How To Write A Dope Rap Song, Step-By-Step
In today’s article, we’re going to show you the exact method on how to write a dope rap song, step-by-step.
If you read this all the way through the end, you’ll know exactly what steps you need to write a dope rap song, including:
- Whether to start with the chorus or not
- When to “switch your rap flow” in the verse
- How to use mixing and vocal tone to make the song more fire
…And much more.
As the YouTube’s most subscribed and first full-time professional rap coaching company, we polled our audience the other day and found that almost half of all viewers would like more information on how to write a dope rap song…
…So we’re delivering this step-by-step guide with confidence that the rap tips and live song examples in this easy to follow guide will lead you in the write direction if your main goal is to learn how to write a dope rap song, step-by-step. So let’s get into it.
Step #1 Listen To The Beat and Decide Chorus Placement
The first step is to listen to the beat and identify where you’d like to place the chorus.
The chorus is the “creative centerpiece” of the song.
With this in mind, the producer is likely to program the chorus to a specific place in the instrumental in order to contribute to the rapper’s ability to create a memorable and exciting feeling for the audience in this crucial section of the track.
In order to do that, the producer may add instruments such as horns, strings, or additional drums to help indicate to both the rapper and the audience that this is the “catchy part”.
In the case of the example we’ll be using throughout this article, I decided to start the song with the chorus, since the beat has a very short intro with no drums, and then an emphatic “beat drop” the leads us into the main beat itself:
Waiting for my future like the number 9
Lockdown leading through the summer time
Whole team hustle how we come alive
Whole team hustle – what would you do?
Lockdown showing up to bruise you
Lockdown holding up the true you
Lockdown hustle or they’ll use you
What would you do?“Lockdown Hustle” Chorus
Notice how beginning the chorus the minute that beat drops after a quick intro, the listener is instantly transported into the universe the rapper is creating for them.
The producer helped guide me as a writer to make this creative decision by dropping the drums immediately at the beginning, however as we’ll see in step #2… the pressure is now on me (and thus you) to write a memorable chorus.
Step #2 Write A Memorable Chorus
Now that you’ve read the chorus, let’s look at three main areas that a “memorable chorus”, also known as a “hook” in the industry often needs to be considered memorable:
- “Core Concept”
- Simple Phrasing
First, let’s look at the “Core Concept”. That’s the main topic, subject matter, or idea of the song.
In the case of our example, entitled “Lockdown Hustle”, you can see by lyrics such as “lockdown leading through the summer time” and “lockdown hustle or they’ll use you” that the core concept has something to do with what you can do during lockdown (this song was written in summer 2020).
By repeatedly using keywords such as “lockdown”, “hustle”, and “summer”, I’m subtly indicating to the audience that the core concept of the song is around working hard during the times you’re in lockdown.
Additionally, by using simple, easy to understand keywords such as “lockdown” and “hustle” (literally the title of the song), I (and therefore you when you write your rap song) make it easier for a wide audience to understand the concept.
You can have all the lyrical miracle bars you want in the verses if you’d like, but by utilizing simpler phrasing in the chorus, you vastly improve the chances a large group of fans from around the world will remember the track.
I mean even without hearing the song, I bet you can take a good guess on what a song called “Lockdown Hustle” would be about.
Lastly for step #2, by repeating those phrases over and over again, I’m making it easier for the audience to remember the lyrics of the chorus and thus the concept of the song.
The easier a song is to remember, the more likely it is to be termed as “catchy” by the audience, and that all comes down to repetition.
Indeed, studies in musical science demonstrate that arguably the most crucial aspect to a song outside of its actual melody is the amount of thoughtful repetition used across the track.
Therefore it’s your job when learning how to create a dope rap song what lyrics you should repeat and where you should place them.
Let’s move onto the actual first verse after the end of the chorus, but before we do if chorus placement, what to make your hooks about, and choosing a beat are issues for you in song structure… pick up our free video course The Top 20 Songwriting Secrets of Full-Time Rappers where we’ll give you more in-depth guidance on topics by clicking HERE.
Step #3 Decide On A “Starting Flow” For Verse 1
Now that we’ve written our chorus, we next want to start off verse 1 with an identifiable “flow” to draw the listener in.
The easiest way to think of rap flow is “drum patterns in word form”, in other words, the rhythm of the lyrics you’re rapping.
In a later step, we’ll use that flow we decide for verse 1 as a guide for what flow we want for verse 2, but for write now just pick a flow you think would be cool to start the first verse, and write that out:
I was built for sh*t like this
I got the will to flip a crisis
It’s either kill or live lifeless
Now my drive up, it’s like dealership prices…
I ain’t turn zen b*tch, still I grip vices
Vice grip, tight hits, every tip’s midas“Lockdown Hustle” Verse 1 Start
If you notice, the flow I chose here is sort of a slow-to-mid-tempo rhythm, likely inspired by a lot of Nipsey Hussle records I was listening to at the time.
In your case, it’s more important for you to DECIDE on A FLOW rather than overthink it rather than emulating what you just read there…
…Or getting your mind paralyzed with writer’s block. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself initially simply get the first 4-5 bars out as quickly as possible.
Even better, if “deciding on a flow” is a big issue for you, click HERE to watch our free training on exactly what rap flow to choose for particular beats that are thrown your way.
Once you’ve gotten out those first few bars… it’s time to complete verse 1:
Step #4 Complete Verse 1
Usually, it’s a good rule of thumb to switch the flow (again, the rhythm of your words) every four bars or so, so after that initially “Nipsey Flow” I used in the beginning of verse 1…
I go for a more “rhyme heavy” slightly faster set of bars to round out the verse:
“I am the hottest in the demo
With wind inside the limo
To chill my vibe and mental
Brother I’m the kind to see a win the times I been low
How my inner calm done got me intercontinental…
You tell me… (Chorus)”“Lockdown Hustle” End of Verse 1
The important thing to remember here is that you SHOULD switch the flow often within your verses, and what better time to do that when you complete verse 1?
Additionally, you’ll want to switch the flow at times such as the beginning of verse 2, which is described in the next step…
Step #5 Choose An “Opposite Flow” For Verse 2
Now for this example we’re actually going to use a separate track to demonstrate what using the “opposite flow” for verses 1 and 2 sounds like.
In this case, I begin verse 1 with a simple “end-of-the-bar” rhyming scheme and then for verse 2 I “stack rhymes” back to back much like we demonstrated in step #4:
Verse 1 Beginning:
I belong here like a Marley
I want 40 mil ‘fore I turn 40
I won’t sign for the price ‘cause I’m nice
I need gifts in the clause ‘cause I’m naughty
Verse 2 Beginning:
He’s adios when I need vamenos
20 bad broads… Beans and the folks
Wonder where he gone?
He ain’t leave any notes
Baby, he’s on a boat like he’s DiCaprio…“Never Coming Down” Quotes
Notice how by starting verse 1 with that simple flow, the decision to start verse 2 with a faster, more rhyme-intensive flow was easier for me as a writer?
Therefore the quickest hack to learning how to write a dope rap song is mastering your ability to handle any issues you have once you’ve completed verse 1 and the chorus.
Step #6 Crush The “Verse 2 Blues”
That issue of pushing through writer’s block on verse 2 (or sometimes even the chorus itself) is what we call “Verse 2 Blues”.
This is where you’ve written a great verse 1 and chorus, but then your mind goes blank due to the internal pressure of wanting to be “as good as your last bars”.
If you are a beginner or intermediate rapper, it’s like you will or have experienced this in the past.
Our suggestion is first use a trick such as the “opposite flow” method we’ve described above…
But to round this out, let’s give you 3 more quick-tips to help you finish the song and crush the verse 2 blues:
- Record What You Have Written
- Insert A Bridge
- Re-Order The Beat
Record What You Have Written
The first option if you are experiencing “verse 2 blues” to record what you’ve already written.
In other words, take a break from the creatively intense process of actually “writing rap” and record what you have and hear how it sounds.
Often, this will spur you on to just complete the song once you can actually hear that you’re already done.
Insert A Bridge
Another option is to fill the first few bars of “verse 2” with a bridge.
A bridge is a third section of the song that is usually more complex than the chorus and simpler than the verse.
A very well-known example of this would be the “You know how long I been on you, since Prince was on Apolonia” bridge of Kanye West’s song “Stronger”.
We go more in-depth into bridge construction in our free rap songwriting course HERE, so pick that up…
…But also we have a really good J. Cole breakdown discussing bridges which you can find HERE as well.
By writing in a bridge during the start of the 2nd verse, you often shorten how much more “verse writing” you have to do, which is usually helpful for you to crush the verse 2 blues.
Re-Order The Beat
The last option to crush verse 2 blues is to re-order the beat to a section that is easier to write to.
In that case, much like the beginning of this training, you can identify a unique section of the beat the producer programmed in, and put that at the start of verse 2.
Be sure however that you have the proper licensing and beat rights to manipulate the instrumental before you do this if you plan to release the track for profit…
…Because often producer will require a bit more money upfront to allow you to change what was initially THEIR unique musical output.
In any case, by doing it that way, you allow yourself to hear the instrumental will fresh ears and open up the opportunity for you to dominate any verse 2 blues or writer’s block you may be experiencing.
The final thing you should walk away with in this training is that learning how to write a dope song is a step-by-step process that you CAN master.
You should feel free to come back to this training any time you’re having difficulty, and understand that this is a skill that CAN BE mastered.
We have provided you with free trainings on further study if you’d like to go deeper, and we will continue to release information on how to write dope rap songs more often.