I routinely say at the end of each of my videos “And remember, when it comes to rapping, there’s no rules, there’s only techniques”.
Now please allow me to seemingly contradict myself for just a moment.
If I were to tell you that there was one rule it would be this…
“Always…and I mean always… follow… the inspiration”.
You see if you always follow the inspiration you will be much freer throughout the creative process. I’ve found that the creative process is very much about getting out of your own way.
If you follow the inspiration then you will likely discover that you don’t approach every song the same exact way.
5 Step Blueprint For Writing Rap Songs
For example here are the bullet points (in order) to my 5 step blueprint for writing rap songs.
- Pick out the instrumental
- Detect the tempo and the key of the song and identify the song structure
- Brainstorm and storyboard
- Write the hook and then write the verses
- Finalize the song by making any last-minute tweaks and then call it done!
Now I write songs a lot using this exact order because it works great! But I break this order all the time as well!
Sometimes I’ll get ideas for hooks while I’m driving, doing work around the house, or taking a shower. This is before I even have an instrumental. I’ll simply record my vocals on my phone so that I can come back later and figure out the instrumental portion. I have close to 80 hooks on my phone I’ve done this with!
Sometimes I’ll think of some random punchline that I save on my phone and then I will later create a concept for the song around it. Again, this is before there’s an instrumental or a hook.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a rap verse before I had an instrumental or a hook. Later on, I would find a dope instrumental and then make tweaks to my lyrics to make them fit perfectly within the instrumental.
Speaking of instrumentals, there have been several times where I’ve written a song to an instrumental and later decided the instrumental wasn’t quite “cutting it”. So I’d go on the hunt for a better instrumental and then make tweaks to my lyrics to make it fit the new instrumental perfectly.
I’ve also written songs or verses backward! If I have a creative idea of how a verse or song should end, I may go ahead write that part first and then go back to the beginning and write up to that ending or I’ll just keep writing in 4 bar chunks from the ending back to the beginning. It sounds complicated but it’s actually pretty easy!
There have also been times with certain songs where I’ve written all my verses but then I decide I want to switch around the order of the verses. For example, I may swap verse 1 and verse 2 out with each other.
Also, it’s very common for me to chop up an instrumental and rearrange the song-structure. For example, it may have room for 3 verses but it may feel too long so I’ll remove the 3rd verse.
Or the song starts after the outro with a verse and I want to start with a hook. So I chop off the hook section of the instrumental and paste it after the intro.
The Creative Process
As you can see, the creative process isn’t an assembly line where you always do things in the same order. In fact, the creative process can be kind of messy and chaotic at times!
But that’s okay! You can always go back and tidy up things later.
And no matter where you begin you can always go back to the steps I shared from my 5 Step Blueprint and continue the steps in whatever order makes sense to you.
What’s most important and that you just…begin! And when you’re following the inspiration you’re chasing your own curiosity, not knowing where it may lead but trusting that it will be magical!
BUT!… Don’t wait on the inspiration before beginning to work on a song, oftentimes the inspiration is waiting on you! So just show up and expect awesome things to happen!
And remember, when it comes to rapping… there’s no rules…there’s only… techniques!
Let me know in the comments section below different ways you’ve approached the songwriting process! I’d love to hear from you!