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”

Break Through to Songwriting Success

Seems I’ve heard from a lot of songwriters and composers lately who are feeling frustrated.  Their careers haven’t gotten off the ground or they’re stalled at a level that isn’t really satisfying. Over and over, I hear things like…

frustrated-songwriter

  • I’m not getting the kind of response from the music industry I deserve.
  • I spend hours on my music but I’m not making any money.
  • They keep telling me my music is dated.
  • I’m doing the best I can. I guess I just don’t have enough talent.

I know how awful it feels to be in that place. But there’s really a very straightforward process for getting beyond these problems. It takes focus, determination, and effort. But If you’re willing to do that then you can get where you want to go.

So let’s cut to the chase… Everything you need to know to be a successful songwriter is right in front of you. If you study successful songs and instrumentals and use them to help you discover new techniques and choices to use in your own songs, you’ll break through.

Once you know what’s working for today’s listeners and the music industry and you can create original, authentic material in one of these styles, you’ll find you have an open door into the offices of music publishers and Film/TV music supervisors. They need this music and you’d be surprised how many ways there are to get it to them. But you need to have the goods first, before you approach them. Continue reading “Break Through to Songwriting Success”

Robin’s Interview in Beat Magazine

Q: What makes a great song great?
A: For me, a great song is one that moves listeners emotionally. One that makes them understand something more deeply or see something in a new way. In some ways, a great song actually changes the listener.

Q: What’s your personal ingredient list for what you consider a good song?
A: A good song is one that expresses what the songwriter feels. If, every time you play your song, you say, “Yes, that’s what I felt. That’s what I wanted to say.” Then it’s a good song. A great song is one that communicates your message to listeners and makes them feel what you felt when you wrote it.  Continue reading “Robin’s Interview in Beat Magazine”