Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rappers: How To Make It In An Oversaturated Industry

If you are choosing to become a rapper, you should realize that it is a very serious undertaking. A rap career is not for everyone. Famous rappers like Eminem, Wiz Khalifa, Kid Cudi, and Nicki Minaj have spent years perfecting their craft to get where they are today. In the music industry there are no guarantees that you will be successful, however if you are looking to become apart of the elite group of hip hop artists, here are a few easy tips to follow.

1. Study Rap Music
If you’re new to hip hop or rap music, you should start listening to classic hip hop songs. This will allow you to become familiar with the history of rap music as well some of the old school rappers who were hiphop pioneers.

Carefully study the lyrics, beats, instrumentals, rhyme schemes, and delivery of these classic rap songs. You may even want to buy some old hip hop albums.

Suggested Old School Rappers
Biggie Smalls (Notorious B.I.G.)
Wu-Tang Clan
Snoop Dogg
Big Pun
Tech N9ne
Too short
Bone Thugs N Harmony
Eightball (8ball) & Mjg
Master P

Female Rappers
Lil Kim
Lauryn hill
Missy Elliot

After in-depth study of old school hiphop, you will want to put together a list of current top rappers that you might enjoy listening to. These new rappers will be your second point of reference in your study of rap music. Study these MCs as well. They do not have to necessarily be popular rappers.

Suggested New Rappers List 
West Coast Rappers
Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA)
Lil B
Kendrick Lamar

Dirty South Rappers
Waka Flocka Flame
Big K.R.I.T.

East Coast Rappers
J. Cole
Wiz Khalifa
Fred the Godson

Midwest Rappers
Big Sean

Femcees (Female rappers)Boog Brown
Audra The Rapper
Jean Grae
Amanda Diva
Liv L’Raynge
Nicki Minaj
Snow Tha Product
(Note: This list is can and constantly does change)

2. Learn How To Rap
For many beginning hip hop MCs the next step is to hone your rap skills and learn how to rap.

Write A Rap

Start by practicing writing your raps on paper. A music artist’s greatest tools are a pen and a note pad. Your previous studies will have given you some preparation on how to begin songwriting, but now it is time to apply your knowledge.

Some of the biggest inspirations for great rap songs come from life experiences. Write about an experience you had in life using simple rhyming words. Ideally you would want to find a hip hop instrumental or rap beat to practice to. Find a beat that has a tempo you are comfortable with to begin writing your rap song.

 In general you will want to structure your rap song in the following format:
Introduction (Lyrics included at rappers discretion)
Verse (typically 12-16 bars)
Hook or Chorus (generally) 8 bars
Hook or Chorus again
Verse or Bridge (usually half of the first or second verse but not in all cases)
Final Hook/ Chorus
Outro (Lyrics included at rappers discretion)

Simple Rap Example Using Rhyming Words:
On the way to the corner store
A man’s knees hit the floor
Wasn’t cuz of Jesus though
That bullet hit him in his skull.

As you advance in your rap career you will begin to explore literary elements of rap beyond simple rhyming words.

Some of these elements include:

After you write your rap you will want to begin practicing saying what you’ve written out loud. You will want to do this many times until you perfect it.

Factors that will play into your raps as you say them out loud are:
Vocal Presence
Charisma / Character also known as Swagger

3. Choose A Rapper Name

When pick your rap name it should be a name that you are comfortable having for a while. As you progress and become a better hip hop MC your fans will remember your name. You want to avoid frequently changing your rap name to eliminate confusion among your fans and other recording artists.

Be creative when choosing your rap name. Give it character. Your rap name will act as a branding and marketing tool. Make it memorable; keep it simple and future-proof.

Brainstorm a list of 25-50 descriptive words about yourself or rap character. From these words come up with 10 potential rap names. From these 10 names choose the best 3 names.

Next you will want to check to see if these 3 names are:
A. Search Engine Friendly
Will your name pop up near the top of search engine queries?

B. Trademarked
Is the rap name trademarked by someone already?

If your rapper name does not meet the aforementioned guidelines repeat your brainstorming process and complete the steps again. If your name does pass these tests, choose 1 and stick with it.

4. Keep Rapping
You should practice rapping and applying the previously mentioned rap tips as much as possible. If you’re serious about becoming one of the top rappers in hip hop, you should practice rapping as if it were your religion. If you can hone your rap skills for at least one hour a day for a year, you will be on your way to becoming a better hip hop MC.

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