The Process Behind Writing Quality Rap Lyrics | Word Selection

Today I’m going to be showing you something that you never get to see your favorite rappers do. When you’re listening to their songs and admiring their flow and lyrics you’re only hearing their best ideas, you’re not hearing all of the things they thought of and decided not to use.


You see, the creative process is an iterative process, which means our best ideas aren’t usually our first ideas. We usually come up with several versions of something before we decide which one we like the best.

So join me, as I reveal to you the mindset and process behind writing quality rap lyrics.

For today’s lesson I’m going to be rapping over an instrumental I produced called Night Life. I’m also rockin’ one of my new Rhymeinator tee’s which I’ll be using as a theme for today’s lyrics. If you like this shirt or instrumental and want to support me you can get this instrumental on my beat store and this shirt on my merch store.


Before you’re ready to write lyrics it’s typically best to at least have a general idea of what you want to write about. And be aware of how much space you need to fill in. Is it one verse? Are you writing a song that had 3 verses? 

In today’s example, for the sake of brevity, I’m only writing 4 bars so that will affect the decisions I make.

I’ve already committed to writing to the theme “Rhymeinator” which is a spin-off of the word “Terminator”. The basic premise I have is the Terminator challenging me to a rap battle, so it’s like the Terminator vs the Rhymeinator or me destroying the Terminator and then inheriting the name Rhymeinator.

If you’re stuck on coming up with a concept for your song make sure you check out my video “How To Begin Writing A Rap Song In 3 Easy Steps”.


STEP 1: Rhyme Selection

Once you have a concept for your verse or song the first step to writing quality rap lyrics is to pick the word you’re going to use to begin your rhyme scheme. You should pick a word that fits the concept of your verse or song.

The first word I’m picking to be a part of my rhyme scheme is “Rhymeinator”.

STEP 2: Rhyme Placement

The 2nd step is Rhyme Placement. I’m going to place my rhyme on the 4th beat which is a very common place to put a rhyme. You can place your rhyme anywhere, just try to land near the same spot on the following bar so that your rhymes have a strong connection with each other.

“Rhymeinator” has 4 syllables which will at least fill in one beat of my bar if I’m using 16th notes. So I only have 3 more beats to fill in and my first bar will be done!

Now I’m going to scat up until my word to get a sense of the cadence I want to use and a rough idea of how many syllables I may use. While I’m scatting I’m repeating some sounds to mimic a possible internal rhyme. 

STEP 3: Iteration

Step 3 is iteration. As I continue to scat slightly different variations of cadences I begin to fill in more words until I’m satisfied with my bar.


Alright, Asta La Vista baby call me the Rhymeinator sounds perfect to me but there’s something already feeling off.


Now that my first line is finished, I don’t feel like it should be the first line of this 4 bar section, it feels more like a punchline and I feel like I were to write 3 more bars leading into it, it will make this line hit harder because it will have more context and more of a setup.

When you’re writing your lyrics feel free to play around with the arrangement of your bars. We don’t always have to write in a linear fashion from beginning to end. Often times your creative ideas don’t come to you in the order you may use them in your lyrics. And you can really box yourself in creatively when you force yourself to only write in order.

Just get your ideas down and then you can figure out how to use them later.

Now I’m going to take you through the process of me writing 3 bars leading into the bar I’ve already written.


STEP 1: Rhyme Selection

Since I already know that my bars are leading up to a Terminator/ Rhymeinator theme I’m going to simply create a list of rhymes that could make sense with this theme. You can either pick rhymes from memory or use a rhyming dictionary if you feel yourself getting stuck or just want to speed things up.

Currently one of my favorite rhyming dictionaries is RhymeZone 

As you can see, as I’m creating my list of rhymes I’m already thinking of how I could use them.

I’m going to go ahead and commit to Terminator because I want to establish who I’m talking about pretty quickly so that I can add more context to my interaction with the Terminator before rapping my 4th bar.

STEP 2: Iteration

Alright, I’ve committed to using Terminator for the first bar.

I’m not too worried about the cadence right now. I already have an idea of the general cadence I want to use since I’ve already written my 4th bar. So I’m going to mainly focus on the lyrics for a moment and write a few variations of the 1st line and then I will take another look at the cadence.


My least favorite of these was the 1st line. It wasn’t bad, but “the one and only” just didn’t do it for me.


My 2nd attempt felt like an improvement. I liked the internal rhyme of “pproached” and “roach”. I also liked that roach was already taking a jab at the Terminator. 


On my 3rd attempt I changed “approach” to “encroached” because I felt encroached was a better choice because it means “to advance beyond proper, established, or usual limits; make gradual inroads” while “approach” just means “to come near someone or thing”

I also intentionally put fewer syllables in this bar to give myself room to build off my cadence and make it feel more aggressive in the coming bars.


On my 4th attempt I added an additional internal rhyme with “pon” and “one” and I changed the cadence up to get all of my syllables out in time while still having room to place “Terminator” on the 4th beat. While I really liked this cadence and the additional rhymes, I felt it may be a bit too much for an opening line and I prefer to build up to this type of energy.


So with all of that being said, I decided to go with my 3rd attempt “

“I was encroached upon by the Terminator”


Now, while picking my rhyme for bar 2 I’m going to keep in mind what I said in bar 1 and bar 4 and what I may potentially say in bar 3 which leads directly into bar 4. This is the part of writing lyrics that’s almost like playing lyrical chess because you’re considering so many different factors at once.

With that in mind, I’m not going to commit 100% to a rhyme. I’m going to come up with a few different variations of lines that use different rhymes to give myself a little more flexibility.


For my 1st attempt I came up with

He said I heard you rap, you wanna battle later?

My only issue with this line is “you wanna battle later?” because I felt like the battle should be going down right now. If I were writing a full song then this would work because verse 1 could be about the build-up to the battle and then the battle could take place in the later verses.

But since I’m limiting myself to 4 bars, this isn’t going to work.


For my 2nd attempt I wrote

“He said do me a favor, and lets battle for paper”

There’s really nothing wrong with this line but to me it felt too polite for a confrontation. I want there to be a little more tension.


For my third attempt, I wrote

He challenged me to a rap battle now that’s some crude behavior

I really liked this line mainly because of my response at the end which is a slight jab when I say “now that’s some crude behavior”. Crude means “lacking culture, refinement, tact, etc.”

But one thing I still don’t like about this line is it’s a bit too wordy and if I rap everything nice and clear it pushes the placement of “behavior” to the beginning of the next bar which isn’t a bad thing, but I prefer to keep my rhyme scheme on the 4th beat of bar three because I want as much room as possible for my next line on bar 3. 

And if rap this line a little faster to fit “behavior” on the 4th beat  it causes my words to fill a little cramped and squished which I don’t like, so I’m going to reword this line to say the same thing with fewer syllables.


He challenged me to a rap battle now that’s some crude behavior

I reworded my line by removing “now” and “some” which was just the amount of space that I needed.


Now for the 3rd bar I really want to try and turn things up a bit! I’m going to try and make this bar more dense and aggressive than the others by using more rhymes and 16th notes, maybe even some 32nd notes.

With that being said, I’m heavily focusing on Bar 2 and bar 4 to make sure that this line connects the two together perfectly!


You’ve got your eye on the mize the other ones a lazer

For my first attempt, I played with a bit of a play on words by changing the saying “eye on the prize” to “eye on the mize” which is okay. I just felt this line was a little on the weak side and I felt I could do better.


Your rhymes is booty paper, my lyrics cut like razors

For my 2nd attempt I drew a contrast between his lyrics being soft as toilet paper and my lyrics being as sharp as razors. I really loved this line and If I were writing a full verse for today’s example I would have went with it, but because I’m limiting myself to writing only 4 bars I wanted a line that felt more like a response to the Terminator challenging me to a rap battle opposed to me getting into the rap battle.


How could I refuse your caper better prepare to meet your maker

I really loved my 3rd attempt! It was a response to the last line that also connects with the following line, the cadence felt aggressive, and I rhymed more with “Caper” and “Maker” and “BE/tter” and “PRE/pare.

My only drawback was it just felt a little too much of a jump in energy from the bar before it and the bar after it.


How could I refuse your caper, prepare to meet your maker 

How could I refuse your caper better prepare to meet your maker

So for my 4th attempt, I simply removed the word “better” and it gave me just the amount of energy that I felt this line needed. This is a great example of why you shouldn’t let rhymes be the most important thing you’re chasing. In this case, I sacrificed a rhyme to preserve the energy I felt I needed for this bar.


Checking the context of the 3rd and 4th bar

Now one more problem I noticed is there was a bit too much of a pause between my 3rd and 4th bar which killed the momentum that I had built. So I fixed this by removing one 16th note earlier on the 4th bar which fixed this issue but created another problem. Now “they call me the Rhymeinator” is landing too early.

Now to fix this all I did was add the word “they” which pushed “call me the Rhymeinator” back to its original position.

BOOM! Now these lyrics are PERFECT!


My name is Cole Mize with where I strive to make you a Better Rapper Now! If you’re new here don’t cheat yourself, treat yourself to a free copy of my eBook The #1 Fundamental To Rapping, Bar Sheets to help you structure your rap lyrics, and 6 practice instrumentals all for free via the form below!

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