How To Freestyle Rap Better In 5 Simple Steps
In today’s article, I want to describe exactly how to freestyle rap in a way that turns people into “insta-fans” of your rap skills that minute you start “going off of the top”.
As someone who not only has been rapping for over 15 years in addition to coaching rappers from around the world more than 5 years…
…I’m also somebody who spent the first few years of the rap development NOT knowing how to freestyle, and then had to FIGURE OUT through trial-and-error the simple steps about I’m about to show you…
…So that at this point, you can just enjoy this video, follow the steps… and immediately start freest lying in a way that people will love.
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…And if you’re SUPER passionate about mastering freestyle rap SPECIFICALLY, we have a 2-week video course designed SPECIFICALLY to help you MASTER the art of freestyle rapping in just 14 days, which you can check out by clicking HERE.
Off The Top vs. Unreleased Verses
Now, just for clarity’s sake I want to make it clear that in this article we are talking about going “off the top” as we say in rap.
There is also an alternative usage of “freestyle” which you might see used which essentially means an “unreleased written verse”.
This is most commonly the usage we see on radio “freestyles” at places like L.A. Leakers, Sway In The Morning, etc.
There’s a lot of debate if that is real “freestying” or not and sometimes people clown rappers in the comments for rapping a verse at a radio station that appears on their album, but just so you know the difference… there it is.
In the case of this article, we’re not talking about that – we’re talking about literally spontaneously creating a rap the minute you hear a beat.
Now that THAT’s out of the way…
How To Freestyle Rap Better Step #1: “Spit Through Your Stumbles”
I want to start with this because if you learn NOTHING else from this article…
Which if you stick with us through the whole thing you’ll learn TONS more…
…But if you learn nothing else from this article, it’s…
SPIT THROUGH YOUR STUMBLES.
To translate this, it means “rap through the times you mess up”… with “spit” of course being slang for rap and “stumbles” meaning anytime you trip over your words, your brain “freezes”, or repeat yourself, or whatever.
This is really the MAJOR KEY #DJKhaledVoice to becoming a good freestyler.
The logic behind this is as follows…
Look, freestyle rapping is not a “NATURAL” thing to do anymore than dribbling a basketball properly is not something your body was evolutionarily BUILT to do.
So, in the same way that when you first start playing basketball, you’re going to not press the ball hard enough and it will bounce back to shoot and you fall over, or it hits your knee…
When you first start freestyling, you’re going to misjudge how many words you have at your disposal to use, or how many rhymes you have in your mind to say, etc.
The only way to get past this is to actively accept you will mess up a bit in the beginning.
The way I personally fixed this was I first start by admitting IN THE FREESTYLE that I messed up by saying things like, “Ohhhh I messed up, but I’ma keep going”… or “Forgetting what to talk about but I don’t care…” and then just kept rocking.
Over time, you WILL not trip up as much because what was once UNNATURAL will BECOME natural through repetition and comfort with the spontaneous form of freestyle rapping.
How To Freestyle Rap Better Step #2: Freestyle Immediately
As similar form of learning how to deal with the spontaneity of learning how to freestyle rap better is demanding to yourself that you will freestyle rap the minute the beat starts playing or you catch the rhythm of the track.
The most common image I think we all have a “struggle rapper” when it comes to freestyling is someone who will say, “I’m ‘bout to freestyle… yo… check… unh…” and then spend a full minute or two just ad-libbing without actually rapping…
This is the musical equivalent of getting passed the basketball and dribbling with your head down while pacing back and forth along the half court line without shooting, passing, or even moving forward.
It’s an obvious attempt to try to “think of something dope to say” or “not look stupid” but in fact…
…All it does is make you look wack and scared.
Much better to do just start the minute you hear there thing and put the AUDIENCE on their back foot by having to listen to what you’ve got.
Over time, you’ll be able to think of better and better lines faster because you’re training your brain to truly think spontaneously UNDER PRESSURE.
It’s also important to understand in this step that most beats are not formatted to just be rapped to nonstop spontaneously with no sense of structure sense most beats are meant to have songs written around them.
This comes into play because it means if you’re rapping nonstop the minute it drops, you’re ADDITIONALLY training yourself to “morph” with the beat as the different chorus, verse, bridges sections play along during your freestyle.
Even better, as you improve, you’ll be able to recognize when the assumed “chorus section” of the beat is coming and then you’ll truly be able to freestyle entire SONGS… which will take your freestyles to full on “GOD MODE” when it comes rapping.
How To Freestyle Rap Better Step #3: Freestyle A Chorus
This brings us to an important 3rd step in your freestyle rap abilities: practice freestyling a “hook” or “chorus” section in your flows.
As couple years back, when I was performing weekly on stage on a freestyle night with a live band over in Europe (Budapest, Hungary to be exact)…
One of the ways I was able to seamlessly meld with the live band’s music and other genres was that I knew the inherent song structures common to other genres, so when it was time for a “chorus” to come… even though I was freestyling spontaneously…
I was able to get the crowd full involved and even the BAND would get excited and engaged in the freestyle “song” that I had made…
…And to be clear, this wasn’t something I just did one time and knew to do it. I had practiced adding choruses to my off-the-top freestyles in the past and knew that once I knew the actual structure of a song, I could just follow the natural progressions of major songs and throw in a chorus there.
If you’d like to learn more about common song structures in rap, we have a free video course called “The Top 20 Songwriting Secrets of Professional Rappers” you can access for free by clicking HERE.
How To Freestyle Rap Better Step #4: Get Someone To Trade “Bars” With
Performing with others in the way that I mentioned in my personal experience there is another key to getting good at this.
Having someone to “share the weight” of a freestyle practice session is probably the one thing that took me from being an intermediate to ADVANCED freestyler.
What I mean by this is before then, I could freestyle enough to impress some friends who didn’t rap, but it wasn’t until I was able to freestyle WITH others that I really saw my abilities go into the stratosphere.
Now, let me be clear on this tip:
The person you PRACTICE with DOES NOT have to be a “real rapper”.
Many of my best and longest freestyle sessions were frankly with friends in their backyard after we had a few drinks and some other “horticultural supplements” to help the ideas keep flowing.
You’d be surprised how many friends are down to do some freestyles with you during a pregame or hangout session as long as you make it clear this isn’t to win a Grammy, it’s just to do something fun and get your creative juices flowing.
Of course, it would be IDEAL to have an actual rapper practice with you… which is something I did a lot as well…
But anybody else freestyling with you is good as well.
One of the reasons to freestyle rap with others is that it will take some of the burden off of you to think of freestyles for 3-5 minutes straight, because the concept would be you would be trading bars.
Without a doubt your ultimate goal is to be able to freestyle endlessly for as long as an hour like JuiceWrld was known to do…
…But in the short term, we want you to just be able to do freestyling without tripping up. One of the easiest ways to do this is to have someone you KNOW you’ll have to pass the baton to, so to speak, after a few bars.
Additionally, when you a freestyling with ANOTHER person, you’ll have the added advantage of ANOTHER person’s word choice, rhyme decisions, flows, etc. to IN REAL TIME get new ideas off of.
You wouldn’t BELIEVE how many GREAT flow and rhyme ideas I got for a beat or song just by hearing somebody else’s “take” on the same beat.
So, as I mentioned, use this step as something fun to spice up your freestyles, don’t worry about trying to find the next
to practice with, an open-minded and adventurous friend will do.
How To Freestyle Rap Better Step #5: Memorizing “Rhyme Schemes”
The last “unspoken secret” of learning how to freestyle rap better is that you should be memorizing the most common rhyme schemes that you’ll likely be landing on throughout your spontaneous freestyles.
While we at How To Rap Nation would consider it cheating memorize an entire pre-thought rap and then calling it a “freestyling”…
…Memorizing long schemes (or “chains”) of words that rhyme is not only extremely common within freestyling…
…It is the best way to guarantee you’ll have a smooth rap come out of you spontaneously when you start freestyling.
So, for example – let’s say that you know you’re going to likely to need to know a lot of words that rhyme with “rap flow” because when you’re freestyling you’re often bragging about how good your… rap flow is.
You can practice thinking of and writing out a bunch of words that rhyme with rap flow and “memorizing” them for future use:
- Rap Flow
- Stack Dough
It should be noted that in this example, I’m using “multisyllable rhyming”, a slightly more advanced rap concept where you rhyme MORE than just one syllable in a phrase in order to make the rap more complex…
…So instead of rhyming “rap flow” with “my dough” where only “flow” and “dough” rhyme…
I’m rhyming the first syllable of the rap as well, so “rap” and “stack” rhyme (in slanted form) as well as “flow” and “dough” rhyme.
In any case, what I would suggest is collecting maybe 10-20 words that you most commonly are going to need to rhyme with when you’re learning to freestyle.
One super hack I would use is memorizing the words that rhyme with your name, that rhyme with your city, that rhyme with rapping, spitting, etc.
This will come in handy when your friends in your local area want you to freestyle rap and you’re less likely to trip up because you have a mental “vault” of rhymes in your mind associated with the place you’re rapping in.
Let’s review the 5 steps to learn how to freestyle rap better that we discussed today:
- Step #1: “Spit Through Your Stumbles”
- Step #2: Freestyle Immediately
- Step #3: Freestyle A Chorus
- Step #4: Get Someone To Trade “Bars” With
- Step #5: Memorizing “Rhyme Schemes”
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