How To Flow Like A Boss
Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Drake, Big Sean, Future, I don’t really need to go on, I’m sure as soon as you read their names you thought of one of their songs. Many of our favorite rappers have a distinct and or unique presence to their music, as soon as you hear a certain ad lib, the way a beat drops or even the first word you know exactly who it is on the beat, this is flow, The emotion, the word play, the cadence, the melody are all aspects of music that we enjoy, but how do we as artists build these things up for ourselves? Here are a few steps on how to improve on your performance and rap like one of the champs.
Step 1. Practice
This step may seem pretty lame and obvious, but not a lot of people do it. In the rap game people love to flex and show off their money, but don’t really like to show off the hard work they’ve put in to earn it. It’s one thing to go to the studio and bang out songs for 6 hours, but I bet you’ll only get to 2 of them if you’re not a professional. Practice is key to your success as an emcee, things like timing flow and delivery can be practiced at home before you spend your hard earned check at the studio. If you have a session coming up 5 days from now, you should be practicing the songs for atleast an hour a day so that when you get to the studio you kill it and have time to get to your new projects!
Step 2. Reference Tracks
A reference track is such an underrated way to improve on your vocals, timing, pronunciation and overall satisfaction with your musical style, Many of our favorite artists use these to learn songs that were written for them, but I recommend that you create your own to improve your studio performance. Any engineer that you work with would greatly appreciate it if you were in the moment of the song instead of looking down at your sheet or phone for the lyrics. It’s easy and free to make a reference track, simply download a recording program to your phone or computer and create a rough draft of the track. This rough draft will allow room for experimentation and an easier way to learn your lyrics and think of ad libs if you store in on your phone and shuffle it into your regular playlist.
Step 3: Ad Libs
Some artists use ad libs all over the place such as the Migos and Big Sean whereas others like Drake and Nicki Minaj use them more sparingly. There’s no right or wrong answer, but you do have to try both approaches to figure out where you stand. This also helps to reinforce the benefits of a reference track because as you listen to it in your day to day life you'll come across certain parts and either feel that something is missing like an ad lib or if it’s just a mixing technique that needs to be put in. With ad libs too, you should consider if you’d just like to do an echo on the last word of the bar or if you want to throw in something with a little more punch.
Step 4: Personal Touch
When you write music for yourself you have the opportunity to share your story with the world! This Is your story and you story alone so no one can tell you how to do it. With that being said, do remember that it’s YOUR story so try to keep the facts straight as your future fans would be hurt to know that you’re just a poser. When writing your story don’t be afraid to add real emotion, sound effects, yelling and anything else you can think of. The more unique the style is, the more you it is! We are in an age where music is going in some exciting directions, so don’t be afraid to be the one to start a new trend.
Step 5: Writing
As I said before, it’s your story and your thoughts so don’t be afraid to push the envelope. I also mentioned that you’re not wrong for telling your story, but please do not take the easy way out with your rhyming. Hat, black, cat, mat… Not acceptable! Remember that each song is a story so the verses have to match up and the hook has to match up with the verses too. A lot of people focus too much energy on creating an ‘epic song’ so they try really hard to make thought provoking lyrics. Use whatever style comes naturally to you, but if you see a lot of the same words being used throughout your songs, pick up a thesaurus and also start to read more to expand on your vocabulary.
Step 6: Have Fun!
Not to sound cheesy, but you’re making music because you like it, right? Well then act like it; experiment with your style, use different beats and under no circumstances should you ever put out a song that you don’t like! At the independent level is where you’re going to have the most control and influence on your music. The industry is super saturated with people who are trying to sound like the mainstream so you might as well try to make it as yourself, what have you got to lose?