If you're reading this, chances are you want to know how to write better rap lyrics. And who could blame you?
After all, writing rap lyrics is a skill that can help you stand out from the crowd and make your music more memorable.
In this post, we'll give you 10 tips (And one BONUS tip at the end!) to help you improve your lyric-writing skills and become a better rapper.
So let's get started!
- Understand the Basics of Rap Lyrics
- Learn how To Use Literary Devices in Your Lyrics
- Write Songs that Are Meaningful To You
- How to Write Better Rap Lyrics Using a Rhyming Dictionary
- Practice Freestyling
- Experiment with Different Rhyming Schemes
- Make A Playlist Of Rap Beats And Write Every Day
- Listen to Rap Songs and Study Their Lyrics
- Make Sure Your Lyrics Flow Well and Have a Good Cadence
- Record Yourself Rapping and Listen to How It Sounds
- Get Feedback from Other Rappers and Songwriters
- Polish up Your Lyrics until They're Ready for Release
- Bonus Tip: AI SongWriting Software
Understand the Basics of Rap Lyrics
Rap lyrics are written in a nearly poetic form, consisting of 16 lines broken into 4 distinct sections (or "verses"). They typically rhyme and are delivered in a rhythmic fashion.
The average rap is 80 BPM, meaning each beat lasts just under a second. Then there are usually 8 bars in the chorus of a typical rap song with this type and speed; 32 counts for all those syllables!
Rap lyrics often relay the personal experiences of the artist, and can be used as a form of storytelling. They also commonly comment on social and political issues.
Mastering the art of rap lyrics isn't something that happens overnight.
It's a journey that requires patience, determination, and a whole lot of creativity. The ability to create something truly meaningful and unforgettable isn't just a gift you're born with, it's about more than just innate talent.
It's a craft,
and like all crafts it can be honed over time. If you dig deep into the essence of rap, you'll find that many great lyricists heavily lean on poetic techniques and complex metaphors in their verses.
So what does that really mean for you? Well, by understanding these techniques, not only can you enhance your own writing style, but also breathe new life into your lyrics.
The beauty of rap lies in its storytelling prowess. Amidst the beats and rhythm,
it is often the narrative that resonates with listeners.
That comes from weaving words together in an authentic way -- one that resonates with people on a deeper level. Words are powerful tools -- and when used right, they can move mountains.
You're an artist after all! It's time to embrace your creativity and let it shine through every line you pen down.
Learn how To Use Literary Devices in Your Lyrics
Literary devices are tools used by writers to enhance the quality of their writing. There are many different types of literary devices, but some of the most commonly used in rap lyrics are;
A metaphor is a figure of speech in which an object or action is described in terms of another object or action.
For example, "life is a journey," "love is blind," and "time heals all wounds." These phrases are not meant to be taken literally. They are used to help explain complex concepts or emotions in a more relatable way.
Another example would be saying that someone's eyes are "windows to the soul." This means that you can learn a lot about someone by looking into their eyes. Metaphors are often very effective in making an image or point linger in the mind.
A simile is a literary device or figure of speech that compares two things using the words "like" or "as." For example, you might say that someone is as strong as an ox, or as brave as a lion. Similes can be fun and interesting to use in writing, and they can also help make your point more clearly.
Alliteration is the repetition of the same letter sound at the beginning of consecutive words. For example, "She sells seashells (by the seashore)." This sentence uses alliteration to repeat the /s/ sound. Alliteration can be used to make your lyrics more memorable and fun to listen to.
Papoose is a rapper known for his creative use of alliteration in his lyrics. On the track "Alphabetical Slaughter", his first 4 bars are:
"Alert, assassins at large allegedly
Automatic artillery, angrily aimed and aggressively
Accurate AK's angled all ways
Adversary afraid as active ammunition abraise"
Onomatopoeia is a word that phonetically imitates, resembles, or suggests the sound of some other word or the noise of an object. For example "buzz" "hiss" and "roar." Onomatopoeia can be a fun way to add realism to your lyrics. It can also be used to create an emotional response in the listener.
Many rappers use onomatopoeia in their songs to convey how a particular action or sound makes them feel.
Learning about literary devices and how to use them in your lyrics can help make your writing more interesting and complex. But don't feel like you have to try and use every device under the sun. Just focus on using a few that will best fit the message you're trying to convey.
Write Songs that Are Meaningful To You
What you write will not always be relatable to your audience, but it's important that you rap about what matters to you. When writing, try and tap into your personal experiences and emotions.
This will make your lyrics more genuine and heartfelt. The audience does not need to relate to every experience in order to connect with your music, although some experiences will always be more universal.
It's also important to be true to yourself and your own voice. Don't try and emulate another rapper or write in a style that you're not comfortable with. Be authentic and let your personality shine through in your lyrics.
Many successful rappers have written songs about their life struggles. For example, Eminem often writes about his battles with addiction and depression. Tupac Shakur wrote many songs about social and political issues. These rappers were able to connect with their audience because they were honest and open about their personal experiences.
Likewise, if you have not had a "rough life", or street struggles, do not feel you need to fake it. There are many different types of stories that can be told in rap, and your experiences are just as valid as anyone else's.
How to Write Better Rap Lyrics Using a Rhyming Dictionary
There are so many rhyming dictionary platforms, whether paid or free - take your pick! But technology has moved on quite a bit since some of these first came out, (if you read on to my bonus tip you will see what I mean...)
Rhyming Dictionary Software:
MasterWriter is a software program that allows you to find rhymes for any word, and also includes a thesaurus and a range of other tools for writers.
It is a paid tool but they do offer a free trial.
Rhyme Zone has been about since I was in school! Not sure if it has even been updated, but it does the job well. Need a word with 3-syllables to rhyme with 'meditate' - Rhyme Zone has got you.
You can even click on the word to learn the meaning and get the right context to see if it is a fit.
While this is technically classed as "cheating", hopefully, you start to learn new words, phrases and expand your vocabulary naturally. An expansive vocabulary is a rapper's best friend!
Rhymer helps you find end rhymes, last syllable rhymes, double rhymes, triple rhymes, beginning rhymes, and first syllable or near rhymes.
It is free to use online, but like RhymeZone it is a no-frills type of application. It does, however, get bonus points for breaking down each type of rhyme I listed above with examples.
Nowadays, it is not a necessity for a rapper to know how to freestyle (it is not even a necessity to learn your lyrics as everybody pretty much reads them off their phone - no shade).
But if you can practice freestyling in your idle time about any and everything, it will help with your lyrical prowess. It also helps to loosen you up and get the creative juices flowing when you sit down to write formally.
You might even come up with some song ideas or hooks that you can build out later on. But mostly, this is just fun creative activity.
Damn, I forgot my car keys, silly me//
Must have been daydreaming 'bout hacking the industry//
Experiment with Different Rhyming Schemes
Not all rap lyrics have to follow a strict AABBCCDD rhyme scheme. In fact, many popular rappers switch it up and experiment with different schemes.
For example, Kendrick Lamar often uses a three-line rhyme scheme in his verses, while Chance the Rapper experiments with a variety of irregular patterns.
Be creative and try out different rhyming schemes to see what works best for you and your flow.
Make A Playlist Of Rap Beats And Write Every Day
Gather up your favorite producer's instrumentals or find some remakes on Youtube, create a playlist and start a ritual. Every day in the shower, or every day when you wake up, or before you go to bed - listen to your rap beats and write.
If you are on the commute to work, get comfortable creating and memorising the bars in your head.
At the very least, this will help get the creative juices flowing. And if nothing comes of it but frustration, well at least you got a sick beat playlist out of it!
Listen to Rap Songs and Study Their Lyrics
One of the best ways to learn how to write better rap lyrics is to study how other rappers have done it. Listen to your favorite rap songs and pay attention to the lyrics.
Not only will this help you develop a better understanding for how rap lyrics are structured, but you might also get some inspiration from your favorite artists.
Many successful rappers draw inspiration from other songs (not just rap). They'll listen to a beat or instrumental and start freestyling until something comes to them. A lot of songs are remixed or have been made with a sample of an older song. Sometimes whole choruses are constructed from picking apart old songs.
So get in the habit of listening to rap, and other music genres too! You never know what might spark an idea for a new song.
Make Sure Your Lyrics Flow Well and Have a Good Cadence
I never really knew how powerful cadence was and how many artists lacked it until 50 Cent came on the music scene. Listen to some of 50's stuff, notice how he kind of sings some of his lyrics. Granted, this isn't a rare thing anymore, and since autotune entered - everybody's raps had melodies in them.
But if you're not using autotune and your lyrics just sound like you're reading them off a piece of paper, it's going to be really difficult for people to want to listen to your music.
When you are writing lyrics, make sure that they flow well and have a good cadence. This means that the words should be pronounced in such a way that they sound smooth when spoken aloud.
It also helps to have some rhythm or melody to your lyrics - this is what makes them catchy and easy to remember. You don't want your listeners struggling to keep up with your lyrics.
You could write the best lyrics in the world but if they are delivered in a boring, unappealing way, nobody will ever hear them.
Record Yourself Rapping and Listen to How It Sounds
You do not need any fancy recording equipment, your phone will do. Record yourself rapping your lyrics, listen to how it sounds and make adjustments accordingly.
This is a great way to test how well your lyrics flow and if they sound good when spoken aloud. It's also helpful for detecting any mistakes you might have made while writing them.
You will also notice if you have used too many syllables or words that don't rhyme well when said out loud. Overuse of syllables is a rap crime. It really shows that somebody is an amateur because keeping the rhythm is the most basic aspect of rapping.
Be creative. Be flexible. But by God, please be on beat!
Get Feedback from Other Rappers and Songwriters
Spit your bars to people you know are going, to be honest with you. You do not need your ego stroked, you need honest but constructive criticism to help you to write better rap lyrics.
It can be difficult to objectively critique your own lyrics, so it's helpful to get feedback from other rappers and songwriters. They will be able to give you honest feedback on how well your lyrics flow and how they sound when spoken aloud.
They might also be able to suggest some changes that could make them sound better. Be open to constructive criticism and make changes to your lyrics if necessary.
Polish up Your Lyrics until They're Ready for Release
Don't just write it and put it away. It can always be reviewed and perfected. Could the flow be better, could you have chosen a better rhyming word etc.
Bonus Tip: AI SongWriting Software
Last but not least, our bonus tip! AI songwriting software! This is not a gimmick, and it is actually quite solid, hear me out.
You have probably heard about low-quality AI song writing software in the past and didn't even know how much the technology has progressed.
If you have ever had writer's block or you are stuck for ideas or concepts for songs, you will know how frustrating that can be. I have often abandoned songs and beats just because I can't figure out where to take it next.
Ultimately, using AI lyrics or using AI lyric generation software is a cheat code - and if people knew you were using it they probably wouldn't rate you very much, because it's not a real skill.
Not only that, but if you were to become dependent on it, you would never truly improve at writing better rap lyrics.
But if you're like me, and you want to be able to write songs quickly and at high quality, then this is the tool for you. It will help take your songwriting skills to the next level in minutes.