Mister Master – “Gloves On”

This week’s featured rapper is “Mister Master”, a 16 year old rapper. You can find the answers to how he writes his rhymes below, and check out the song “Gloves On” at the video above. I just love how much heart this kid put into the song, rough edges around it be damned.
When you start writing rap, do you start with the rhythm or the text (the words themselves)?
1. Rhythm, definitely. When I start a new track, I always start by
just babbling, like saying doobity dabada doo, and then trying to find a
good rhythm to the notes. At the same time, I am trying to think of
words that could go there, but I feel the sound is just as important. I
usually start by doing the doobity dabady thing and then filling in
words after. The start is always the hardest part though.
How/when do you write your rhymes?
2. All the time. Like ALL the time. Haha. If I’m not
dedicating free time in class to just sitting and thinking, I’m always
just doing the doobity dabady thing and thinking of things that I could
turn into similes and whatever. Especially in school. Being in high
school helps ’cause I’m always being hit with new things to learn, and
new things to learn means more things I can mention in my lyrics. In
ninth grade, when I wrote Gloves On, I had this notebook that I’d whip
out whenever I happened to have an idea. Teachers wouldn’t care ’cause
it just looked like more work. Now I mostly do the same thing but with
my phone. I have this app, Colornote that I’ve been using pretty much
since I got my smartphone in the summer between ninth and tenth grade.
I’m thankful for lenient teachers who’re okay with phones in class.
What musical training do you have?
3. I don’t have professional training at all. I just
paid attention to rap that I listened to and took it from there. I also
dabble in producing sorta. On of the most viewed videos on my channel
is a remix of the Andy Griffith theme song. That somehow got traction
and people have done songs with the beat. But yeah, I taught that to
myself too. Everything I do with music is on Audacity. That means with
beats, importing songs, cutting up sections of tracks, layering samples
and drums on top of each other, speeding up and slowing down to fit
tempo. Whenever I start telling people about beats, I always point to my remix of a song called Broken Brights by Angus Stone. That
was completely done in Audacity. Took the longest out of everything
I’ve done, I think. I digress. Point is I taught myself. Haha. I mess
around with the piano. I tend to use it more for trying to make up my
own songs then learn other people’s. I can barely read sheet music. I
like singing. I’m huge into the Sinatra type of swing music. But I
normally keep my singing in the shower. Haha. People who have heard me
sing say I have a good voice. But I haven’t gotten the balls to record
myself on a track with it. I also try to write actual sing songy songs,
which is where both singing and piano come together. Emphasis on try
though. I don’t think I’ve ever finished a song completely.
Who’s your favorite rapper? Who’s your favorite producer? 
4. Picking one favorite is hard. One huge dude for
me is this guy Wax on YouTube. When I started writing, I only listened
to this subgenre of rap I found called nerdcore hip hop, which is
basically rap for nerds by nerds. I stumbled onto Wax and his video 2010 ‘Til Infinity and
it helped cross over from nerd rap to rap as a whole. Since then, I’ve
never stopped listening to him and his music. He’s a singer too and that
made’ve played a part in me singing, maybe. Haha. That’s the biggest
dude for me, I could name so so so many others. When it comes to
producers, I like always have to say Premier. I’m huge into boom bap
stuff. I also like big stuff, big being the only word I could think to
describe it. Haha. Just big. Horn and string samples, loud crunchy
drums, that compilation of sounds that turns into a sort of melody. I’m
huge into that and Premier is like all about that. I’ve written to a
couple of his beats. Again, could name any others but he’s the one that
comes to mind.
When you write rhymes, do you always write them to the beat? Or do you
write the rhymes, and then try to find a beat to match them?
5. Mix of both. Usually writing for a beat though.
That’s how it’s been, I mean. Now, as I get deeper into high school and
free time lessens, it gets harder to just sit down and look for beats.
So I usually end up writing and then finding nowadays.
When you put the rhymes and beat together, is that it? Or do you back
and forth between the two to make them work better together?
6. For me, I usually one-shotting everything. Like
what I write is what goes in, what I record is what goes in the final
cut. It’s like checkpoints. I work on writing, edit it and then I pretty
much pronounce it officially done. Then when I get to recording, I
might change a couple words and the tempo because I get a feel for what
it’s actually gonna sound like with me SAYING it instead of just
thinking it. But still. I have my little recording session, record a
couple acapellas. And I mean a couple. One song I had, I recorded four
one takes of it, like four different recordings of me doing the whole
song all the way through. And with those four tracks, I edited them
around and made the final track. That’s how I usually do it. With stuff
that’s more complex in recording, like I decide I’m gonna make it more
complex in the actual track, multiple tracks and adlibs and all, like
one of my newer tracks Don Pianta (self
produced, by the way), for example, I do multiple takes. But that’s as
far as that goes. I just go head on. Something that may be a flaw for
me. But that’s how I do it.
In your opinion, is rap music, poetry, or both?
7. Both. Especially the way I do it. I’m majorly
into English. Not just rap. I write stuff that’s specifically meant to
be freeform poetry, I take pleasure in writing essays for my English
class. Just words fascinate me, they’re my favorite things to play with.
I feel like a freak ’cause all of my classmates hate essays and I’m
always like alright, let’s do this. Haha. But yeah. My rap,
specifically, is really about both. Adding elements of poetry like the
multiple meanings and flowery language and good grammar and syntax and
wording things nicely, all of that goes into it. And as much as English
in general does, music does. Like I said, I always think of the rhythm
first. And it can come from anywhere. I might here a little melody in a
song that I find nice to me so I might take inspiration from that. And
it definitely comes into play with the beat making. Like with Don
Pianta. I made sure to go big on the lyrics and I made sure to go
equally big on the beat. They were written separately, by the way. Beat
first, then lyrics a while later. But still, musicality and finding a
good way to turn the original sample, which is this, if you wanted to know,
into something that can work as a beat. Because making a beat
specifically for a rap is something else. Which says something about rap
and hip hop, that making it means making something FOR HIP HOP and
nothing else. Like there’s a distinct musical style to it. So short
answer, for my music specifically – Oh and that too, that I always refer
to it as my MUSIC when I talk about it, I don’t say it’s my raps. But
yeah, short answer, for me, it’s both. And they both have an equally
powerful role in making the whole the way I want to.

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 [email protected].

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