The Best Times To Write A Catchy Rap Hook

The Best Times To Write A Catchy Rap Hook

In today’s article, we’re going to teach you how to write a catchy rap hook by identifying the best times your writing process as a rapper to start writing the chorus. 

I’ve been coaching rappers from around the world since 2014 from amateur hobbyists all the way to rap artists getting record deals and full-time touring gigs… 

So I feel that this content will be beneficial to you regardless of skill level.

So, If you are an up-and-coming artist interested in making your ability to write a rap chorus automatic and effortless… 

Or an experienced artist looking to spice up your creative writing rap process, this is the article for you. 

Our “How To Write A Catchy Rap Hook” YouTube Training

NOTE: Before we begin, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, “How To Rap” with notifications because we have over 6 years of step-by-step tutorials on how to become a rapper… and if songwriting is a main priority for you, be sure to pick up our free video course, “How To Write A Rap In Under 20 Mins.” so that you can learn how to write quality raps consistently practically on demand!

3. Identify Where The Producer “Wants” You To Place The Chorus 

The first excellent time to write a catchy rap hook is by identifying where the producer “wants” you to place the chorus. 

When I say, “want” I am referring to the place that the producer has pre-programmed in the inherent song structure of the beat that most artists will LIKELY place the chorus.

Now, in a moment I’m going to show you exactly how producers for major artists like Roddy Ricch and Jack Harlow basically musically “TOLD THE RAPPERS” where to put their hit choruses for songs like “The Box” and “What’s Poppin’”… 

But for now, understand that rules are meant to be learned in order to be broken, so don’t feel REQUIRED to place the chorus in the place I’m about to show you, so if you want to know some of the ways to identify where the chorus usually goes, based on programming…

“Tension and Release”

…First look to the part of the beat where it feels like some sort of “tension” is released after a built up of energy. 

To flesh this out, part of the allure of classic song structure both in pop music and rap more specifically is the build up of “tension-and-release” that comes from the accumulation of energy in the verse to build “tension” and the RELEASE that comes from a catchy hook. 

Think about your favorite catchy songs that get you hype and you want to sing along too… 

I would almost guarantee that one of the most exciting parts of that song is the feeling you have when you want to BELT OUT the chorus after rapping along to the verse. 

That feeling to “belt out” the chorus is the feeling of “release” that you feel after the build up of energy in the verse. 

Are Instruments Added or Subtracted? 

Additionally, be sure to listen in for a notable ADDITION or SUBTRACTION of instruments as an indication of where the producer probably EXPECTS you to put a chorus.

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Added Instruments: Strings, Horns, etc.

For added instruments to the beat, this usually this comes in the form of the addition of instruments like strings or horns to beat to add to that EPIC RELEASE OF TENSION feeling.

A really good example is in “The Box” by Roddy Ricch. If you listen to the “I just hit a lick with the box” section of the hook, epic strings become introduced to the beat right at that section. This was likely an indication the producer wanted the artist to add a chorus there. 

Subtracted Instruments: “The Drop” 

On the other hand, it’s also common for an instrument to be SUBTRACTED from the beat in the form of a “drop” for the indication of where the chorus should go.

Take “What’s Poppin’” by Jack Harlow. If you listen closely, right when he says “What’s poppin’? Brand new whip just hopped in”… 

You can clearly identify the SUBTRACTION of the 808 drum at “What’s poppin’” which helps accentuate and ironically RELEASE tension from the rapid-fire flow of the verse… 

To help build Jack Harlow’s ability to write a catchy rap chorus. 

2. The First 30 Seconds You Hear The Beat For The First Time

Now before the end of this article, I want to be sure to show you exactly write a catchy rap chorus when you are experiencing WRITER’S BLOCK or feel “STUCK” in your songwriting process…

…But let’s first cover how to write a catchy rap hook the INSTANT you hear the beat for the first time. 

Another very common trick that I personally use is to take a “chorus-first” writing mentality so that I run NO risk of getting stuck. 

Modern Songs: Chorus-First 

The first mindset to help along this process is to understand that the vast majority of rap songs in the 21st century first START with a chorus as the very first thing that listeners HEAR. 

In other words, where as in the 1990’s and 2000’s it was totally acceptable to rap an entire 16-bar verse or even just a full minute of rap before introducing a chorus…

…Audience attention spans have shortened and so they are attuned to “expect” a chorus within about 30 seconds of hearing the song. 

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“Write Like A Listener”

You can use this reality to your advantage and essentially, “write like a listener” by WRITING YOUR CHORUS THE SECOND YOU HEAR THE BEAT.

Mos Def famously once told his Black Star compatriot Talib Kweli that the best way to deliver a rap was with the same level of intensity and passion that he FELT as a listener when he first heard the beat.

That mentality extends to you as a writer as well. 

Often, the very first seconds that I hear a bit… I START MUMBLING A BASICALLY CHORUS-LIKE FLOW and focus on thinking about how I’m going to make the chorus start the song off. 

This will help you to write songs quicker because once you have a nice solid chorus that you’ve completed by writing it FIRST…

…Then you know you’ll just have the joy of “filling the song in” with dope, lyrical (or fun, enjoyable) bars and will NOT run into any sort of writer’s block along the way… 

…That is, unless of you write into the “verse 2 blues” which we cover in-depth if you click HERE. 

1. After Verse 1 is Fully Written AND Recorded 

Now on the flip side, as promised, let’s cover if you HAVE already written verse 1 and feel like you’re STUCK or pressured to come up with a chorus as good as the verse. 

My personal hack for this is RECORD what you already have WRITTEN for verse 1 and get a really good HIGH QUALITY take…

…AND then take the time to write out your chorus after listening to a high quality version of what’s already written. 

The trick here is that, much like the “write like a listener” concept, if you already have your verse 1 recorded in a high quality delivered take, you are HEARING the song as a listener…

…And then can experiment with different chorus concepts next to that. 

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Buy Yourself Time

You can walk around the room and mumble 100 different “iterations” or versions of a possible chorus. 

You can record 4-5 different POSSIBLE hooks for yourself. You can go and get some food and come back to it.

You can do a million different things in order to land on the best possible catchy rap hook to help make the song great. 

The idea here is that you are giving yourself the opportunity to build the foundation of the house of the song by having your verse 1 essentially fully complete before thinking of the chorus. 

Sometimes this is the best option for artists who find themselves always feeling “stuck” or “pressured” to write a chorus from the very beginning. 

You can record everything you already have written and then RETURN to what’s needed to be filled in. 

The important thing to remember with all of these tips, however, is to “write like a listener” and land on the chorus that’s most likely to get the fans saying “I LIKE THAT LET IT ROCK” rather than just the old “That’s cool… you doing your thing” BS response! 

Conclusion: Write A Catchy Rap Hook

Let’s review what we discussed here: 

3. Identify Where The Producer “Wants” You To Place The Chorus 

The first excellent time to write a catchy rap hook is by identifying where the producer “wants” you to place the chorus with changes in instrumentation and/or tension and release principles. 

2. The First 30 Seconds You Hear The Beat For The First Time

You can “write like a listener” and immediately roll into a creating a catch rap hook the first SECOND you hear a beat much like a modern listener would hear the song for the first time. 

1. After Verse 1 is Fully Written AND Recorded 

You can record verse 1 in full and THEN write a chorus to buy yourself time to reflect and get a perspective on how the song is likely to sound. 

COMMENT: What is the CATCHIEST chorus of the 2010’s?

Drew Morisey, @drewmorisey on Instagram and Twitter