Writing Rap and Hip-Hop Songs

I’ve been asked by a few songwriters for advice on how to create good Hip-Hop and Rap songs. Because this is a little outside of my usual style, I asked a couple of successful Rap producers and label owners to help me out.

HIP-HOP SONG FORM
Hip-Hop relies on a 16-bar verse form followed by a chorus/hook section. Often there are three verse sections with each one followed by a chorus or hook section. Sometimes the third verse is replaced with a bridge, a section with different chords or a change up  in the rap style or content. The hook/chorus provides an anchor for the listener while the verses tell the story, paint a picture, or express the personality of the rapper.

I’ve noticed that some very successful rap songs open with the hook – the catchiest part of the song –  to grab the listener’s attention right at the start.   Use these repeated hook sections to make a statement that sums up the heart of your song. These are the lines your listeners will remember so make them emotional, honest, and unique.

Crossover Urban hits like Keyshia Cole and Missy Elliott’s “Let It Go” or Kanye West and T-Pains’s “Good Life” have big melodic choruses that break up the rap verses. You can use these songs to help you frame a solid song structure in this style. Just make your rap is the same length as theirs and drop your hook where they do.

Producers’ advice: Whether you sing or rap your chorus hook, use plenty of contrast. Try jumping to a high note to start a melodic hook and smoothing or stretching out the delivery. For a rap hook, change up the pace or rhythm pattern – slow it down or shorten/lengthen your phrases. Start on an unexpected beat or emphasize an unusual beat. Your goal is to change up the rhythm of the words or melody enough to catch the listener’s attention. Continue reading “Writing Rap and Hip-Hop Songs”

Write a Memorable Title

by Robin Frederick
COACH-THINKINGThe title of a song is almost always a featured line in the song itself, often the first line or last line of the chorus, making it the line that listeners remember long after the song is over. A good title is intriguing, evocative, and memorable. The best titles sum up the heart and soul of a song, recalling the whole experience for listeners, making them want to go back and listen again.

Keep it brief.  A good title should be easy to remember and get to the point, so consider keeping it short. Titles like “Everybody Talks,” “What Now?” “Roar,” and “Wrecking Ball” are all brief, intriguing, and easy to remember. Long titles can work if you use a familiar phrase like ”I Just Called to Say I Love You” or “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” which are easier to recall. To be safe, stick to five words or less. While it’s not a rule, it’s a good idea to keep in mind. Continue reading “Write a Memorable Title”

VIDEO: Secrets of Hit Songwriting – “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson

“Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” is a major hit song that’s a master class in songwriting for the Pop charts. Learn today’s hottest song structure for radio hits, plus ideas on how to write a great Pop lyric and build emotional energy into your melody. I’ll take you through this song step-by-step and show you simple exercises that will get you writing like the pro’s do!

Video #6: Find the Melody in Your Lyric

A memorable melody will bring listeners back to your song over and over. But where do you start? The natural melody of speech will give you the raw material for a song that’s focused and original! Learn how to look for the melody in your lyrics and begin building an unforgettable chorus.