If You Rap, Hit Me Up

If you rap, no matter who you are/how good you are, I want to make beats for you.

Here’s the deal. I’m a little tired of the current state of things in the music world – lately, I cannot for the life of me figure out why things are done the way they are right now. So here’s what we’re gonna do.

Below are the links to three different beats I made on my soundcloud page. If you go there, you can download them (for free.)

Links To The Beats

I want you to download them, and write raps over them. All the beats right now are all instrumental. They are each about 8 minutes long, of the same section of beat over and over. This is to facilitate you writing raps over them. I want you to download them, listen to the beat over and over, and write verses. When you have, email me the raw vocal audio information at mepc36@gmail.com. I will take the vocals and put them on the song. I will tailor the beat to be specifically fit to your version of the vocals, such as where drops are.

Because here’s the thing, and how it differs from how things are done right now: I’m not gonna screen the verses that go on the beats, and I’m not gonna restrict the beat to just one, final, “official” version. That’s why the beat is in such a rough state right now. I have a ton of other musical ideas to put over them (like an electric guitar one for the rhythmic spaces beat), but they aren’t in there yet. Also, the mixes are a little rough. Thus, the beat is incomplete, and it is greatly in your interest for you to email me your verses rather than just steal the beat. This is so I can fill the beat out. Also, you might get sued*. (See footnote for more information.)

Now, you have two options. You can 1.) Write whatever the hell you want over the beats, or 2.) Follow the rough guidelines I give below for what I want to hear in the song. The second option will make you a better rapper definitively and make me pay more attention to your stuff. If this goes well, we will all want to collaborate in the future. But below is just to give you some idea of what I’m looking for. (Also, these names for the beats are just temporary, and obviously can be whatever you want.)

For any of the 3 beats, the one you like best, try to do this:

       I want the form to be
really specific. I want it to be a freestyle – that means, no real
chorus, at least not like the ones you hear on the radio, where the
verse and chorus are obviously really different. For instance, not like
Biggie’s “hypnotize.” I want what I’m calling the Kendrick Lamar
freestyle form. Listen a lot to “Backseat Freestyle” from “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” (you can hear it here,) or
“Rigamortis” (heard here) from Section 80. Notice how the verse leads really smoothly
into the hook (the repeated part “All my life…”) and then notice how
it moves from the hook back into the verse really easily on “Backseat Freestyle”. This is not just because of how Kendrick spits a verse/chorus that is both thematically and musically leads into and out of it, but also how the vocals are mixed. That is, the vocals, whether chorus or verse, are always centered. It’s the difference between how Eminem’s vocals in “The Way I Am” (able to be heard at this link here) sound and how the vocals in “Backseat Freestyle are mixed.” I will be mixing them like “Backseat Freestyle”.

     This also means you
gotta make the music flow over the bar line, and make the text
thematically very consistent – always be talking about the same thing.
Go to my blog and read the Kendrick Lamar GKMC analysis, to see what
I mean- scroll down until I’m talking about “elision.” That is, he changes the repeated part of the freestyle, the “hook”, on its final line the last time the hook is repeated and then goes to a different flow. That’s what I want you to do.
     
      To make music flow over the bar line, check out this transcription of Rakim’s “I Ain’t No Joke”. (Even if you can’t read music, you can still understand it.) Listen to the song here. Follow along to the song with the transcription. All of those little vertical lines separating words from each other, such as between “no” and “joke”, are called bar lines. These separate off things called bars, which is a measure of musical time just like a minute is a measure of chronological time. Look at those little slowly curving lines on the music as well, such as from “I” to “joke.” These mark off complete grammatical ideas, like sentences. They form the bigger units by which we understand the rap. Listen to how Rakim’s words, such as in the sentence, “I Ain’t No Joke”, all fall over the bar line. This makes the rap flow better by not stopping at such a natural break for the music, the bar line. He does this all over the song: “Cause you’ll get fried in the end, when you pretend to be competing…”,  “Cause I put your mind on pause” (completely inside the bar), “Remember me?”, and so on. Identify all the places where he does this in the song. This is how I need you to write.

This is because I’m not gonna change the essence of the background
beat. That doesn’t mean I won’t vary it – I’ll take parts in and out,
for instance take the organ out, put it back in – take the bass kick
out, and so on. Then, I’m gonna have a ton of unique musical ideas, like
I’ve got one for a funky guitar, but they’ll all just come and go once.
Think along the lines of Cool Kids beats, something like “Cool Kids’ “Action Figures” listen to how that synth idea comes and goes.

General Flows and Words/Stories/Text/Poetry I Really Like:

1. Jean Grae (song “Style Wars”)
2. Mos Def/Talib Kweli (song “RE: DEFinition”)
3. Eminem (song “We Ain’t”, his verse, not Game’s)
4. Busta Rhymes (song “Holla”)
5.  Kendrick Lamar (backseat freestyle from before, see above.)
6. Lauryn Hill (her verse, starting around 1:50, on the Fugees song “The Score”)

Generally, they’re heavy with rhymes, with quick rhythms, and they rap about dark, macabre stuff.

Again, email me at mepc36@gmail.com with the verses you come up with, and I’ll put them up on the blog. You can post them to where you want to, but PLEASE give me credit. You will want to do so for the reason below.

*Here’s why you really don’t want to just steal these beats and not give me credit: they are all registered with ASCAP, a musician’s union that will sue you for me to get me credit and royalties. Proof is provided below:

Martin Connor is a music teacher & writer from Philadelphia, PA, with a music degree of high distinction from Duke University who is currently studying for a master’s degree at Brandeis University in Boston, MA, while focusing his research on the vocal melodies of the rap genre. He has contributed freelance articles to HipHopDX, Complex, and Pigeons and Planes, and had multiple articles from his website, www.RapAnalysis.com go viral on BET, The Source, XXL, and MTV. He teaches rap lessons online through the music school LessonFace, and has a book, The Artistry Of Rap Music, forthcoming from the McFarland Publishing House, scheduled for release in late 2017, as a follow-up to his 2014 contribution to their anthology "Eminem & Rap, Poetry, Race." He welcomes all comments, compliments, insults, and restaurant suggestions at mepc36@gmail.com.

2 Comments

  1. I'm trying man, I'm trying! Props for all this analysis and stuff, I've been rapping since pre-grade 7 on-off and I really want to polish myself, whether it's just for me or not… although I'm currently in the midst of trying to perfect a song for my gf's bday next month!

    Anyway, I'll continue to sift through your (fantastic) writings and hopefully absorb some of your advice into my style

    – True Really

    1. Thanks man! Keep working on it, everyone's gotta start somewhere. Look up Eminem's early stuff, it's god-awful. Keep at it. Yeah, go through the writings, although they aren't specifically for aspiring rappers, they can still really help. Look at my Mos Def analysis and then my 2pac analysis to learn about pacing, that's one of the biggest things most "beginner" rappers don't have a handle of.

      Thanks again!

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