In the hip-hop world they say that the best rappers aren’t just rappers, they’re lyricists. They spit their rhymes to tell a story that flows. They use metaphors and similes to play with their words. They demand your attention with lyrics that not only entertain, but tell a story that is so compelling it feels like you’re experiencing it in real time.
Tupac’s Brenda’s Got a Baby tells the story of a 12-year-old girl in the hood whose pregnancy forces her into prostitution and the drug game.
Eminem’s Stan tells the story of an obsessive fan who kills himself and his girlfriend after not receiving a reply from his favorite rapper Eminem.
Ludacris’s Runaway Love tells the story of multiple young girls who are the victims of rape, domestic violence, drugs, and other horrifying realities that attack Black communities.
All of these tell stories that do a lot more than just rhyme to a beat.
If you want to be a lyricist the first thing that you need to know is that it isn’t about rhyme scheme or beats. It’s about imagery, metaphors, essentiality, and intentionality. Nothing a lyricist does is unintentional.
- Every rap starts with a story; it’s the most important part. The song is just the medium for expressing the story, but the most important part of the song is that the reader feels as if they are there and connected to the narrative thus, some of the most common conventions of raps (rhyme schemes, choruses, hooks, etc.) may be broken in order to prioritize the story.
- After the story comes the style. What makes rappers unique is that everyone’s style is different. Every piece of the song must be carefully constructed to drive home the purpose of the story, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be chronological or even grammatically correct. Some artists choose to preview the end of the story to capture the listens’ attention while others tend to build up their reader’s anticipation. This is your chance to be YOU. Take risks. Be adventurous. Allow your creativity to shine.
- After the story comes the chorus. The key is to make it short and sweet, so that it doesn’t take away from the narrative. Even still the chorus must be catchy enough to grasp the listener (yes, it’s as difficult as it sounds).
If you need more help becoming a lyricist check out what listener’s of rap say about what it takes.
As unartistic as I am, I plan to make a rap using these three easy steps. The easy part is that I already have my memoir from experiment 1, which I will convert to a rap in order to attract the same audience and hopefully broaden it. Educational research shows rap music as an effective way to reinforce learning therefore, I hope that my rap song will serve as way to reiterate the lessons taught in my memoir and in the end, encourage youth who’ve endured a lot to look past their struggles. I hope that with my story being in the form of a song it will broaden my audience and in turn, attract students who do not enjoy reading.