How To Rap – Cadence Explained

One question that I often get asked from people who are learning how to rap is how they can improve their cadence. If you are unaware of what cadence is it basically means “rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds or words”. Basically cadence has to do with your style & flow of how you are delivering your rhymes to the tempo of the beat. If you haven’t learned how rap in time with the beat I suggest you watch these two videos Establishing Rhythm pt.1 & Establishing Rhythm pt.2. It’s important to know how to establish your rhythm first because rhythm is the foundation that you are going to be building your cadence off of.

Bruce Lee once said “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” This concept applies to cadence because no two songs will be exactly the same therefor your cadence must flow like water and be able to take the form of any container “instrumental, beat, song” that it’s put within. Practicing this theory correctly will allow you to standout and sound different in each song which will intern keep your flow fresh while retaining your listeners attention.

Now that you get the concept please allow me to share how I apply it. The first thing I do when I am getting ready to write lyrics is I pick the instrumental. Now I may listen to dozens of instrumentals and they may all sound great but what I pay close attention to is which beat is speaking to me. By that I mean which beat moves me emotionally, causes me to want to start freestyling, and makes me to start bobbing my head and moving my body. This is kinda like going to the store to by clothes. Tho the store may be packed full of gear there may only be a few that really move you enough to want to make a purchase.

Now the last thing I do before I commit to an instrumental to write to is I try on the beat. Just like trying on clothes the outfit may be dope but it might not fit you. My way of trying on a beat is simply playing it for a while as I start coming up with cadences. At this stage I am just getting a feel for how I can flow to it in such a way that is unique, fresh and interesting. I do this by just mumbling gibberish as if I we’re rapping a verse. Since there are no lyrics yet I’m not limited to how I can flow and therefor I am able to easily play around with my cadence without any restrictions. At this point i’m being just like water formless and shapeless. I’m moving around in the beat many different ways and once I feel I found a beat that moves me emotionally and that I enjoy flowing to then i’m ready to start writing lyrics.

When I move on to write lyrics I still mumble gibberish throughout the writing process. It’s my way to keep switching up my cadence in unique ways if I feel like it will benefit the song. As in many of my lessons there is no right or wrong way to do this and you should always do what you feel it best for the song. I hope that you found this lesson helpful and if you have any questions, comments or feedback please drop your 2 cents in the comments section below! Until next time keep being a better rapper now!

  • This may be the most important lesson you can learn while rapping. Flow is a necessary and will set you apart more than lyrics IMO.

    My technique:
    I imagine each bar as a left to right bar divided in two colors one red and the other blue then listen closely to hear the repeating element in the back. when you hear that imagine guitar hero you’ll clearly notice now a line of instruments almost going in order just hit them with your voice and you’ll start hearing rhythm.

    Then do exactly what Cole demonstrates and scat and have fun with it. You’ll find coming up with rhythms almost automatic because you will still be human an unable to mimic the beats perfectly and that’s the beauty of rap. You can’t be wrong you can just be you. 🙂

    HE has other great videos to practice to also check them out
    Cole Mize establishing rhythms:
    Cole Mize Hacking the beat :
    Cole Mize catching the beat:

    • Hey Tre that’s a very unique way of thinking about bars as far as visuals and colors in reference to guitar hero. I thought that was really cool! Thanks so much for all of your support bro! I am so happy that you are learning so quickly! Keep up the great work and I will do the same!

  • Great quote from Bruce lee! Great analogy to the store and trying on clothes. You always use things that the reader can relate to; that’s awesome. great technique! And thanks for that new word; I have never heard the word cadence until listening to you and reading your articles.

    • Hey Triston, glad to hear that you are enjoying my teaching references and Bruce Lee is awesome!! 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting with encouraging and helpful feedback! So glad to hear that you are learning so much from my content! That’s what it’s all about!

  • I did this naturally! my friends laugh at my process of mumbling and harmonizing to find my lyrics & flow, yet they love the final song & admit I out rap them.

    • There you go Solo, most people never see the behind the scenes workings of creating a song so it’s weird to them but business as usual for us. 🙂 Thanks for checking out my article and I’m glad you enjoyed! 🙂 – Cole Mize

  • This segment really helped me. Thank you Cole, and Tre that was interesting. Never heard of that before. I am still learning my notes and rhythm but have great capabilities of writing and rhyming any word almost. I never succeeded in anything I have never completely put my whole heart and soul into something until now. Thanks Cole for being such a consisting resource and help. Idc to make it big really. But it’s therapeutic to one’s self to get stuff off their mind. Again, thank you.

    • Hey Phillip, Thanks for all of your kind words bro! I’m really happy to hear that my content is helping you out so much! That’s what it’s all about right there man! Mastering anything is never easy but you will learn so much from the discipline it takes to do so which you will apply to other areas of your life as well as future endeavors. It certainly helps to try and master something you enjoy lol! I’m wishing you the best on your musical journey and if you ever need any help along the way always feel free to reach out! Much love and respect! 🙂 – Cole Mize

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