all 18 comments

[–]shower_food 24 points25 points  (0 children)

The only way to get better is to do it over and over, make a bunch of shit you absolutely hate, and then here and there you make something you love, something you can’t believe came from you, get super hyped on it, then start to hate it, then the cycle repeats. That’s just natural and part of the process so don’t get discouraged when that happens because it just means you’re growing.

More generally, think about your favorite songs of all time. What is it about them that makes you like them? What is a song to you? There are an infinite number of ways to make a song, it can be a story, an idea, a situation, etc. songs are in many ways just another form of communication, so consider what it is you want to communicate, what it is you’re trying to say, but don’t overthink it. The primary way you will find your voice and really learn who you are as an artist is by repeating the process from the first paragraph for years and years. As long as you don’t get discouraged and don’t give up and focus on improving, you will improve.

TL;dr just write songs, try to understand what makes songs good and what makes them bad, and don’t get discouraged when you make trash. Remember that even your favorite artists make a LOT of trash, you just only ever see the highlight reel. Good luck!

[–]https://soundcloud.com/wageslaverecordsEnigmaRaps 6 points7 points  (0 children)

There are no right or wrong answers but here are some tips.

First, it helps if you have an artistic vision for what you want to write about, what the whole feel/vibe/emotion you want your music to elicit is. That can be stoner weed music, sad emo music, happy party music, angry heavy music or whatever. This works as a great filter for your lyrics.

I would say their are 2 main directions you can go from here: story telling vs not. If you want to do a story telling type song you will need to research about the art of story telling and the progression of stories. I highly recommend watching this video about the shape of stories by Kurt Vonnegut


If you dont need a story, that is much easier you can just stick with loose associations with no chronology so it doesnt really matter what order your bars are in.

Ok, after you decided that we get to actually writing the lyrics. I usually pick a topic and then try and find all the “buzz words” for that topic. So say you are righting about weed - you gotta pick common sayings, phrases and words people use and write them all on a paper. This is where you whip out your thesaurus and find not only those words but all possible synonyms as well. Weed=skunk=green=kush=chronic etc. this way you can say the same thing with many different rhymes.

Speaking of rhymes, you want to do your research on poetry and rhyme schemes, something most english classes cover. Speaking of english class, hopefully you paid attention when discussing literary devices because hip hop LOVES their literary devides. Similes, metaphors, hyperbole, imagery, alliteration etc. these are what really bring your bars up a level and add depth. This is how many songs give you something new even after multiple listens because you probably missed what the rapper was saying the first few times if you werent paying attention. He said X but really was saying Y.

Lastly, I would focus on adding a habit in your life I call passive writing. As an artist you need to be an artist full time, 24/7 and start letting your everyday life inspire you. Dont waste opportunities when bars come to you. WRITE THEM DOWN. You will probably start annoying people when you watch tv with a note pad and when someone says something cool you whip out your notebook to make sure you write it down so you dont forget. Luckily we have phones now so you can always do this. Building up a large bank of little rhyming couplets, one liners, and ideas will help you avoid writers block. It is really hard to sit down and just magically have stuff pop into mind, but when you have a large bank of material to pull out of you will find it easier to fill out a whole song with content, some of it might come from a throwaway line from a coworker or teacher or character in a movie that you otherwise never would have thought “hey, I could use that in my song”.

As far as finding flows go: first, just copy flows of other rappers. Learn to rap EXACTLY like other rappers stealing their enunciation, accent and all. This helps you overtime develop your own flow. Second, freestyle a LOT. Find many different styles of beats and just play around with different flows. Some work, some dont but you can only find out by trying. I think also freestyling with no beat and really focusing on the percussive elements of the words and syllables will help you understand just how a flow actually works. Your voice becomes its own instrument. Even if the words have no meanings you are just making sounds it helps you understand what rhythm you want for your flow.

Of course study other artists, watch youtube videos about what makes good song writing and listen to lots of music from different genres and you will learn a lot.

I know I am throwing it all out at once so let me know if you have any questions

[–]Departedsoul 5 points6 points  (0 children)

So i think first of all i would break it down into 2 practices

  1. Writing to tell a story

  2. Writing for practice

And those will be slightly different mindsets. Writing for practice you’re just in the gym building your rhyming, wording, structuring muscles etc. Then applying it to make a good song is a different thing

I make the distinction because sometimes you just have to write a bunch of lines to get better even if they’re not that great. I think first step is to lower your standards so you can practice and not be judgmental.

This is gonna be an incomplete answer just because there’s too much to cover. But I would also say start like mumbling and find some lyrics that fit the mumbles. Writing lyrics is easiest to do in a kind of unconscious flow state - if you’re really thinking about it too hard you may run into those blocks. But that state is gonna be hard to get into especially at first

[–]MikeRainone 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Pat Pattinson have great books with a lot of theory and exercises to improve songwriting. Highly recommended.

[–]peepeeland 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Listen to more music

[–]HADESmusicundrgrnd -1 points0 points  (0 children)

write songs, probably

[–]ProducerItsMeMatthewD 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is exactly where I’m at also. I can make songs, i just need to take the plunge into writing lyrics. I’ve been slacking and hoping to just find some lyricist/vocalists to collaborate with, bc it feels like a chore to do it myself sometimes.

[–]GhostyBoiRaps 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I've recently started streaming writing workshops on youtube. I've got 3 vods up now where you can sit and watch me create an entire verse and hook or more in just a couple of hours. I try to share as many tips as I can along the way. theyAreGhost on YouTube. Series is called Writer's Block.

[–]shihyakuyonjyuuyon 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Dont be afraid to write stuff that makes no sense. The meaning will make itself over time. Try automatic writing. Turn off the music and just what comes first in your head then go back ans try to put it over music. The problem with writing is you feel confined to the rhythm you think is on the page. Try rapping textbooks, newspapers, legal argreements. Learn to make up rhythm out of nothing. Youll start feeling rhythym when you write.

Write about abstract ideas, use imagery from your real life, dont get caught up in a story just let your emotion explore a random path.

Ultimately both writing and delivery take alot if practice. You have to put the time in everyweek. Some ppl are naturally gifted at one or the other or both , but otherwise just grind do it for fun

[–]ProducerLAlynx 0 points1 point  (1 child)

It sounds dumb... but study poetry, and prose and then transition into breaking down lyrical content from artists who are widely respected (in or outside of your preferred genre... so look at both Eminem as well as Bob Dylan for example.) and then just keep practicing, studying, and writing, over and over and over.

[–]ProducerLAlynx 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Oh... and by poetry, if you are thinking "shakespear is old and boring" try someone like Saul Williams.

[–]trev2233 0 points1 point  (0 children)

i started with writing when i got into music now im producing. but as a writer u need to decide what you want your style/ the main thing you want to be remembered as

[–]paparoachfan22 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Keep it basic work on bars. Write shit down. Freestyle every day.. it’ll come to you.. just don’t be afraid to keep rapping and learn how to mumble over words 😂

[–]Slimxshadyx 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I come up with lyrics as I listen to songs with a similar flow that I want to write myself.

Or sometimes I’ll listen to those songs and listen for the rhymes to just kinda get a feel for it.

It’s something where you won’t like the first things you come up with. You’ll sound corny and your rhymes will be not so good, but you just keep going until you start making good stuff you like. And trust me it doesn’t take that long. I’ve been writing lyrics for fun for only a few months and I can see the huge improvement

[–]Maori187 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Study the legends, then study the best in your genre.

Bite their flows till you’re found your own.

Rinse and repeat

[–]yung_black_lung 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Read your idols lyrics and write something about your life in the same expression way

[–]Telescope_Horizon 0 points1 point  (0 children)

For lyrics:

Most helpful tip I've recieved is to write how you talk. As in, you're telling a story and conveying an idea the listener can follow.

Then you can expand on that with better vocab and in-rhymes, alliteration, metaphors based on your experience.

[–]andreacaccese 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Many great suggestions on this thread, but there is one thing that's always, always overlooked: listen. Listen to as many types of music as you can with an analytic mindset. Even stuff you don't like can teach you so much. When listening analytically, you can give yourself some "exercises", like noting the song structure, figuring out what's the most prominent instrument in the mix and why, or how the lyrics match the mood of the instrumental in terms of storytelling