How To Start A Rap Verse: 4 Ways To INSTANTLY Rap Better

How To Start A Rap Verse: 4 Ways To INSTANTLY Rap Better

In today’s article, we’re going to provide with five ways on how to start a rap verse than INSTANTLY grabs your audience from the start.

We’ll provide you will real life examples from some of the greatest rappers of all-time including Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Biggie, and others…

…And we’ll give you an exciting combinations of ways to start a rap verse so that you’re never questioning how to begin your song in a way that INSTANTLY creates a dope track. 

Now, in addition to starting to verse properly, I’m sure you’ll want to know how to create an amazing rap song from start to FINISH as a prolific songwriter…

So be sure to cop our free songwriting course “The Top 20 Songwriting Secrets of Full-Time Rappers” by clicking HERE

…And be sure to subscribe with notifications to our YouTube channel, “How To Rap” by clicking HERE so that you can receive videos twice a week on how to rap better and become a full-time rap artist.

Our “How To Start A Rap Verse” YouTube Training!

How To Start A Rap Verse: Terms You Need To Know

Before we start with the five core concepts, let’s make sure that we know the difference between first person, second person, and third person, so that you can create MORE ideas from different perspectives and reach a larger audience: 

First person is when you are speaking from YOUR direct perspective, in other words… “I, me, mine, etc.”

Second person is when you are speaking TO somebody about their perspective, in other words… “You, yours, yourself, y’all”

…And third person is when you are talking ABOUT somebody else’s perspective, but not you or the listener directly… as in “they, his, her”, etc.

Each different terming can give a different vibe to the start of the verse.

When you are talking to somebody in second person, as in, “Y’ALL ACT LIKE…” or “YOU KNOW WHO IT IS”… it often sounds more like a call to attention or ordering someone… as opposed to first person… “I remember when I…” which sounds more like storytelling.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s start breaking into these key five ideas on how to start a rap verse:

1. Second Person + Describe Your Surroundings / Behaviors

Speaking directly to the listener or broader audience and describing your lifestyle in the form of your surroundings or how you act is one of the most common ways to start a rap verse.

The reason this is effective is because a rap is inherently a music that GRABS the audience’s attention and BRINGS THEM INTO A NEW WORLD.

If you want to sound like a confident rapper with a story to tell that people have never heard before, second person with an environment description is a great way to do it.

For example, Kendrick Lamar starts his song, “m.A.A.d City” with: 

“Brace yourself, I’ll take you on a trip down memory lane

This is not a rap on how I’m slingin crack or move cocaine

This is cul-de-sac and plenty Cognac and major pain

Not the drill sergeant, but the stress that weighing on your brain”

Kendrick Lamar, “m.A.A.d City”
How To Start A Rap Verse Kendrick
Kendrick knows how to describe his surroundings

Kendrick uses a mixture of second and first person here but we term it as second person since he immediately orders the audience to BRACE YOURSELF and follow him as he describes his surroundings… i.e., takes you down memory lane.

He then describes his behaviors in the form of telling you what he’s NOT going to rap about or what he DOESN’T DO. 

He is not going to be your stereotypical rapper on this song and just describing selling crack and moving weight.

On a similar but different tip, Eminem starts “The Real Slim Shady” in second person describing the environment of celebrity culture in the early 2000s as embodied by Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee

“Y’all act like you never seen a white person before

Jaws all on the floor like Pam like Tommy just burst in the door

And started whoopin’ her ass worse than before

They first were divorced, throwin’ her over furniture (Agh!)”

Eminem, “The Real Slim Shady”

In this case, Eminem is setting up the “universe” you’re about to live in this song by describing the wild antics of celebrity culture and how people can’t believe how wild Shady is when describing it.

So, one really good way to start a rap verse is talk to your audience in YOU, Y’ALL, YOURSELF form (second person) and set the tone for what kind of artist you’re going to be on the track…

…Will you a celebrity joking prankster like early Eminem, a non-stereotypical lyricist like Kendrick, something else?

2. First Person + Introduce Your Behavior / Character

Another common way to start your rap verse is to speak in first person and describe what KIND of a person you are. 

So, for example rather than ORDERING your audience to listen, brace themselves, or telling them how they act in the first example… you can simply say… “When I do this… this happens…” or “When I’m here… I get this sort of reaction”.

To develop this further let’s look at how 50 Cent started his verse on “In Da Club”

“When I pull out up front, you see the Benz on dubs

When I roll twenty deep, it’s twenty knives in the club

Niggas heard I fuck with Dre, now they want to show me love

When you sell like Eminem, and the hoes they want to fuck”

50 Cent, “In Da Club”
How To Start A Rap Verse 50 Cent
50 Cent is a menace in the club

In this case, 50 begins by describing that when he enters the club, people will see or react to certain aspects of his character or behavior… 

Such as the expensive cars, weapons, and his celebrity friends like Dre and Eminem.

Dr. Dre uses a similar style to begin his classic, “Still D.R.E.” by describing the fact that when he goes back to his local area, people immediately know he’s around from the bass in his cars:

“It’s still Dre Day nigga, AK nigga

Though I’ve grown a lot, can’t keep it home a lot

‘Cause when I frequent the spots that I’m known to rock

You hear the bass from the truck when I’m on the block”

Dr. Dre, “Still D.R.E.”

So, in example number 2, you can start a verse by thinking of other people’s reactions to you when you enter your environment, and what that says about you as a person and an artist… 

Much like 50’s menacing presence when he enters the club, or Dre’s well known musical excellence when he comes back to Compton.

3. First Person + Introduce Yourself + Behaviors

This is another variation of tip #2.

One of the most underrated ways of starting a verse is simply spelling out your name in an interesting or unique way and then rolling into a description of your behaviors and environment.

If you see a common theme here, often what you want to do it set the audience’s expectation of if you’re talking to THEM… talking about someone ELSE… or talking about YOURSELF…

…And then start describing things!

Now, Jay-Z does this seamlessly in his legendary song, “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”:

“H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A

For shizzle, my nizzle, used to dribble down in VA

Was herbing ’em in the home of the Terrapins

Got it dirt cheap for them… plus if they was

Short with cheese I would work with them”

Jay-Z, “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”
How To Start A Rap Verse Jay-Z
Jay-Z knows how to make an introduction

Here Jay-Z starts with his name, uses first person, and then describes how he would go about running drug deals in Maryland. 

In “Nuthin’ But A G Thang”, Snoop Dogg starts the record by counting and then immediately introducing himself and Dr. Dre before ordering the audience to “back up” because it’s about to get real.

“One, two, three and to the fo’

Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the do’

Ready to make an entrance, so back on up

(‘Cause you know about to rip shit up)”

Snoop Doggy Dogg, “Nuthin’ But A G Thang”

By now you should notice that one of the biggest commonalities with starting a verse well is some sort of CONFIDENT DESCRIPTION often with some for an ORDER or COMMAND.

The more you can command you audience LITERALLY… the more you can command them MUSICALLY.

4. First Person + Your Aspirations

Other than just telling your audience about your behaviors or your surroundings, you can alternatively describe in first person what you DREAM or DREAMED about on your come up.

So the first few bars of your rap can tell people how you always wanted to gain a material item, or how you always listened to a certain type of music for success, or something like that.

In “Juicy”, by The Notorious B.I.G., he tells us: 

“It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! magazine

Salt-n-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine

Hangin’ pictures on my wall

Every Saturday Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl”

The Notorious B.I.G., “Juicy”
How To Start A Rap Verse Biggie
Biggie put us in his world

So here is a first person description of how he used to dream about being on the same level of his favorite rappers. 

Similarly, J. Cole tells us that him (or the person he’s describing) wanted to get rich as a youngster in the start of a “A Tale of Two Citiez”

“Since a youngin’ always dreamed of gettin’ rich

Look at me my nigga

Fantasize about a white picket fence

With some trees my nigga

Used to want a pathfinder with some tints

Thats all I need my nigga”

J. Cole, “A Tale of Two Citiez”

In your case, the best way to exploit this is thing if your wildest dreams as a rapper in three separate ways: financially, socially, and musically.

  • Financially what looks like success to you? Millions of dollars or just enough to feed your family?
  • Socially do you want to be the biggest artists or impact people more on a personal level?
  • Musically who are your influences and what records changed your life, as Biggie mentioned at the start of his verse?

Jog your mind to a get clear vision of success and then describe it in first person to start your verse.


Conclusion: 

Let’s look at the separate ways we discussed to start your verse: 

1. Second Person + Describe Your Surroundings / Behaviors

2. First Person + Introduce Your Behavior / Character

3. First Person + Introduce + Behaviors

4. First Person + Your Aspirations



This is NOT the last time we will give you ideas on how to start a rap verse, so:

COMMENT: What is YOUR rap song of all time?

We might break it down on the next article to help give you more ideas!

Drew Morisey, @drewmorisey on Instagram and Twitter

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