When it comes to rapping there’s always so much emphasis put on getting on beat, which is what every rapper should first learn to do. But once you learn to get on beat, you need to take it to the next level and learn how to get off-beat in a musical way, and I’m about to show you a few ways you can do it.
First off you need to realize that each beat has beats within it. For example, you can divide a beat in half which gives an additional place to land within the beat, these are known as 8th notes. Or you could divide a beat into 4 even sections which gives you 3 additional places you can land within the beat, these are known as 16th notes.
Or we could go one more step further and divide each 16th note in half which gives us a total of 7 more places that we can land within each beat and these are known as 32nd notes.
Now let’s put this knowledge to work and start rapping “off beat” in dope and musical way.
In all of these examples, I’m using a beat that I produced called Midnight Drive. If you like this instrumental, you can get it right now over on my beat store.
01 Dodging The Snares
In this example, I’m landing on the 1 and 3 beats but I paused on the 2nd and 4th beats. I also played around with the length of these pauses as well to make my 2nd bar feel a little more aggressive by reducing the length of my pause by filling it in more with 2 16th notes.
02 Dodging All Beats
In this example, I pause for the first half of each beat and fill in the 2nd half of the beat with triplet 8th notes.
A triplet note is when you take a standard rhythmic music note, like in this case, and 8th note and divide it into 3 even pieces which are called triplets. Here’s a demonstration of my turning my 8th notes into triplet 8th notes to give it that modern trap sound
Let’s take advantage of the extra space I still have remaining within each beat by adding a single triplet 8th note to the beginning of my last cadence.
03 Swinging over the beats
Another way that we can get off beat is by swinging over the beat
In this example I’m going to dodge all of the beats by using 2 methods at the same time.
The 1st method is the same one I’ve already demonstrated where I simple pause on a beat and then come in on one of the 16th notes after it. In this example I use this move on the 1st and 3rd beat.
Then on the 2nd and 4th beats which are where the snares are, I placed a note before each beat and I hold it until I hit the beat and then I place a note slightly after the beat which makes it feel more lazy and chill.
If you’re having trouble hearing the swing that I added on the snares, Here’s an example first without the swing and then with the swing. Without the swing my syllables will land directly on the snares which are the 2nd and 4th beat. Once the swing is applied you will notice my syllables landing slightly after the snares.
The main takeaway here is this, you don’t always have to land on every beat within a bar to make your rap flow sound good. Think of every beat section as having 4 different beats within it that you can land on which are called 16th notes.