I’ve got an interesting observation.
When you’re at a karaoke with your friends, there’s always that one friend who’s either:
- Intentionally singing off-tune so he’s not “trying so hard”
- Hiding in the corner, fearing he’ll be put “on the spot”
When it comes to taking artistic risks, we don’t want to be a try-hard. We don’t like doing our best because what if our best is shitty? What would that say about us as people?? If it doesn’t look like we put in effort, we have easy excuses to lean on:
I wasn’t trying.
Oh, I’m kinda sick today. My throat hurts.
I can do it but I just don’t feel like it.
But when you don’t “try”, that’s a guaranteed formula to never getting better. You cannot improve your jumpshot if you don’t take shots. But it’s easy for me to rant about you needing to “put yourself out there.” But the reality is that we all lack the confidence in specific areas of our lives to take these first steps.
It’s an interesting Catch-22. Confidence comes from repeated successes but more successes come when you have confidence.
I want to give you this confidence, in a particular skill.
Give me 10 minutes of your time and you’ll be better than 99% of the population at freestyle rapping.
Most people I peer-pressure(lol) to freestyle say things like:
- I can’t rap.
- I don’t freestyle….
- I don’t know how to rap though…..
Remember, if you can talk, you can rap.
Thinking big picture, it’s not just about freestyle rapping. It’s about showing you it only takes a small nudge to get the confidence boulder rolling.
But before we jump in, this is how freestyle rapping can benefit you:
- Improvisational Skills: Any situation where you need to stitch together an assortment of words on the spot: speeches & interviews.
- Creativity: therapeutic medium to express your inner thoughts
- Communication: Rapping requires you to S-P-E-A-K C-L-E-A-R-L-Y which applies to conversation, interviews, speeches, anything that requires talking.
But most importantly, IT’S FUN!!
Nevertheless, I’m not here to preach. I’m here to teach. Let’s get started:
Rules you must accept:
- You will say stupid things
- Don’t worry about rhyming
Step 1: Count to 4
Rapping over a beat sounds shitty if we’re not in rhythm. It’ll just sound like we’re talking with music in the background. Avoid that. First step to freestyling is:
- Pick an instrumental, preferrably slower since you’re first starting( you can actually rap over anything, but hip hop instrumentals tend to be easiest since the rhythms are slower.) Search ‘Rapper name + instrumental’ on Youtube.
- Count to 4, on beat: 1-2-3-4
Here’s me as an example:
Doing this will calibrate the rhythm of the beat to the voice in your head. Once you’re comfortable with this, move on to step 2:
Step 2: Mimicking the drum cadences
For those who have background in drumming, you will notice that the flow of rap is the same thing as a drum cadence. Banging a drum is the same thing as rap, but in different form. Here’s what it sounds like:
You’ll want to add a drum cadence to the 1-2-3-4 count. Here’s an example:
Get creative with this. Once you’re comfortable with this, move on to Step 3.
Step 3: Converting drums to words
At this point, you should be able to feel the rhythm and add your own creative flair to the beat. Now, you’re going to translate that rhythm into words.
So grab any piece of text, and we’re going to read the text over the beat. Here’s an example:
As you can see, you do not need to rhyme at all. You just need to feel the beat and the rhythm. Rappers refer to this as flow.
Flow is the most important part to rapping. If you’re not flowing, you’re not rapping. So when you freestyle, remember ABF: Always Be Flowing.
Step 4. Converting text to your own words
Many times, I get stuck and don’t know what to rap about. But we always remember what we did that day. So you’re going to convert rapping over printed text to rapping about your day. Here’s my example:
If you don’t like rapping about your day, pick topics you love talking about: sports, clubs, gossip, whatever.
BONUS: Boost your creativity & Never run out of things to say
I learned this neat little exercise from an improv class. It is called word association.
Turn on your beat. Pick a random word and say the next word that comes to mind. Continue building the chain. Here’s me as an example:
Note: This is hard for me.
You’ll see that the words will just take your mind on a wild journey. You don’t know what you’re going to say next, but just let your mind continue to spit out words. It’s interesting how you can start with one word and end somewhere totally different.
And there you have it. You are now better than a majority of the population at freestyle rapping. Just remember:
You will sound stupid.
You will not make sense.
You might say you have a small penis(if you’re a dude).
It does not matter. Just keep flowing.
It doesn’t take much to gain a little bit of confidence. And for most of you, I doubt you care much about freestyle rapping. But whenever you’re put in the artistic spotlight, whether it’s karaoke, blogging, dancing at a club, remember, it doesn’t take much to instill a little bit of confidence. But the only thing that you can do is decide to take those first steps. So I want to ask you:
In what areas of your life can you take those first steps?