Next assignment: WRITE rap lyrics

15 Jun

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.


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


2 responses to “Next assignment: WRITE rap lyrics

  1. Hao Nguyen

    June 15, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    the book you’re reading – How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC – is a fantastic introduction to writing rap lyrics.

    as for song recommendations, I’d suggest the following tracks:

    Nas – the world is yours (classic ’94 stuff from one of the greatest poets of hip-hop)
    Kool Moe Dee – i go to work (Kool Moe Dee is one of the early pioneers of breaking rap down as an artform)
    Naughty By Nature – O.P.P. (definition of a catchy hook)

    also, anything by Common, Pete Rock & CL Smooth and A Tribe Called Quest.

    have fun and good luck with it!



  2. JimW

    July 2, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    “Way of Life” by Dead Prez is one of my favorites


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