The future of music

How to Rap for Beginners

December 29, 2023
how to rap

If you want to improve your rapping skills, you’ve come to the right place.

Besides showing you how to rap, we’ll help you get started with writing your own rhymes.

And we will provide you with some tips on how to become a rapper.

How to Rap – 7 Steps

Although the best rappers in the industry make it sound like it’s easy, rapping can be very difficult.

It’s a combination of speech, poetry, and song, and it takes a lot of time and practice to get it right.

Nevertheless, the most important thing is to get started.

You’ll never know how difficult or not rapping is unless you try.

And you’ll never know what you’re capable of.

1. Learn the Basics 

If you want to learn how to rap, you first need to understand that every rapper has their own way.

And every successful rap artist started out differently.

That said, you don’t have to follow these steps in this exact order.

However, before digging into rapping techniques and styles, you should first learn the fundamentals of rap.

Rap is a wide music genre, and it has changed a lot over the years, along with technology, trends, and the music industry in general.

But if you want to become a rapper, you need to know where it all started.

You can look for interesting articles, movies, books, and podcasts that tackle different aspects of the genre and introduce you to its history.

Or you can learn more through the biographies of your favorite artists and idols.

Now, you don’t need to learn in-depth history – but learning about the beginnings of rap will help you understand what rap is all about.

guy wearing jacket while rapping

It’s actually very interesting how it all started and evolved over the decades.

Rap as a genre began at block parties in New York City in the early 1970s, and rap songs were basically created when DJs started isolating the percussion breaks of funk, soul, and disco songs.

And that’s how rap eventually became a genre defined as a musical form composed of rhythmic speech, rhymes, figurative language, and street vernacular.

The genre, of course, changed a lot over the years, and it started to be divided into a variety of subgenres and styles, such as gangsta rap, boom bap, G-funk, and so on.

So if you want to improve your rapping skills, you should familiarize yourself with different styles.

That way, you can get inspired and rap along to tunes that suit you best.

2. Immerse Yourself in the Genre

If you want to learn how to become a better rapper, you’re probably interested in the genre.

But did you really try to dig deeper and pay attention to the songs?

When listening to your favorite artists, try to think about the elements that make their songs so compelling, catchy, and powerful.

And try to pay attention to their rapping style, expression, rhymes, and beats. 

But don’t stick only to your favorite rappers – you need to keep exploring and listening to lesser-known acts and styles.

Many popular artists like Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Missy Elliott, and Nas can show you what’s trendy in the hip-hop and rap genres.

But old-school rappers like Tupac Shakur, Kurtis Blow, and LL Cool J can show you a different side of the genre.

guy sleeping while wearing headphone

Don’t forget to explore different regions too –  New York-style “boom-bap” is different from West Coast gangsta rap.

You can also discover more about the genre from your own region, regardless of where you live.

It’s also interesting to see how rap evolved in different countries around the world.

All in all, try to immerse yourself in the rap genre and culture and find the way that suits you best.

Whether you want to discover new artists or watch hip-hop documentaries is entirely up to you.

The important thing is to expand your knowledge and find inspiration.

That’s arguably the best way to start out as a rapper. 

3. Learn How to Emulate

As we mentioned before, learning how to rap takes time and practice.

But before you develop your skills and learn how to create rhymes and beats, you can learn how to emulate.

For starters, you can pick a simpler song you love and try to imitate the artist. 

Pay attention to the words, how they’re shaped, and what’s emphasized.

You can also record yourself rapping over their words to keep track of your progress.

And don’t forget to have fun – it’s often the energy and attitude that make a good performance.

While emulating and performing your favorite tunes, you’ll already be working on your rapping skills.

And when you reach the point where you feel more comfortable and confident, you can start dissecting the songs and dig deeper into each element. 

4. Learn Rhythm

One of the most important elements of every rap song is rhythm.

So, you should listen to rap music once again, but this time pay attention to the beat – try to ignore the words, and try to notice the song’s rhythmic feel and patterns.

Maybe you already have an internal rhythm and flow that can help you understand how rhythm in hip-hop music works.

But this is also something that can be developed.

For instance, you can consider beatboxing as a way to learn rhythm – this form of vocal percussion can be a fun tool to help you improve your skills.

Plus, beatboxing might become your go-to technique once you start writing your own songs.

Either way, you should pay attention to rhythm as much as you can and try to get in tune with it.

Rhythm plays a huge role in hip-hop music, and understanding it more deeply will ultimately make you a better rapper. 

5. Write Your Own Songs

Once you master the basics of rapping, you can begin writing your own lyrics.

Writing lines that rhyme is not easy though.

But you can start by writing simple rhymes and lines, just to see how everything fits together.

woman writing on notebook

With time, you’ll get fresh ideas.

But until you learn how to write rap rhymes, you can go through the following steps to make your creative process easier:

See also: How to Write a Song

5.1. Choose a topic

First and foremost, you should choose the topic of your song.

And don’t worry if you have a lot to say – you’ll have plenty of time for everything.

But in the beginning, focus on one or two topics and a general message you want to convey.

Choose a subject you’re passionate about, or you can think about some relevant issues you’re interested in. 

The topic you choose will lay the groundwork for your rhymes, and it will be easier for you to complete the next steps. 

5.2. Choose the song’s structure

Selecting a song’s structure is another important step in this preparatory phase.

If you’ve been listening to a lot of rap music, this part will probably be rather intuitive.

Nevertheless, you should learn more about common structures in hip-hop music and decide what works best for you.

Most rap songs consist of three basic parts: intro, chorus (hook), and verses. 

Some songs also start with a hook, and you might come across some other elements too; but if you stick to these three essential parts, you’ll be sure to write a well-structured song that makes sense to most listeners.

5.3. Write down some lyrics

Once you have your song’s subject and structure ready, you can start writing down some lines, words, and rhymes.

It doesn’t have to make sense in the beginning – simply put some ideas on paper and see where that leads you.

Alternatively, you can look at your chosen structure and take it one step at a time.

Learning what each element usually requires is also helpful.

For instance, a chorus usually has a good hook – something catchy and unique, and something that will remain in the listener’s mind.

There are many ways you can approach writing rap rhymes, and you just need to find a style and approach that suits you best.

But until that happens, you should practice and write as much as you can – there are no bad ideas in the beginning, and you need to be ready to write some bad songs to get to the really good ones.

All successful rappers had to start somewhere, and their biggest rap hits are simply the result of years of dedication and hard work. 

5.4. Make your own beats

Besides writing lyrics, it’s time to start making your own beats.

After all, a good rap song is a combination of good rhymes and a catchy beat.

But you don’t have to stick to common beats and rhythm to make a good song – explore different sounds and styles and make something that resonates with you personally.

Although you’re just starting out, your song should resonate with your musical identity – it should reflect who you want to be as an artist. 

guy recording a song

To make a beat and record the whole song, you can reach out to a producer or a fellow rapper who knows someone who owns a recording studio.

Alternatively, you can create your own beats at home.

Thankfully, with many great beat-making software programs out there, you can create a beat without hassle even if you’re a beginner.

Entry-level beat maker programs are flexible and easy to use, and they offer extensive collections of samples, beats, and sounds ideal for the hip-hop genre.

But these programs also allow you to create your own unique beats – you can do it digitally, or you can record instruments – it all depends on your goals and skills.

Nevertheless, learning how to make a good beat takes time.

Plus, music is very subjective, and you need to find your own workflow and your own path.

But there are several steps you can keep in mind to make your beat-making process more smooth and enjoyable:

  • Define the vibe of your song first
  • Find a good DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and take your time to get comfortable with it
  • Create a bassline
  • Add drums and melodic elements
  • Finalize your track
  • Mix and master

See also: How to Record Songs at Home

5.5. Hone your skills 

Being a good rapper is not only about writing lines and creating beats.

As a rapper, you need to know how to put words together with rhythm, rhyme, and patterns of meaning.

You also need to become familiar with cadence, imagery, and pentameter.

In other words, there are many things to learn – so once you’re ready to dig deeper, you should certainly start exploring more about different techniques and styles.

6. Develop Your Own Style

It’s true – rapping and writing your own rhymes is not easy, and there are many elements and details to think about.

But the more you practice, the easier it gets.

And with enough time and practice, you’ll find out what style and subgenre of rap suits you best.

More importantly, you’ll start developing your own style.

Your favorite rappers and other hip-hop legends probably influenced you a lot, and that’s normal and perfectly fine.

But what you’ll realize as you gain more experience is that you do have an authentic approach to rapping and writing songs.

So, be patient and persistent, and this step will happen to you naturally.

Rapper performing at a concert.

Although you’ll undoubtedly find your own rapping style, you shouldn’t stop improving your skills and expanding your knowledge.

On the contrary – if you want to become a skilled rapper, you need to practice a lot.

And you should try to write every day.

Also, you need to learn how to rap effectively, and that includes paying attention to the rhythm as well as lyrics, working on your articulation, and so on.

When practicing rapping, you should also pay attention to the following elements and techniques:

  • Stressing the consonants
  • Keeping the words clear
  • Adjusting the volume of your voice
  • Always thinking ahead (visualizing your next line)

7. Take the Next Step

Once you learn how to rap and start developing your own rapping style, you can start thinking about your next step.

The best way to approach this is to think about your goals and dreams.

You can ask yourself the following questions:

Do you want to pursue a career in music and enter the music industry? 

Do you want to become a rap artist and get a record deal?

Or do you want to earn money from your music in other ways – by selling your beats, writing for others, and so on?

Once you determine your career goals, you can plan your next steps.

But regardless of what you choose, there are several things you can do to achieve your goals more easily.

7.1. Perform

First of all, you should start performing, and you should perform live as much as you can.

If you want to turn your hobby into your job, you need to be proactive and look for gigs and opportunities.

Freestyle battles are also a great opportunity to show off your skills.

And freestyle battles can also help you make connections, get fresh ideas, and gain valuable information on recent trends and news from the music industry. 

Either way, performing in front of an audience is important for showcasing your skills and talent as well as building your confidence. 

7.2. Build an online presence

Another way to show off your rapping skills is to share your music online.

In fact, you should try to build a powerful online presence.

The best way to share your hip-hop songs online is to find a reliable music distribution platform.

That way, you can distribute your music while keeping creative rights.

But you should also consider using music marketing strategies:

  • Create a website for your music
  • Be active on social media (Instagram, Facebook, TikTok…)
  • Develop a social media strategy 
  • Create a YouTube channel
  • Reach out to content creators and influencers
  • Reach out to playlist curators
laptop and notebook

Gaining exposure and getting yourself noticed is important if you want to build a career as a rapper.

There are countless other artists trying to do the same thing, so you need to find ways to stand out from the crowd.

And in this day and age, building a strong online presence is the best way to get yourself noticed and grow an audience.

7.3. Ask for feedback

Once you share your songs on the Internet, you’re probably going to get a lot of comments and feedback.

But you should also seek out feedback from someone experienced and professional as well as from active listeners who can give you valuable, constructive feedback.

Getting feedback on your music will ultimately help you work on your weak spots and improve your rapping skills.

The important thing is to reach out to people who you respect and trust and ignore the bad comments you might get online.

How to Get Better at Rapping 

Whether you want to enter the music industry or simply get into rap music as a hobby, you can use certain techniques and exercises to improve your rapping skills.

Freestyle

For example, you can try to freestyle – freestyle rap is a style of improvisation that is usually used in rap battles.

Freestyling might seem intimidating at first, but there are some tips and tricks you can use to get things started:

  • Listen to lots of freestyling
  • Start with a beat
  • Don’t overthink
  • Play with words
  • Keep going – even if you make a mistake

Learning how to freestyle will ultimately make you a better rapper because it will boost your creativity, improve your technique, and build your confidence.

To get better at freestyling and rapping in general, you should also try to write and read as much as you can.

Write down your thoughts and ideas, and read articles and books to expand your vocabulary.

woman getting a book

You can even get a rhyming dictionary – this might become your go-to creative resource when you feel stuck or unmotivated. 

But even if you feel like your rhymes are not enough, you shouldn’t give up.

Becoming a great rapper is all about practice, practice, practice.

How do you think Twista and Busta Rhymes managed to perform all those super fast rap songs?

They worked – and they worked hard.

That said, try to incorporate writing and rapping into your daily routine.

You can also do rhyming exercises – for instance, you can find a random subject (like a random animal, food, feeling, etc) and write a song about it. 

Can You Teach Yourself to Rap?

Rapping is a skill – therefore, it can be developed and improved.

Yes, some people will get the rhythm and write down rhymes more easily than others.

But that doesn’t mean you should give up if you feel incompetent.

The truth is, anyone can learn how to rap.

And there are many effective ways to teach yourself to rap.

For starters, you can follow the steps we explained above, learn the basics, and start creating – and see how it goes.

You can also consider taking an online rapping course.

There are many great courses and programs out there, and they are focused on a variety of topics and skills, including beat-making, songwriting, music production, and so on.

You just need to find a program that fits your goals, interests, and learning style. 

How to Become a Rapper 

If you want to start a career as a rapper, you need to be very patient and persistent.

The thing is, hip-hop and rap songs are dominating the charts now, and there are new rappers emerging on the scene all the time.

So, how to become a successful new rapper in an oversaturated music industry, and how hard is it to become a professional rapper?

Work on your skills and look for opportunities 

Well, becoming a professional musician is hard, whether it’s rap or rock music.

You need to find a way to get yourself noticed and stand out from the crowd, and you need to be completely dedicated to making music and performing.

But if your dream is to become a famous rapper, there’s no reason why you can’t make it happen.

guy on a stage looking up

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, you should learn more about the genre before doing anything else.

And you need to master the basics and start creating music.

When you feel confident in your skills, you should start looking for opportunities.

You can do that by looking for rap battles, music events, festivals, conferences, and anything related to rap music.

Network and build a good reputation

Networking is an important part of the music business, and meeting fellow rappers, musicians, producers, and other people from the music industry will help you gain valuable information and advice.

But networking will also help you advance your career and find new opportunities.

And once you come across an opportunity, you need to be ready.

Therefore, you should have your EPK (Electronic Press Kit) ready, and your websites and social media accounts should be all nice and updated. 

You can also record a mixtape or demo and include the link on your website, or you can take it one step further and shoot a music video and release it on your YouTube channel.

In other words, if you want to enter the music industry, you need to get your music out there, and you need to start working on your musical personality.

And there are different ways to do that – from getting an agent and a record deal to finding a good music distribution platform that will help you release your music on all the relevant streaming platforms.

Take it one step at a time, and everything will turn out fine in the end.

And don’t forget to create meanwhile – it all comes down to the quality of your music and your performance.

Being a Professional Rapper – Challenges and Rewards

There are many career paths you can take if you want to become a rapper.

But what does it mean to be a professional rapper, and what are the required skills and qualifications?

man rapping with a bandana.

As we explained before, there’s no single best way of learning how to rap and entering the music industry.

You need to hone your skills and find a way to show off your skills and talent in a way you see fit.

And the exact responsibilities and qualifications depend on the type of career path you’re interested in.

But generally, you should consider the following skills/qualifications if you want to become a successful rapper:

  • Rapping skills 
  • Branding and marketing
  • Understanding the music industry
  • Communication/networking skills

The thing is, being a professional rapper comes with many responsibilities.

Of course, it all depends on your career choice, but generally, the responsibilities and jobs of a professional rap artist usually include:

  • Making music (writing lyrics, putting words together with rhythm, making beats)
  • Performing live
  • Recording
  • Touring
  • Collaborating with other artists

Becoming a rap artist is an exciting journey for sure, and it’s definitely not an easy one.

But it’s also very rewarding.

Rap and hip-hop music is dominating the music industry, which means you can start to earn quite a lot of money if you build a fan base.

So how much money does a rapper make?

According to Comparably, a rapper makes $60,000 on average – but if we’re talking about small and indie rappers, the number is significantly lower.

But being a successful rapper comes with many other benefits.

First of all, you can earn a living by focusing on your passion.

And you can collaborate with other artists, meet interesting people, tour around the world, get involved in exciting creative projects… The list goes on and on.

How to Rap for Beginners – Final Thoughts 

Learning how to become a rapper might seem challenging, but if you’re passionate about rap music, you’ll enjoy the whole process.

To improve your rapping skills, you need to immerse yourself in the genre, learn the rhythm, and start writing your own rhymes.

You should also find a good beat-making program and create your own beats.

The important thing is to create, explore, and practice – and if you keep at it, you’ll see the results before you know it.

You may also like: How to Make a Music Demo

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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