How To Write Rap Punchlines: The 5 Secrets To Rap Wordplay

How To Write Rap Punchlines: The 5 Secrets To Rap Wordplay

In today’s article, we’re going to show you the 5 secrets to knowing how to write a rap punchline while rhyming basically every bar.

The 5 secrets to rap wordplay will include live examples with actual rap punchlines and music throughout this training, and although this might seem like an intimidating task to not only learn but to reproduce yourself… 

We’re confident that after having coached 1,000’s of rappers from around the world personally as well as having close to half a million subscribers on our channel “How To Rap”… 

…That if you’ve been looking an easy-to-follow guide on the science. Of rap wordplay and how to accomplish the act of learning how to write rap punchlines while rhyming every bar…

This will be an excellent step-by-step roadmap for you from beginning to end, so let’s get into it.

Secret #1 “Soundalikes”

The first secret to knowing how to write a rap punchline and improving your rap wordplay is using a lot of what we like to call, “soundalikes”

…Which the academic (or school term) is known as a homonym

These are two words that have different means but may sound exactly when spoken (or in this case) rapped aloud. 

Let’s read the first few bars of the example track and identify where the “soundalike”, or homonym is: 

I belong here like a Marley

I want 40 mil’ ‘fore I turn 40

I won’t sign for that price ‘cause I’m nice…

I want gifts in the clause ‘cause I’m naughty

“Never Coming Down” 1st Verse

Can you identify where the “soundalike” phrase is? There’s a hint in the Marley reference…

Boom: the word “here” is a soundalike for “hair”. They’re used as homonyms in this case.

Therefore when the song says: “I belong here like a Marley” the wordplay is in the soundalike for HAIR… hence “I belong hair like a Marley”.

Similes Work Well With Soundalikes

The simile “like a Marley” is the hint there’s wordplay in there, and utilizing similes along with soundalikes packs a powerful punch. 

They improve the chances both that your listener will “catch” the line, and that you can have a humorous lyrical connection with the bar. 

Later in the track, there’s a bar that goes… “It’s still process, so I talk less… I got to make the grams last like I’m Aubrey” with the soundalike being ‘gram’ as in scientific grams for that stuff…

…And Graham as in the LAST name of Aubrey Graham… also known as Drake.

However – don’t feel like you NEED to have a simile in order to accomplish a good “soundalike”… 

Check out this bar from Eminem on his song “Campaign Speech” where he impersonates a politician throughout much of the song: 

“Gettin’ off is…

The first thing I want to do once I get in office”

Notice how he utilizes the “off is” and “office” homonym, or soundalike in that bar without the need for a simile. 

Get creative with your use of soundalikes. Sometimes have a simile and sometimes don’t. 

Now, the next line in the rap goes, “I want 40 mil’ ‘fore I turn 40…” which utilizes another key secret in your ability to write rap wordplay… 

So let’s roll into that:

Secret #2: Prefix Play

I belong here like a Marley

I want 40 mil’ ‘fore I turn 40

I won’t sign for that price ‘cause I’m nice…

I want gifts in the clause ‘cause I’m naughty

“Never Coming Down” Verse 1

Now that we’ve begun the track with a nice soundalike, what we’re doing here is playing around with the “prefixes” or the beginning of words, what we call a prefix play.

Sometimes the best ways to give “wordplay” without changing the meanings of this as we did at the start is to find words with similar beginnings (or prefixes to use a school term) and play around with them. 

In this case, we have stated, “I want 40 million dollars” “before” I turn “40”… playing on the prefix of the number FOUR by cutting the word “before” into simply, “‘fore”. 

This may seem very intense for one article, but don’t worry over time you will get better…

…And if you don’t want to just “one article” teaching you these frameworks, click HERE to check out our Infinite Rhyme Maker course which comes as a free bonus on that page which will give you years worth of ideas on how to speed up your wordplay and rhyming processes… 

But in a minute on the same track we actually use a “prefix play” yet again, check it out:

But when you seen me on the tour… wasn’t for free

Started beating on the door ’til the door creaked 

Went from sleeping on the floor to the floor seats 

“Never Coming Down” Verse 1

Therefore, before we go on to the next secret, let’s bookmark for you that you can do MULTIPLE ways of playing around with beginning of words and phrases: 

You can turn words like “before” into “‘fore” to play with the number 40… or you can play around with the statement “sleeping on the floor” and then use the phrase “floor seats” in the same line to show your come up.

Secret #3: Double-Entendres (Double Meanings)

Now, already you should see there are a WEALTH of different concepts you can use to learn how to write a rap punchline…

…However we’re sure you’ve been waiting for some might call the “holy grail” of rap wordplay that almost everyone knows: the double-entendre.

Double-entendres are the times where you give a word or phrase an initial context (or original meaning) and then quickly within the rap… give a second meaning to the word at the same time. 

Re-read the first few bars: 

I want 40 mil’ ‘fore I turn 40

I won’t sign for that price, ‘cause I’m NICE

I want gifts in the CLAUSE ‘cause I’m naughty

And I be leaking all my songs ‘cause I’m saucy

But when you seen me on the tour… wasn’t for free”

“Never Coming Down” Verse 1

Can you recognize the double-entendre present in those bars? Which word is?

Hint: think of Christmastime. 

Okay, got it? Yes indeed… it’s the word CLAUSE.

Meaning A: Legal Clause

What we’ve done here is first set up the original meaning or context, which is that I, the rapper, wants money for their raps. I’m negotiating more funds for my bars. I’m signing a record deal or getting money from a company.

That’s context #1 by saying lines like, “I want 40 mil’ ‘fore I turn 40… I won’t sign for that price, ‘cause I’m nice, I want gifts in the CLAUSE”

Clause in that case means a legal clause in a contract. Gifts in that context means MORE money… “I want gifts in the clause” i.e., I want more money or perks within the legal clause or contract.

Meaning B: Christmas Gifts 

Context #2 is a Christmas metaphor or meaning, exemplified by both the “gifts” phrasing and the expression (or idiom) which we’ll cover in a second “naughty or nice”…

And therefore in that case, clause is the last name of Santa CLAUSE… again indicating to the listener by having it next to the word “gifts” that there’s a double-entendre there. 

Let’s move on to Secret #4, however just to lock this in… 

Notice that the very next line also includes a double-entendre on the word “leaking”: “I be leaking all my songs ‘cause I’m saucy”… meaning I leak my songs as in release them for free… but also a play on the expression “saucy”, I got the sauce, etc.

Secret #4: “Expressions / Idioms” 

The next secret to rap wordplay and how to write a punchline we use is what is called in school an “idiom” but you can also just think of as an expression. 

So for example if I say, “a penny saved is a penny earned” that’s a common expression… that’s not meant to taken literally, but it represents an idea of a behavior or a situation. 

Every single language has many idioms and expressions that you can play with, and in fact many major hits are based off of them such as “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” by Eminem (a play on the idiom of “skeletons in the closet”) or “Stronger” by Kanye West (a play on the idiom “that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”). 

Now in our case, we play with the Christmas related expression or “idiom”, “who’s naughty or nice” in our bar to give the double-entendre we talked about in Secret #4: 

I want 40 mil’ ‘fore I turn 40

I won’t sign for that price, ‘cause I’m NICE

I want gifts in the CLAUSE ‘cause I’m naughty

And I be leaking all my songs ‘cause I’m saucy

But when you seen me on the tour… wasn’t for free

Started beating on the door ’til the door creaked 

Went from sleeping on the floor to the floor seats

“Never Coming Down” Verse 1

Within this section we actually have two idioms worth noticing: 

“Who’s naughty or nice” and “beating on the door”

In both cases, these are non-literal statements meant to represent an idea. 

We’ve already covered the naughty or nice line quite a bit, but be sure to also notice the usage of “beating on the door” as an expression…

…Which lyrically helps tighten up the concept that I’m a rapping who’s getting what’s due in the game, developed through lines like “I won’t sign for that price”… “I want 40 mil’”and so on” 

Secret #5 Bring It All Together 

Let’s round up this training by demonstrating how it all comes together. 

Yes, the answer the question you want to ask: should I be doing all of this? Is yes. 

Let’s check out the end of the verse and quickly breakdown how multiple secrets are used at once: 

Started beating on the door ’til the door creaked 

Went from sleeping on the floor (IDIOM) to the floor seats

You see the progress every PROJECT… (DOUBLE-ENTENDRE)

They be thinking that it’s Marcy… it’s Morisey 

It’s still a process, so I talk less…

Got to make the grams (SOUNDALIKE) last like I’m Aubrey 

And ah yes, I’ll be an IS…(SOUNDALIKE)

It’s a strikethrough, then I always eye-S (SOUNDALIKE)

You can find who and the guy I is (SOUNDALIKE)

I’m always times two if it’s five times ten… (100) 

“Never Coming Down” Verse 1

Here we start off with the idiom “sleeping on the floor” we’ve already discussed…

We move on to the double-entendre of “project” as in a record of music, hence “you see progress every project”… 

However it also means housing projects “Marcy Projects” since in the next bar I’m correcting people that my name isn’t “MARCY” or it’s Morisey… 

We also have the soundalike of “grams last” that we discussed in secret #1… 

And then we end with an extended set of soundalikes… with “IS”… “eye-S”, and “I is”. Just to clear that up: “IS” is a Lexus car, hence “I’ll be in an IS”… 

“It’s a strike-through then I always eye-S” means any time there is a strikethrough the letter S, I’m eyeing it… a.k.a. a DOLLAR SIGN…

And “the guy I is” is pretty self-explanatory. 

Conclusion 

Now, we’ve given you a LOT to work with on this training. We have additionally trainings specifically on punchlines such as THIS one…

…And be sure if you want a more step-by-step personal coaching program, to click HERE to get that Infinite Rhyme Maker course as a free bonus on the page. 

COMMENT: Can you think of any examples of the secrets from your FAVORITE rapper’s punchlines? 

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