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Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide

Writing and Public Speaking

How to Write Rap Lyrics

Rap music is a combination of musical beats and poetry. You should approach writing rap lyrics like you would approach the process of writing poetry. To write good rap lyrics, you'll need to combine interesting subject matter with a clever lyrical delivery.

Write about subjects you know intimately. The best rap songs are born out of personal experience. Think about things in your real world for inspiration, whether it's the death of a loved one, family conflict or societal injustice.

Vary your meter and phrasing. The simple, repetitive rap beats will provide a solid foundation upon which a rapper can create incredibly complex polyrhythmic flourishes with his lyrics. Try to avoid writing rhythmically stagnant verses with rigid meters.

Write all the time. Successful rappers are constantly coming up with phrases, rhymes or lyrical ideas. Keep a notebook handy throughout the day so you can scribble down ideas whenever inspiration strikes.

Become an observer. Be sensitive to people and conflicts that surround you at all times. You should always be searching for lyrical inspiration by paying close attention to what's happening in your world.

Create a simple chorus that encapsulates the themes and ideas of your song. The best choruses are short and catchy. You'll want your audiences to be singing along at the top of their lungs every time your chorus is played on the radio.

Come up with a unique turn of phrase or wordplay. Think of clich├ęs or familiar phrases and find clever ways to put fresh spins on them.

Employ literary devices like similes, metaphors and onomatopoeias. While the themes and content of your rap lyrics are important, you should spend an equal amount of time on the style and delivery. Consider how much wordplay goes into the single Jay Z line, "You know the type: loud as a motorbike, but they wouldn't bust a grape in a fruit fight."

Build rhymes within individual lines. Unlike rock or country lyrics, rap lyrics don't limit rhymes to the end of each line. By incorporating a series of rapid-fire rhymes within a single line of a verse, rappers give themselves plenty of opportunities to create fast-paced rhythmic syncopations and patterns.

Celebrate alliteration. In addition to rhymes, many rappers get a lot of creative mileage out of alliteration. Try and repeat the initial consonant sounds with as many words as possible within a single lyrical passage.

Read lyrics from great rappers carefully. Visit sites like SearchLyrics.org for a master class in the most popular rap lyrics ever written (see Resources below). Take notes on techniques and styles used by successful rappers.

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