How To Rap Like Lil’ Wayne, Drake, & Nicki Minaj on “Seeing Green”

How To Rap Like Lil’ Wayne, Drake, & Nicki Minaj on “Seeing Green”

In today’s article, we’re going to show you the secrets to learn how to rap like Lil’ Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj one Nicki Minaj’s recent single, “Seeing Green”

We’re going to break down the bars from these icons using key creative decisions such as lyrical metaphors, vocal delivery, beat selection, and much more…

…So if you’re up-and-coming rapper looking to learn a bit from some of the greats, or if you’re just a fan of modern rap and want to “peak behind the curtain” and see the science of rap creation at YMCMB…

Then sit back, relax, and enjoy our break down our secrets of how to rap like Lil’ Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj on “Seeing Green”

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NOTE: Before we begin, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, “How To Rap” because we drop weekly videos on how to rap like the GOATs including everyone from Eminem to Jay-Z to more recent artists like Polo G and NBA YoungBoy…

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Secret #1: Beat Selection

Let’s start off by discussing the beat selection in “Seeing Green”

This track has a BIG, expansive production choice for a beat in the style of a mid-2000’s Just Blaze, Kanye West… 

Or in my mind, the closest comparison would be the work of The Heatmakerz with Dip Set

In fact, Dip Set’s direct influence on some of the GOAT level rappers today may be a trend to look out for in 2021…

As “Seeing Green” was dropped on the heels of J. Cole’s “The Off Season” which features an opening intro by none other than Killa Cam himself, in addition to a Hitmakerz style beat with Harlem-esque bars from Cole World. 

To get a similar tone for your instrumentals, you want to be sure scouring the interwebs for “Heatmakerz Type Beat”, “Just Blaze Type Beat”, or “Dip Set Type Beats”…

…Even though I know my producers out there usually DETEST the “type beat” culture that has developed on YouTube. Sorry beat makers, sometimes it really helps us rappers hone in on the sound we’re looking for!

Secret #2: Conversational Lyrical Structure 

Starting off with Weezy F. Baby himself’s verse, we see the introduction of a common lyrical tactic not only used by Wayne but Drake as well later in the track: 

Let me take this Balenciaga mask off to ask y’all: “Who asked y’all?”

Cita told me to stop my a$$ off, that’s all…

Bop-bop-bop-bop-bop, he good cat… “My bad, dog” 

Lil’ Wayne

Wayne here is using a conversational lyrical structure where rather than simply describing “what he will do to you” or his opponents… 

He is literally vocalizing the statements he would say directly to his opp, often using: 

  1. Second Person Framing
  2. Question Statements From A Simulated Conversation

Drake uses a similar framing for some of his lyrics in verse 3, when he says things like: 

Your girl was better in the morning like a slice of pizza 

That’s when I had to hit her with the, “Nice to meet ya”

You niggas think you doin’ damage, you just hypin’ me up

Face who? I could see a wall of y’all, all of y’all and run straight through

Drake
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Second Person Framing

The use of second person framing “you”, “yours”, “y’all”, etc. helps to add to the conversational nature of the threatening bars, while also allowing Drake and Wayne to slid in and out of “questioning statements” from the simulated conversation of the lyrics.

Think about it: 

When you’re talking to someone you dislike or an opp, you’re usually not saying “I really wanted to him”, or “I might just smack him around”… 

…You’re speaking DIRECTLY to them using “you”, “your” statements… and often threatening questions like, “Face WHO?” Or “WHO ASKED Y’ALL?”

So, by setting up their menacing bars in a conversational tone using 2nd person framing and questions, Wayne and Drake helped to add to the demonic feels of “Seeing Green”… 

The Influence of Hov

…As a bonus aside, I believe this conversational tone was particularly innovated (maybe not created, but innovated) by none other than Jay-Z himself with tracks like “Twenty-Two 2’s” and The “Friend or Foe” series. 

In those tracks, he uses the entire lyrical and narrative structure to threaten his opponents in a very specific second person, question-asking framework, so be sure to check out those tracks for study…

…And don’t forgot that all three rappers on “Seeing Green”, particularly Lil’ Wayne, have been consistent in giving their props to Jay as one of their influences. 

Secret #3: Melodic Vocal Tone To Match The Lyrics

Now mind you: the lyrics aren’t the only thing that add to the conversational nature of the verses, particularly in Wayne’s case. 

Re-listen to the way Wayne delivers some of these opening bars: 

Let me take this Balenciaga mask off to ask y’all: “Who asked y’all?”

Cita told me to stop my a$$ off, that’s all…

Bop-bop-bop-bop-bop, he good cat… “My bad, dog” 

Lil’ Wayne

Pay particular attention how he delivers those last lines of each bar. Listen to it five times in a row if it will help train your ears: 

HE IS LITERALLY ACTING OUT THE LINES AS IF HE WAS TALKING TO HIS ENEMIES. 

“Who asked y’all?” Is asked inquisitively like a REAL question. 

“That’s all…” is delivered like he is simply summing up his feelings.

“My bad, dog” is delivered like he’s actually sorry he had to kill dude. That’s what makes it sort of funny to hear him say that. 

One of the most ESSENTIAL ways of going from beginner to intermediate or intermediate to advanced as a rapper is being able to have a “vocal dexterity” and freedom to adjust your vocal tone to match the lyrical content. 

Even a bit later, when he says, “AS A MATTER FACT… I HAD TWO!” He literally sounds like he just thought of that additional fact. 

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Advanced Rap Concept: Vocal Dexterity 

Furthermore, pay attention to the second half of the verse, particularly the section that comes “and ever since the pandemic…” 

Weezy is using a very common, almost melodic with no singing “up and down” vocal tone here that sounds a bit like he’s recreating a Mardi Gras horn from his hometown of New Orleans

This is particularly effective for rappers who don’t plan to sing in a verse, but would still like the “melodic effect” of notes. 

What I would suggest is every time you’re recording your verse, both pay attention to see if you can answer these questions: 

  1. Am I delivering the lyrics in a tone faithful to the lyrical content? 
  2. Am I adding any cool “melodic hints” in my regular bars? 

Throwing these vocal styles in will help keep your verses entertaining from a vocal perspective, as Wayne does here. 

Secret #4: Homonyms and “Soundalikes”

Homonyms are two different words that are pronounced the same way, but have different meanings… 

Such as I “read” the book, and the color “red”… or I got “your” call and “you’re” going to call me back. 

Now rappers use those quite literally from time to time, but usually they use something more like “near homonyms” or what I prefer calling… “soundalikes” which are words that sound VERY similar… but have different meanings. 

In Nicki’s case, she starts her verse with: 

I am the star in any room that I stand in

I am the stand out, you just my stand-in 

Nicki Minaj

Nicki is making use of a literal homonym (again, two words or phrases that are pronounced the same but mean different things) with the “stand in” / “stand-in” reference… 

…But Drake does a “soundalike” or near homonym later in the song, with my personal favorite bar of the track: 

Trying to run a country like Putin one day but who’s rushin’ / Russian?

You could even argue that the “I should go cop a New Jersey, that’s word to Camden” bar is an adjusted homonym by Nicki

In any case, practicing your soundalikes and homonyms like those demonstrated by Nicki and Drake here will similarly take you from intermediate to advanced as a rapper. 

Pro tip: Every time you are writing a bar, try saying out loud a couple words to see if they are “close enough” in sound to another word that you could throw in a sound alike. 

Additionally, check out the King of The Dot rap battles, particularly those involving Charlie Clips and Conceited, as those rappers make extensive use of this tactic. 

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Secret #5: Extended Metaphors and Subliminals 

The last major trick I want to hip you to for learning how to rap like Lil’ Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj on “Seeing Green” is the use of extended metaphors and subliminal as a way to diversify your lyrical palette… 

In the case of Nicki, she repeatedly goes back to subliminal usage throughout her verse with lines like “These women copy my homework, that’s what they hand in”, “No one chick could be opp, that thought offends me”, and… “These women time tick-tockin’, better stick to dancin’” (notice how on that last one she uses a soundalike?) 

In any case, using subliminal like this has a hidden benefit that you might not have thought of as an up-and-coming artist, which is that it helps you create verses quicker by consistently having a topic to aim at…

…In this case, your enemies or people you don’t like, and that in turn helps you to write quicker. 

It can even help with writer’s block, as I’ve noticed when I am coming back to rap after a long break, I can just make a few songs about people I don’t like and the emotional power of writing about something you HATE can help you write quicker and stop the creative blockage… 

Extended Metaphors: Drake 

…Or, like Drake’s verse, you can start off with an extended metaphor such as basketball and weave it in throughout the verse… 

Drake starts the verse off by saying, “This ain’t gon’ be the first time that I do numbers on two crutches…”, starting off a basketball metaphor that will continue throughout his lyrics on “Seeing Green” with lyrics like… 

I play 48 minutes on a torn meniscus, who’s subbing?

El Chico luxury, wanna see my homies ball so bad, I started up a league, mess with me 

It’s all fun and games until I want to play too 

Drake

Now, in my eyes, using things like basketball metaphors helps Drake to appear as an imposing figure without having to go directly for “I’ll shoot you” bars, which he tries (and sometimes fails) to avoid since he’s not known as a street rapper…

…But it also allows him to really truly say two things at once. 

When he’s saying “do numbers on two crutches” or “I play 48 minutes on a torn meniscus, who’s subbing?” he’s essentially saying, “Even when I am injured, I’m carrying the whole team”… 

…Which I believe is a reference to that even when he loses a rap battle like most people would agree he did against Pusha T, he still had the best selling double-album in decades with Scorpion and was still on or near the top of the rap game in influence and notoriety. 

With that said, you as an artist should be keeping an eye out for opportunities to use extended metaphors and subliminal references throughout your verse to both help with your creative flow AND say many things about your career and lifestyle at the same time without wasting space in your verse. 



COMMENT: What’s your favorite bar on “Seeing Green”?

Drew Morisey, @drewmorisey on Instagram and Twitter

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