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The Rapper's Handbook You don't need a piano or a drum set, or money for guitar lessons. All you need is your voice and a desire to spit. A pad and pen. You'll find the guide below plus lessons on wordplay, punchlines, flow and more in The Rapper's Handbook. Also check out our rhyme boards, where emcees. Start by marking “The Rapper's Handbook: A Guide To Freestyling, Writing Rhymes, And Battling (By Flocabulary)” as Want to Read: From wordplay to punchlines, from metaphors to multisyllable rhymes, The Rapper's Handbook covers all the crucial elements of freestyling, writing.
T and Canibus, the buff rapper spent more time selfaggrandizing and band-standing then actually dissing his opponents. One way I can do this is I can figure out what specific part of the sun is hot. They just take extra effort. Consult the Wordplay chapter for more on how to create rhymes with wordplay. Historical References Some of the emcees who use the best historical references out there are underground rappers. It will expand your memory of rhyming words, and it will give you experience working these words into clever lines.
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The last person standing wins. Solo Variation: Think of a word and try to come up with as many 17 rhymes for it as you can in 1 minute. Then move on to another word and do the same. Play this game again a week later and do the same words. See if you can improve your score. The Circle of Lines Rules: Then it passes to the right. Each person has roughly five seconds to spit their line. Last person standing wins.
Spit as many lines as you can that all have the same rhyme. Group Raps Rules: The person who messes up steps out, or you can play non-competitively. High-speed internet access Rules: This is a favorite of mine. Get on your computer and put on a beat. You can listen to one of the hip-hop instrumentals on Flocabulary. The other people have to freestyle about whatever is on that webpage.
The operator can switch the page at anytime by searching for something else. The more random the searches are the better try stray dogs, lasagna, rollerskates, India, etc…. You can also do this with image searches and freestyle about the images. Freestyle Rap Games 19 Solo Variation: Do this yourself. Other Variations: You can easily play this kind of game without a computer. Just have one kid throw out random topics that you and your friends have to rhyme about. Or you can play this with the TV or radio on.
Rhyme about whatever you see or hear. Various lyrical techniques are tackled individually, crystallized into their component parts. You can read this section through all the way, or you can tackle individual sections separately. The suggested exercises are obviously optional, but will help you put the knowledge in these pages into your own rhymes. This whole section is based on analyzing the techniques used by the best emcees in the history of music. Developing your own ability to analyze will not only help you learn from your own favorite rappers who may or may not be mentioned in this book , it will also give you a tool for life.
Whatever you do professionally will tax your analytic skills too. People who are able to quickly study and quickly learn, are those that are most successful in every field.
Emcees included. It might sound obvious to some, but one of the best ways you can excel as an emcee is by picking better rhyming words. That right there is the dopest, most beautiful summary of what it is to be a rapper.
Slant Rhyme vs. Perfect Rhyme noun: Rhyme in which the final accented vowel and all succeeding consonants or syllables are identical, while the preceding consonants are different. This is what most people think of when they think rhyme. Examples of perfect rhyme are: For example: Those are all perfect rhymes.
Those are all examples of perfect rhyme. Perfect rhyme will work fine in a lot of situations. But hip-hop innovators and poets before them found Slant Rhyme 25 it too limiting.
Rappers began using slant rhyme to allow them more freedom to express themselves. Here is the definition of slant rhyme from the AHD: Slant Rhyme noun: A partial or imperfect rhyme, often using assonance or consonance only. Also called half rhyme, near rhyme, oblique rhyme, and off rhyme.
Here are a few: People overuse that rhyme like skeezy businessmen use too much cologne. In order to avoid that, all we need to do is use slant rhyme. Not unless you used slant rhyme.
You can find a list of slant rhymes for words with no perfect rhyme in Appendix III at the end of this book. The great thing about slant rhyme is that it helps you avoid one of most dangerous pitfalls for beginning emcees: So use slant rhymes to avoid falling into that trap.
Pro Example I see no changes wake up in the morning and I ask myself, is life worth living should I blast myself? Then go back and replace the rhyme words with slant rhymes and rewrite the verse. See how it changes your verse. Not everybody can catch the nuances of alliteration, word play, multi-syllabic rhyme schemes, internal rhyme, etc… but if they catch one thing and they can make sense of it and enjoy it then [you] have succeeded.
In a simple verse, the rhymes will fall only at the end of each line. In English class, when analyzing poetry, the rhyme scheme would be written out like this: There are no internal rhymes and there is no multi-syllabic rhyming. All of the rhymes fall right on or near the second snare kick, the 4th beat of the bar, which musicians call the four. This will be the system we use throughout the book. Rhyme Scheme Notation The method used in this book is to highlight matching rhymes by formatting them the same way.
By having only one rhyming word per line and placing it at the end of the line, it will free your mind up to craft some quality lines that make sense. In-rhymes and multies discussed later are great ways to introduce variation into your rhymes.
But you can also mix up your rhymes just by altering the rhyme scheme. In the Dead Prez example above, the rapper Sticman varies his rhymes throughout, so that you never know when the next rhyme sound is going to come at you.
Think outside the box. Not every single line has to rhyme. Using them is a sure-fire way to improve your rhymes. Like a subtle ingredient in a recipe, in-rhymes can add big punch without calling too much attention to themselves. Adding In-Rhyme In-rhymes are rhymes that fall within the line itself. They can rhyme on their own, or with any word in any other line. But I can easily change that. I can look for words to change that will create in-rhymes. Like this: See how much better that sounds?
Small changes make a big difference. Start the Next Line with In-Rhyme You can also use in-rhymes to rhyme with the words at the end of lines. For example, one common use is to start a line with a word that rhymes with the end of line before it. Plus he uses slant rhyme, inrhyme, and mutlis together. Take a few lines from the rapper Akir. Akir is gifted underground emcee doing his thing in NYC. I had the privilege of working with him on a Flocabulary track for the Hip-Hop U.
History album, which teaches American history through rap music. Akir came into our Times Square studio and I gave him a list of facts to incorporate into the rhyme. We put on a beat, and within minutes he had some sick rhymes to lay down. Try not to sacrifice the meaning of what you wrote just to fit in rhymes.
What are multies? Multies can be double, triple, quadruple etc… rhymes. Once a rare treat, multies are now being used in hiphop more and more frequently as lyricists constantly try to outdo each other. They just take extra effort. Spit multies, and get your vitamin C. Normal rhyme: I take the typical words, or I pick a two-word, three-word pattern. The other day I put Curb Your Enthusiasm in a rhyme.
Luda has a trademark delivery, in which he slows down and emphasizes the end of each line. This delivery works well when he slips in some clever multies. Slant rhymes are very important, because they allow you to write more creative lines.
The other problem with rhyming dictionaries is that they do the work for you. Multies are hallmarks of all the dopest flows, and all the best rappers use them. They are more complex and more impressive than normal rhymes and so command a lot more respect. Multies add variation to your verse and will help you craft better rhymes.
How do I write multies? Step one is to find a line that you want to start with. Take this line for example: The easiest way to do this is by 39 Perfect rhymes for navy: There are lots of combinations, so try to pick some that make some sense: Baby meals Wavy eels Lady squeals Gravy feels Weighty whales Then we pick one and write a line that makes sense: Or use a bunch of them in a row like this: If you master that simple technique, you should already notice your lyrical skills improving.
Practice This Take a common phrase or celebrity name i. Work the rhymes into some lines that make sense together. The general rule is this: Prominent vs.
For example, say this out loud: Today is the first day of the rest of my life The meter a map of which syllables are stressed and which are not would be something like this: Why Did I just Learn that?
For example, take this line: So these work: Mystical knee Listen to me Mess with the bees Then I just pick one and write a line to it: The line still flows. He uses the line: Some rappers especially underground rappers like to string together long as hell multies to impress their listeners. Take this line: We just need to rhyme with words, cut, and sharp. Using the process of rhyme generating described before we get: Cut out the weak stuff, and add more quality stuff.
Try to put more than one multi per line as Papoose and Eminem do in the following section. Who is the King of Multies? Without a doubt, one rapper uses multies more than any other, and that rapper is Eminem. In fact a lot of his sick flow comes from his creative use of multi rhymes. The ones below are just particularly strong examples. He also uses a lot of multies with the same rhyme pattern: How did he do that?
He probably wanted to write a rhyme making fun of Britney Spears, so he started with her name and started generating multies off of it. He could have used others, but he found some that matched what he was trying to say. The lesson: What he does here lyrically is all out amazing. He uses lots of multirhymes and in-rhymes, not seperately but together to weave a complex lyrical web. This verse is a string of 30 different multies that all have the same or similar rhyme. Some rappers use multies only occasionally, while others like Eminem rhyme almost exclusively with multies.
Try not to let multies control your rhymes. On the next page is a unique example of a verse that rhymes over and over again with the same multisyllable sound. The best rappers combine wordplay and metaphors to create amazing lines that people remember and tell their grandkids about. An instance of wordplay in rap is when words signify two or more different things that make sense in the context of the line.
Wordplay is literally just playing with the meanings of words. This is made possible by the fact that words in the English language and most languages can have multiple meanings.
Words can have multiple dictionary definitions, scientific definitions, colloquial definitions and slang definitions. The skilled rapper can bounce between these meanings to create a line that knocks a crowd off their feet. This is another way in which having a big vocabulary is a real benefit to your rhymewriting. Revive or ruin, my theories of mics, Sony or Aiwa, black or white, I fit in all stereotypes Creating Wordplay How are you supposed to write lines like that?
Step 1. Pay Attention to New Words Pay attention to words and their meanings in your life. Step 2. This is crucial because wordplay is based on messing around with multiple definitions. You could write it down, or do it in your head. Now go through each object and try to think if there are alternate meanings for that word. If there are, take note of them. In general, the more you train yourself to think this way, the more easily these double-meanings will come to you.
This is my list, with possible wordplay listed after each one: Bus — a bus is a big vehicle for moving people. A busboy busses tables; he clears them.
Driver — a driver is a person who is steering a car or bus. A driver is also the club you use in golf to hit the ball off the tee. But I did that with three random words. Seat — a place where you sit. A seat can also be a position on a board of trustees or committee. A member of congress also runs for a seat. Step 5. Study Slang You can also start with a slang word and look at the different meanings. A lot of slang terms have dictionary definitions along with their street definitions: Use Idioms You can also create wordplay by studying idioms.
Idioms are phrases in a language that have a meaning other than what they say literally. Idioms are a great place to start for wordplay because they inherently have double meaning.
Put It All Together Then just put it all together to write some lines: Your line should play with the idiomatic definition of the phrase and its literal definition. Then write some rhymes that feature your wordplay. On the Net A lot of netcees on the Flocab Rhyme Boards like to write out their lines by capitalizing their wordplay, italicizing it or adding weird symbols. Like this netcee: On the plus side it alerts everyone to your wordplay.
On the down side, it can make it harder to read the line straight through. Metaphors Time for metaphors: Metaphors are also one of the most basic things you can use to elevate your rhymes.
There are whole rappers Punchline, Wordsworth, and others who made a name for themselves almost exclusively on the strength of their metaphors. In other words, pay attention to this one. So what you got guns? You did time? Me and few million other people have too… Make it creative or get a therapist. In hip-hop, that definition gets even broader. A metaphor is basically a creative comparison between two things. Take a look at these much more impressive examples.
Some people differentiate between similes and metaphors. So those pro examples are actually similes? Well, technically they are. Not only are they very similar techniques, but the way that you write them is almost exactly the same.
They are similes. First there are simple metaphors. And then there are metaphors that involve wordplay. The latter are much more impressive. In fact the most impressive lines in the history of hiphop belong to rappers who created metaphors with wordplay.
So first think of the basic idea that you want to get across: It could be almost anything: It could be really simple: A rapper at a show A slam poet A nursery rhyme A limerick Now we just put the first together with something from the second. We get: The next step is to make it more Metaphors 61 specific and interesting.
I spit rhymes like T. Another Example: We could complete the rhyme without using another metaphor. But why not put in one more just to keep the crowd on their feet? Now Freda Kahlo was a famous Mexican painter who was a lesbian. So I can play around with those facts: I paint a picture of a Mexican like Freda Kahlo, or I like kissing women like… Freda Kahlo Both of those are metaphors and they work, but I want something even better.
So I go online and look up Freda Kahlo and I find this picture: Now we put them together: I can file that rhyme away in the back of my mind in case I ever have to battle someone with a unibrow. But the metaphors on their own are strong. In doing so, Kanye creates a metaphor with wordplay and a unique line. Tonedeff, a sick underground emcee who spits as fast as Twista, puts two metaphors in his bar, one after the other.
In one sense, his metaphor might be the strongest because the image of Brad Pitt as a black man stops every listener in his tracks. Metaphors with Wordplay You know those lines that make your jaw drop? Most of those lines feature metaphors that involve wordplay. This technique creates some of the most amazing and memorable lines in hip-hop. Start out with a simple statement. We can make it easy by choosing a phrase from the list of idioms see Appendix I.
I can even use two of them in a row like this: He also puts in simple metaphors to add to the overall complexity of the lines. Metaphors 67 Practice This Create some metaphors with and without wordplay.
Which are your favorites? Analyze why some of them are stronger than others. Combine your favorites in a dope verse. I was never really lazy in English.
I loved that class. I was never really lazy when it came to English. Everything else I hated, you know what I mean? Without words, a rapper is no different than a mime: Everyone has two vocabularies: Scientists say that in America the average adult vocabulary is between 10, — 20, words.
Having a big vocabulary will allow you to write on topic more easily, and will make it easier to write metaphors, wordplay, in-rhymes and multies. There are lots of ways to improve your vocabulary. Reading is crucial. The more you read, the more you come in contact with new vocabulary words being used in context.
When you come across a vocabulary word, either write it down or look it up straight away. We got some emcees together and created a hip-hop album that defines SAT vocabulary words on 12 tracks. The idea for that came to me in high school: More important than just spitting truly enormous words is spitting the correct word to fit your flow. Having a big vocabulary will allow you to find that correct word more easily.
Here are a few tips on what to do and what to avoid. One and two-syllable words are great for flow and easy to spit, but they can be used to express only so much. Notice the differences in word size between the two verses. They add depth and clarity to his lines. But when this technique is done right, the punches can hit hard, and it can have the crowd going wild. Take this amazing example from Talib Kweli. I had no idea what he was talking about.
It was only after I listened a few times, that I realized how amazing those two bars are. Practice This Go to Flocabulary. Make sure you understand their definitions, then write them into some lines. Try to make it feel organic. You know what I mean? You know the type? He never really makes the lines come alive. Take this example. It just talks really vaguely about rapping and making money. There are no specifics whatsoever.
Improving Vague Lines Take a line like this one: We can make it much stronger by making it more specific. One way I can do this is I can figure out what specific part of the sun is hot. I went to Wikipedia. It is the closest star to the planet Earth. Now I can take specific parts of that information and try to make them into lines: So I could probably carve a good line out of that.
Something like this maybe: Sometimes a simple line works best, but too many simple lines is monotonous and boring like listening to George Bush try to talk about foreign policy. References 79 Money vs.
Look how much better these lines are from some skilled rappers out there. Instead of just saying money, Kweli actually lists specific currencies from around the world. He even includes cowry shells, which are shells that were used for money in Ghana and elsewhere.
You could write something simple like this: But I can improve it by making it a lot more specific. The internet makes it really easy. Wikipedia is a good starting place.
This is obviously going to give me a lot more than just information for my raps. There are basically two types of references a rapper can use: As their names indicate, historical references talk about something that happened years ago, while cultural references talk about something that happened very recently or is still happening.
One subset of historical references is biblical references. Historical References Some of the emcees who use the best historical references out there are underground rappers. One of the best is Immortal Technique. His style is harder than most gangsta rappers, but he knows as much history as a historian. Basically, Immortal Technique is dropping a lot of knowledge. The lyrics are followed by a list of his references: Elijah Muhammad was the leader of the Nation of Islam, a religious and political group that Malcolm X joined and became the most prominent speaker for.
A comet that hit the Earth is what many scientists believed caused the mass extinction of the dinosaurs millions of years ago. Al-Aqsa is a mosque that is part of Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Here are some examples. Ask yourself: One way to do it, is to read through history books and the bible until you get to a passage that really interests you.
Then turn that fact or story into a few lines. For example, most people know the biblical story of David and Goliath. The Philistine army marches into southern Israel to attack the Isrealites. Instead of straight up attacking, though, they set up camp. The winner of the duel wins the war and the entire opposing army. The only person to step forward is David, a young boy equipped with only a sling and some stones. Goliath attacks, but David shoots a stone into his eye. The giant falls to the ground.
David later became King David. Try to use other techniques wordplay, metaphors as well. Cultural References In my opinion, Canibus won that bout.
His reference to Goliath was tight, but it was even nastier because he preceeded it with a reference to Forest Gump: As I mentioned in the freestyle tips, the sooner you can mention something the better. We live in a media saturated culture, so you truly have thousands of things to pick from.
Ludacris is one rapper who uses dozens of cultural references in practically every song. Part of what makes his lyrics funny is his combination of wordplay and cultural references.
Take a look at some lyrics from that song. Dora the Explorer is a cartoon character on a show aimed at preschoolers. Ice-T is a rapper and actor who now stars on Law and Order: Another emcee who uses cultural references for humor is Eminem. He often writes whole verses discussing various aspects of pop culture. Overall Use cultural and historical references to add depth, humor, and interest to your lines. Keep your lines specific, not vague. I want to be known as the most versatile MC out there.
Alliteration This is a simple technique that you probably learned about in English class when you were studying poetry, but it works well in rap. Here is the definition from the American Heritage Dictionary: Look at this example of a bar I saw some kid spit on the internet: Write a two lines where as many words as possible start with the letter A, then move on to B, etc… Rhyming Sounds Repeated While most rap verses use various different rhyme sounds, some of the illest verses out there have been written using one rhyme sound throughout the verse.
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