How I learned about rap song structure..
I’ve been in the rap game for over seven years. During this time, I’ve written thousands of bars and creative thoughts. In short, I came up with things that would help me come up with dope rap songs for my fans.
A strange thing happened to me one day. I was hanging out with one of my best friends. He is a well-known rapper in the city.
We had a very interesting conversation. He told me that I was one of the best hip hop artists on the scene, but there was one thing I needed to work on.
His remark took me by surprise, but I knew he meant well. He said I needed to work on my rap structure.
I asked him to go into further details. He repeated himself. He told me I needed to spend more time on developing my rap structure.
For the next several days, I thought about his statement. Having rap structure sounds nice, but it could potentially limit my freedom on controlling my flow and creating lyrics.
You will not have any difficulty with finding tons of freestyle rhymes from experienced emcees. They can get by without having rap structure because they have a loyal fan base.
On the other hand, you may not be so fortunate at this time. This is probably the primary reason why you should learn how to create sound rap structure for your songs.
At first, I had a difficult time with entertaining the idea of having rap structure. I thought it would stunt my growth, and make it hard for to compete against other talented artists in freestyle contests.
I wasn’t interested in putting constraints on my songs. As time went by, it felt like I was selling my soul to the devil. I felt like I was compromising my music.
If you are focused on going main stream, there are some things you need to take into consideration.
Only a few types of rap structures are being played on the airwaves these days.
You can take your creative ideas and infuse them into your rap structure without destroying the track’s integrity.
Songwriting in Hip Hop
What is songwriting in hip hop?
It’s not unusual for aspiring emcees to ask this question. It’s a unique art of successful communication. This can take place through the following: your lyrics, your beats, the tone of your voice, your instrumentals, etc.
When you create rap and place it into a desirable structure, you are using the correct grammar to express your unique ideas. At the end of the day, everything will flow smoothly.
When you write your raps down on paper, excellent punctuation and well-placed commas can highlight the true meaning of your words. In the end, your audience will have more appreciation for your songs.
Can the same be said for rap structure? Absolutely! Rap structure will help you deliver your lyrics in an organized manner.
Your audience will be in a better position to understand your rhymes. When this happens, they will not hesitate to dance to your music. There’s nothing like seeing the audience run to the dance floor when your song is played in the club.
Here’s the most common rap structure:
- The Verse – The Chorus – The Verse – The Chorus
- The Verse – The Chorus – The Verse – The Chorus – The Bridge – The Chorus
- The Verse – The Chorus – The Verse – The Chorus – The Verse – The Chorus
- The Verse – The Verse – The Bridge – The Verse
Analyzing the Close Sections of a Song
Hit songs and top playlist songs are typically created by combining the following:
The elements listed above serve different purposes in the rap song structure. If you understand this concept, you will be able to take your rhyming skills to the next level.
It’s critical for me to tell you that it may take you a little time for you to get the hang of things. This is a small price for you to pay.
The Infamous Rap Verse
The rap verse is the information that takes you to the rap hook or chorus.
You can introduce the audience to a particular character or several characters. You can share the story with the audience and set the tone. This will appeal to their emotions.
How can you deliver the action and the plot? This is an excellent question. The lyrics in your song will do this with ease.
It’s important that you create a tight melody for your lyrics. This is one important step that you cannot afford to overlook.
Things constantly change in hip hop and you must adjust to these changes. For example, you may need to create a new style of delivering 5 bars. There’s also a strong possibility that you may need to match the syllables from different lines.
Experience will help you get better with this technique. The mind can recognize the change.
Jay Z was notorious for creating a sweet melody for his bars and verses. You can look at him for inspiration.
Jay Z is one of the best of all time. If you pattern his style, you will see an improvement in your flow.
Contrary to popular belief, there are no rules etched in stone for using rap structures while writing rap songs. There are only guides.
How Many Bars Can You Find in a Verse?
What is a bar? Don’t make me laugh. You should know what a bar is.
Okay, you may not know what a bar is. A bar is a line in a song.
Each verse in a rap song is normally 8 to 16 lines long.
These lines are typically expressed in 8 to 16 musical bars.
Now that you know the true meaning of bars, we will take a close look at the pre-chorus in rap songs.
Pre-Chorus in Rap Songs
It’s not unusual to find a pre-chorus in a hip hop song.
What makes the pre-chorus special? It is the main feature of the last sentence of bars in a verse. It will set the stage for the chorus.
In a sense, the pre-chorus is the hype man for the chorus. Many experienced rappers use a pre-chorus in all of their verses. However, you can settle on using the pre-chorus for one verse. Experimenting will help you make the right decision for your songs.
Through my experience, I learned that the pre-chorus has a different melody or vibe. If it’s not in the instrumental, don’t worry about using it.
The pre-chorus is approximately four bars long. Let’s say your song has a 16 bar verse, 12 of these bars should be used for the verse, and 4 bars should be used for the pre-chorus.
The pre-chorus should maintain the same melody throughout your song. Just make sure you keep the same number of syllables. This will help bring out the tone.
I personally prefer to use the same lyrics with one minor change to one or two of the bars. This helps the song keep the same feel.
As you see, rap song structure plays a vital role in hip hop songs.
The Rap Hook
Everyone has their unique way of creating a rap hook. You have to create a style that will make you feel comfortable.
In my case, the chorus of the rap song is where the general concept, the theme, or idea is delivered with pure precision.
Many emcees will not hesitate to say this is the most important part of the song. Your hook should leave a lasting impression on the audience. This is the main reason why I spend a great deal of time on creating an impressive hook.
In most rap instrumentals, the melody is switched. This helps the hook stand out in the song. The words in the hook should be catchy. If they are, the audience will have fun with reciting the hook.
What’s the main role of the rap chorus? It’s supposed to give you the true meaning of the song. In most cases, the artist will use the title of the song while delivering the hook.
The chorus should be simple. This will make it easy for your fans to remember. Adding too many details will complicate matters.
How long is a good rap chorus? It should be eight to sixteen bars long. It’s not unusual for some emcees to recite the hook two times.
It doesn’t take a college mathematician to know that repeating four bars twice will create eight bars.
There’s really no official rule to using hooks in rap songs. However, following the advice listed above can help you create a sweet hook that will make your song a hot banger for hip hop fans.
Please make sure your chorus has the same lyrics throughout the entire song. I see so many novice rappers make this mistake.
This was just an overview, see my detailed post on how to write a rap hook here.
Breaking Down Rap Song Structure
Here’s an example of rap song structure being broken down.
Visit this link to see the song: https://genius.com/Eminem-Godzilla-Lyrics
A fast intro jumps out, but you should take a close look at the bars. There are twelve musical bars.
This is very impressive!
The chorus comes into play after eight bars. The hook is made out of eight bars courtesy of Juicy World.
After the eight bars are dropped, Eminem goes for the jugular vein. He delivers eight more bars in grand fashion.
The hook is repeated in eight bars.
Eminem closes the song with 32 wicked bars!
I guess this is why so many hip hop fans consider him to be one of the best of all time.
If you pay close attention, you should be able to see that the structure goes like this:
The Verse – The Chorus – The Verse – The Chorus – The Verse
Rap song structure plays a vital role in creating a good song. If you apply the tips in this article, you will be able to create sound rap structure for your songs with ease.
I wish you well!