Getting started as a rapper is different for everyone. Some people pick it up by listening to tunes. Others have a friend who raps and can help them, while some learn the basics. After working with rap for a long time, we’ve come to recognise the essential starting points at VIP.
The first big step is coming up with an idea of what you want to write about. Sometimes you might get an idea from a beat that you’re listening to, or come up with something you want to write a track about. The important thing is that you start to think about what you want to say, as well as how best to make it interesting to the people listening to it.
Some classic rap subjects include where you live, political issues, family, music and life in general – but, to be honest, you can write about pretty much anything you like. The main thing is that you have something to say about it. It’s also better to pick something unique, unusual or weird that interests you, rather than doing exactly what everybody else has done before, just because you think you have to. For example, here is a wicked Grime track about school. It’s not your typical subject:
Here’s the beat from that track, so that you can get started writing your own version of it! We’ve also included the a capella (a file with just the rap) so that any aspiring producers out there can have a go at making their own remix of it. If you have a login to VIP, you’ll find there’s a tutorial showing you how to do just that. There will be e-prizes for both!
Right click on the link above and choose ‘Save link as’ to download the MP3s.
Once you have your idea for a song, start by coming up with some words that go with it. For example, if I decide I’m going to write a song about school, I might have a list of words, such as ‘teachers’, ‘lessons’, ‘lunchtime’, ‘mates’, ‘school bus’ etc. Getting these words together can really help to get you started.
When you write lyrics, it also helps to have a vibe in mind – before you even start thinking about what rhymes and what words to use. Will you rap it in a positive or an angry way? The Eyez track above is delivered in a fun, nostalgic mood, as he’s thinking about when he was young. A lot of artists create a character to write as.
Next, you want to find some rhymes for your list of words. Here is a video that will show you a cool way of finding lots of words that rhyme easily. Watch the film and apply the method to your own words. Again, for my example, I would take the words about school I had found, and use this technique to find rhymes for them.
Once you have your idea, some words that rhyme, and an idea of the vibe of the track, it’s time to put it all together into a verse. Most raps are 8, 16 or 32 bars – and sometimes 64 bars if you’re really going for it! All this really means is that there are 8, 16, 32 or 64 lines with a rhyme at the end. Here’s a video that shows you a cool technique to get your bars sorted out and aligned to the beat.
So you now have an idea, some rhyming words and a technique to fit them together – the basics of writing a rap. The big thing to remember is that telling the story in your song is the most important thing. Don’t just use rhymes for the sake of it. Get rid of any words that don’t add to your story or make sense; even if they’re great rhymes. For example, if I’ve decided to write my track about ‘school’, a lot of beginners might start writing something about ‘pool’, just because it rhymes. Try not to do this and experiment with other words that fit the topic – ‘classroom’, ‘lesson’, ‘form’ etc. Make sure you stick to your topic.
When you’ve written some lyrics, log into VIP and upload your tracks by clicking on the ‘Send us your tracks’ button. If you don’t have a login, send them on over to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will be an e-voucher for the top 5 we pick out each month! This will be judged by Eyez himself, so it’s also an amazing opportunity to get heard by a famous artist.
Don’t worry if you’re just starting out either; we want to hear from everyone. You can use VIP to record your rapping or singing with the in-built microphone on your computer or an Xbox headset. If you don’t have a login, don’t worry. Just record it on your phone, tablet or in whatever way you like, and send us your tracks. We will listen to all music submitted and promise to post the best ones up on the site for you to share. Tracks must be suitable for daytime radio play of course. Good luck!
If you are a teacher and would like to try VIP Studio Sessions free for 30-days we offer a trial for schools and to those who work with young people.