS

Now that I have a clear direction for my song it’s time to start executing both my musical and creative ideas by writing the hook and verses.

HOOK 1st

I look to write the hook first because verses are typically followed by hooks so writing your hook first will allow you to write verses that connect with it. Also, this will prevent any overlap from your verse into the hook. 

For example, pretend you’re 50 cent and you’re writing the song “In Tha Club” This hook begins with the words “You can find me in tha” on the last bar of the verse after the 3rd beat of the bar leading into the hook with the word “club” landing on the 1st beat of the hook section of the song, so 50 made sure he ended his verse before the hook begins to prevent any overlap.

I also typically like to write the hook first because the hook is usually repeated 2-3 times during the song it takes up nearly half of the song. So just by writing the hook, I’ve nearly written half the song. So this is a great way to get some good momentum going for your song!

So try to knock out your hook first and if you’re still not sure how to approach it check out my video on how to write a hook.

VERSE NEXT

Then once you’re done with the hook write your first verse.

If you need some help with how to approach your verse a couple of videos of mine I recommend are

How To Begin Writing A Rap Verse

The Process Behind Writing Quality Rap Lyrics

And in our next video, I’ll be going over my verse and hook with you.

Again my name is Cole Mize with Cole Mize Studios.com where I strive to make you a better rapper now! And don’t forget to get yourself a free copy of my eBook The #1 Fundamental to rapping below and always remember, when it comes to rapping, there’s no rules, there’s only techniques. Peace! 

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