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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Writing to rap, out loud


When I write poetry, I don’t need to consider the power of my vocal chords. For rap, however, this is a key element. I need to be able to use my voice as an instrument. I don’t have to be an accomplished singer but I do need to breathe properly and enunciate my words concisely. I need to consider these factors even as I write the song.

For the rap that’s due on July 10th for my poetry group, I have an idea for a song. I have written the chorus and about four lines. I read the words out loud. Then, I write one of sentences in the chorus twice because it sounds better that way. In a poem, however, I rarely repeat a sentence. I haven’t moved beyond the chorus and the four lines yet because I’m still getting accustomed to rhyming and rapping.

Another option that I’m considering is to convert an existing poem into a rap song. This is even more challenging. My poem is in free verse and the first two words of my poem are translating to two sentences of hip-hop and the sentences don’t even rhyme!

This is turning out to be more difficult than I had anticipated. It’s my first time. So, I’m not sweating it too much… instead I’m listening to some experts for inspiration.

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Next assignment: WRITE rap lyrics


My poetry group is taking on the challenge of writing rap lyrics for our next meeting. How do I start?

I have written about rap subject and flow in this blogspace so I know that these are the foundation and building blocks of the lyrics, respectively. As I write the words to express my subject matter, the flow (rhythm and rhyme) that I develop will be my signature style for the piece (not much different than if I am writing a traditional poem or fiction or essay, etc).

As a modern poet, I write free verse so one of my challenges is to rhyme. The other challenge is to find the right beat. I’ll use the traditional 4 beats scheme as a starting point and vary the beat as needed.

In addition to a compelling beat, I’ll need a hook for my song. This is usually the chorus which further expands on the subject matter and gets the listener’s attention, i.e., hooks them into the song. The verse forms the rest of the structure of the song.

As a newbie to the form, I’ll use How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC book by Paul Edwards as a reference for tips and tricks from him and from many of the rap artists that he interviewed for his book.

Last but not least, I need to listen to hip-hop if I’m going to imitate the style. If you have a favorite hip-hop song, I’m open to recommendations.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2011 in hip hop, lyrics, poetry, rap, sound, write rap lyrics

 

Rap Content: subject matters


“Often, hip-hop lyrics focus on topics that can be controversial, such as violence, sex, drugs, alcohol, power, and money. These forces are sometimes said to have a negative impact on society, but artistically speaking they are inherently attention-grabbing subjects—which is why numerous classic hip-hop albums have revolved around them and will continue to do so,” from How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC book by Paul Edwards.

Rap might have a reputation of controversial content but so does a lot of good poetry. For example,  American poet Charles Bukowski did not let controversy interfere with the unedited expression of his thoughts.

Controversial or otherwise, all art forms have a subject and rap is no exception. Depending on the artist, the subject matters range from real-life and fictional stories to conscious and controversial topics. Of course, some lyrics are written solely for the purpose of entertainment at clubs and parties.

The subject of hip-hop lyrics is expressed via various styles (or “form” as it’s know in hip-hop). A popular form is where MCs have a word battle by bragging about a specific topic.Other example of rap forms are conceptual, musical, abstract, and humorous.

In addition to the consideration of subject matter and form, rappers use poetry tools like imagery, similes, metaphors, analogies, slang vocabulary, wordplay, and punch lines.

Spawning from a tradition of poetry, rap uses many poetic methodologies to bring the spoken-word to the masses, something that Western poets have previously only been able to do by translating the spoken-word charm of poetry to songs.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2011 in art, hip hop, lyrics, poetry, rap, sound