It took five years for me to become a formidable rapper. Hard work, patience, and perseverance are the three qualities that paved the way for my lyrical talents. However, I failed miserably when it came to writing a good rap hook.
Despite being one of the most respectable hip hop artists in my area, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t come up with a decent hook for my songs. After talking with dozens of hip hop artists, I found out that I was not the only one struggling in this department.
In the beginning, people laughed at my hooks. They said I would never be able to master the art of creating tight hooks for my songs.
Fortunately for me, I did not let this discourage me. I knew that I could not give up on my dreams. My mind was set on learning how to write hot hooks for my songs.
With time and practice, I knew I would be able to master the art of writing dope rap hooks. My confidence grew and I began writing songs for other hip hop artists in my city.
Are you having trouble with writing slamming rap hooks?
In this article, I will share five tips on how to write a rap hook. If you take heed to them, there’s no reason why you will not be able to overcome this hurdle.
1. Finding the Perfect Instrumental
The first step begins with you finding a good instrumental. The instrumental should sound good, and it should appeal to your emotions.
Please keep in mind that it will take time for you to find the ideal instrumental. It could take weeks or months. Some sources say it took Nas several months to find a good instrumental for one of his biggest hits.
You’ll know when you have found a good one. You will begin to bob your head, snap your fingers, and move from side to side.
2. Storm and Board
Brainstorming – It’s imperative for you to evaluate your emotions carefully while the instrumental is fresh in your mind. Take out a pen and write them down on a piece of paper.
Don’t be surprised when your mind becomes flooded with thoughts and memories. You should write them down to. They will come in handy.
The Concept – This is where you use your ideas to develop a solid concept for your song. You will see a strong connection between the ideas and memories written down during the brainstorming session.
There’s no need for you to have a long concept for your new song. A few simple words can highlight the meaning of your song.
The Story Board – What is the story board? It is a template of how you would like to present your ideas in the song.
You’re an artist. It’s your responsibility to put your feelings on paper. The story board will guide you into creating a perspective that will help people understand your song.
3. Creating the Rap or Melody
You should now have a clear idea of the meaning of your song. It’s now time for you to concentrate on creating the hook.
You have three options at your disposal. Your hook can be a rap, a melody, or both.
Playing around with the hook will help you make the right decision. It’s important to mention that your hook should highlight the emotion of the song.
The Key – At this point, it’s critical for you to make an earnest effort at identifying the key of your song. This is where many hip hop artists fall short. They have trouble with identifying the key of their song.
What is the key of the song? This is the musical scale. Please keep in mind that the song will always be created in the musical scale.
If you’re planning on doing something melodic, you must know the scale the song was made. This will help you select notes that will make the song sound great.
Let’s say you want to buy a beat from a hot music producer. They may add the tempo and key to the beat. To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to ask.
Do you use Digital Audio Workstation? If you do, it may be capable of picking up the key of the song. If you don’t use Digital Audio Workstation, you can use free software. For example, Serato DJ works extremely well. I use it from time to time.
Auto-Tune – Once I have the key of the instrumental on deck, I pull-up an Auto-Tune plug-in. I carefully set it to the key of the instrumental.
The stage is set for me to sing through the Auto-Tune plug-in. This helps me come up with dynamic melodies.
This may be hard for you to believe, but the Auto-Tune software has helped me become a better singer. Yes, I know that I am a rapper. However, it doesn’t hurt to learn how to sing.
I personally believe that singing can help you learn how to write a rap hook.
4. Vibe Session
This is where everything comes together. It’s now time for you to have an intense vibe session. This is where you put your melodies to the test. Singing the melodies over and over again will help you nail it.
I like having my vibe sessions late at night. This is when everything is chilled and laid back. I’m focused and motivated during this time.
Things may be a little different for you. You may find that morning hours is the best time for you to have your vibe sessions. It’s your call.
Please have your vibe session in an area where you can think and be creative. This could be a music studio or your bedroom.
In some cases, I’ve been able to create a slamming scat for the hook within 15 minutes. On other occasions, it took a few hours for me to come up with something special.
Focus on finding a good combination that compliments the vibe and the hook. It’s a natural process that shouldn’t be rushed. If I can do it, I know you can do it!
It may take a little time for you to get the hang of things. Once you do, the entire process will become easier. It took several years for some of the best hip hop songwriters to master this step.
5. Keep Things Simple
Once you have the perfect combination for your vibe and hook, it will be time for you to put it into words. Don’t be scared. It’s easier than it sounds.
This is not the time for you to complicate things. Just follow the K.I.S.S. principle. This is known as “Keep it Simple Stupid”.
A simple hook will make it easier for your audience to bond with your song.
Here are several reasons why you should concentrate on using simple hooks:
- More people will be able to relate to your song
- It will be easier for your audience to remember your song
- Simple hooks create suspense
- You will have the flexibility to do more things in your song
Being too specific:
Here’s an example of a hook that is too specific:
“I bought a new Benz last week because it was time to address the haters”
Here’s an example of a hook that nails it:
“Who’s really on your team? When trouble prevails during the day, everyone seems to run away.”
In the verse about your Mercedes Benz, You have the choice of being more specific about your decision to buy your new luxury car.
Now it’s time for me to summarize the tips listed above.
- Choose an instrumental that suits your emotions
- Create a realistic concept during your brainstorming session and develop a storyboard
- Make a decision on your hook. It can be a rap, melody, or both.
- Have an intense vibe session, so that you will find the true purpose of your song’s concept
- Put your simple scat to lyrics on paper.
I know how tough it is to create a hook for a rap song. It took several years for me to master this craft. Through trial and error, I found out what works.
Luckily for you, I decided to share some invaluable tips on how to write a rap hook. If you take heed to them, there’s no reason why you will not be able to improve your hook writing skills.
There’s no hard or fast rule when it comes to writing hooks for rap songs. You may find out that you only need to use one or two of the tips listed above.
I don’t have a problem with that. I only want to see you succeed.
You must follow your thoughts, feelings, and inspiration. As an artist, you are in the driver’s seat. Your song is your masterpiece.
I hope these tips will elevate your game. The hip hop audience will always be interested in dancing to new songs with dope hooks. Good luck!