Writing Rap Lyrics: How to Structure Your Verses

Freestyle rap can be fun, but it’s not the same as writing your rap ahead of time. But if you do want to write a rap, you need to know how to structure it. And since you will probably have a few verses, they’re especially important.

When structuring a rap verse, write out some thoughts or ideas, but don’t worry if they fit in the rap. Then, take those thoughts and rephrase them to fit the beat of the rap verse. Each verse will be a little different, so don’t be afraid to get creative.

Whether you’re new to rapping or want to move from freestyle to written rap, you should structure your verses well. Then, you will be able to memorize your raps more easily, and your fans can rap along with you. Consider the various parts of a rap as you structure your verses.

Overall Rap Structure

To structure your verses, you should know how they fit in with the rest of a rap. While you can get creative with the format, most raps follow the same layout. If you’re new to writing rap lyrics, practice with the standard rap structure, then you can branch out later.

Many raps have some sort of introduction, which transitions into the first verse. The first verse sets the tone for your entire rap, so you should put a lot of thought into it.

After the first verse, you’ll move into the chorus, which you can have multiple times in one rap. Some rappers will have a pre-chorus that helps with the transition, but it isn’t necessary.

Next, you’ll have the second verse. It can have the same melody and rhythm as the first verse, but the words should build off the first.

The chorus will come back after the second verse, and you won’t make any changes to the chorus.

After that, you can include a third verse, which is on the same topic as the first and second verses. But you can use it to add more details to your rap.

Next, you can write a bridge, which is similar to a verse, but it might have a different melody and rhythm. Finally, you’ll have the chorus again.

If you follow the standard rap structure, you will need to write three separate verses. They should all share a theme, and you can use the following verses to build off the prior ones. Then, you can write each verse so that they flow well with each other and the chorus.

A simple rap recipe you can follow

Brainstorm Ideas for Lyrics

As you start writing a rap, you should brainstorm some ideas for the topic or theme of the song. You don’t want your first verse to be about making money, while the second is about your friends. Before you try to write a verse, write out your thoughts.

Consider what types of things you want to rap about and list them on a sheet of paper. If you find a few themes that go together, you can work with those to create a song. You can also keep a running list of rap ideas on your phone so that you can type something out whenever you get an idea.

It can be frustrating to deal with writer’s block but try not to force yourself to write lyrics. You may need to spread your brainstorming out over a couple of days. Whenever you have a free moment, think of an idea or two.

Once you have some ideas to use in a rap, you can start to organize them based on the rap structure. You can figure out what to say for your chorus and each verse.

Determine Your Chorus

If you have a rap idea that you want to use, you can write your chorus. While you can write your verses first, your chorus is what brings everything together. Once you write your chorus, you can make sure all of your verses flow in and out of the chorus easily.

Your chorus will serve as the focal point of your rap, and it’s probably the part that your fans will learn and rap to. It won’t matter if you have a fantastic verse if the chorus doesn’t match up. You can change the chorus as you write each of the verses.

Perhaps you realize that you have to take the rap in a different direction than you thought. Or maybe you write a verse that contradicts the original chorus. However, you want to start with a chorus so that you have some reference material for writing your verses.

Then, you can outline the specific material you want to include in each verse. You can make sure the topics fit together, and you can use those themes to write the rest of the rap.

Find Themes

As you outline your rap, you should notice certain themes within the overall topic. If you’re writing about making money, you may have points about your first job. You may also want to include something about working as a rapper.

You don’t have to present ideas in chronological order, but you should group similar concepts together. If you want to include your financial situation from childhood in the same verse as your current situation, you can compare the two. You could say something like, “when I was little, times were tough, but now I know I was a diamond in the rough.”

Depending on the rap you’re writing, you can have a variety of themes. If you want to rap about something specific, you could use each verse to rephrase the point. But if you want to cover more information, you can include different parts of the story in each verse.

One of the best things about writing a rap is that you can be as creative as you want. You can keep things simple, or you can go big with the themes you write about. And if you need something to start, try to tell a story with your rap.

Create a Story

If you want to tell the story about how you went from making no money to earning more, you can share that story. You can also share the story of meeting the love of your life or finding your way out of a toxic situation. Everyone has some sort of story to tell, whether it’s about love or money or something else.

When turning this story into a rap think about your story as having different layers. Each verse will add another layer to that story in a coherent way!

  • When writing a rap about a story, you can start at the beginning for your first verse. Perhaps you focus your first verse on your childhood and how your parents made money.
  • For the second verse, you can talk about how you gained financial independence and made your own money.
  • In the third verse, you can talk about where you are now and where you want to go. But make sure to relate these things back to your chorus so that the rap flows well.

If you can’t think of a story to tell, you can make something up. Telling a story is a great way to express yourself through rap, and you can show your true emotions. Stories can also make it easier to write multiple verses since you can separate specific lyrics.

Get Personal

Whether you’re telling a story or rapping about something else, don’t be afraid to get personal. It can be hard to share certain details, but it can also be freeing. You can use your rap to share things that you wouldn’t share with just your words.

Even if you’re rapping about something that’s not very personal, you can include a unique touch. If you’re rapping about traveling to different countries, you could include your favorite place you’ve been to. You could list places that you want to visit but haven’t had the chance to.

People relate to experiences and being personal in your rap lyrics can help others connect with you. Some people do listen to rap for the beat and the melody, but many people like the content of the lyrics. If you’re new to writing rap lyrics, you don’t have to let everything out at once.

But as you practice writing rap lyrics, you can include more personal details. What’s more, if something is personal, it might help you determine where to put it within a verse or an entire rap. Then, you won’t have to worry about if the verse structure is correct because you will know it is.

Improvise Over the Beat

Once you have a few lyric ideas, you can put them into a verse. And one excellent way to do this is to improvise the lyrics over a beat pattern. You can record yourself as you rap so that you will know what you said and when.

  • Odds are you’ll make some sort of mistake, or you won’t like everything about the improvisation. However, the more you do it, the better you’ll get.
  • Rapping from your heart can be an easy way to find lyrics that work. It can get you out of the funk that comes with writer’s block, and it can get you rapping sooner in the process.
  • If you don’t know what beat you want to use with your rap, try a couple out. You can experiment with different beats in music software, or you can clap or snap yourself.

After you record yourself, listen back and see if you like the flow of the verse. Consider how the lyrics fit with the beat and what you want to change. If you do want to change anything, you can record yourself with the new changes. Keep doing that until you find the right structure for your verses.

Test Different Rhymes

As you work with different lyrics and beats, test out a few different rhymes and rhythms for your verses. You can use a thesaurus to find similar words that might sound different but mean the same thing. Then, you can match up words more easily so that you have a rhyme.

You can also use a thesaurus to find words with different syllables, which can come in handy. If all of the phrases in your rap are different lengths, it can be hard to match things up. By shortening or lengthening some of them, you can make everything fit.

Some rhymes might work easily, while others will require a bit of work. You can make similar words work as rhymes even if they don’t sound the same. For example, you may be able to rhyme the word “day” with “babe.”

Rhyming can be tricky, but you can think of it like a puzzle. You’ll have to figure out how to manipulate words and phrases to fit and match with each other. But you don’t always have to make things rhyme, and you may not always want to.

Know When Not to Rhyme

If you can’t get anything to rhyme in one or more verses, don’t worry. You don’t have to make words rhyme to have a good rap. Sometimes, rhyming too much can make you sound generic, so you can use a lack of rhymes to stand out.

You can use other elements of your verses to develop a flow within the individual verse and the whole song. Consider the number of syllables in each phrase and where you take a breath or another type of pause. Think about the length of each verse and how similar or different they are.

You can also put emphasis on specific syllables within the phrases. Maybe you can emphasize the last syllable of each line in your verse. Or perhaps you want to emphasize the most important word of each line.

If you can make the verse cohesive in other ways, it won’t matter if you can’t get it to rhyme. While rhyming is a great way to help structure your verses, you don’t always need to use it. Sometimes, relying on other factors can help make your rap unique.

Figure Out Your Speed

As you structure your verses, don’t forget about how fast or slow you’ll need to rap. Unless you have rapped quickly before, you may not want to cram a lot of words into a short period. Stick to what you’re comfortable with and consider how fast you want to rap as well as when you can breathe.

If you have to rap quickly for one verse to match the length of the others, you might need to cut something. On the other hand, if one verse is significantly shorter, you may need to add something.

While you can adjust the speed of different verses, they should sound like they’re for the same song. Especially if you aren’t using rhymes, you should keep the verse length as consistent as possible. Then, you can help the overall flow and structure of the song.

Don’t Forget the Melody

As you write out your rap lyrics, remember there’s a melody. You may not be singing different notes, but your rap will probably have a sort of cadence that you’ll follow. The melodic content and emphasis are essential for structuring your verses because it helps you when performing.

If every verse is significantly different, it will be harder to memorize. But if you only have to remember one rhythm or melodic flow for all of the verses, it will be easier. You can also use your melody to figure out when to breathe.

Ideally, you will be able to breathe where you would if you were speaking. You don’t want to breathe in the middle of a word, for example. So as you write your lyrics, consider rapping them to make sure they fit and that they’re easy enough to perform.

Put It Together

Finally, you can put the verses with the chorus and a bridge if you have one. You can put everything to a beat or backtrack, and you can record your rap. Then, you can see how it feels and sounds as both the rapper and the listener.

If you notice anything that doesn’t flow well with the rest of the rap, you can change it. Make a note to yourself as you listen to the recording. You can also ask for another rapper or producer to listen to your rap.

They can give you feedback on the lyrics and structure of your verses. And if you do need to change something, hopefully, they can help you. Once you make any changes, you can record the new version and follow the same listening process.

After you have a version that you like, you can finalize it in a program like GarageBand or FL Studio. You can edit any minor issues so that you don’t have to record the track all over again. Finally, you can export the audio file and release it online or add it to a CD that you want to sell.

Conclusion

Writing rap lyrics can be difficult, especially if this is your first rap. You have to write your thoughts, and you have to make them fit in a specific period that matches your backtrack. However, you also need to keep the lyrics consistent with the overall theme of the song. But if you know how to structure your rap verses, you can create music that you want to share with the world.

We also have a full guide on ‘finding your flow‘ as a rapper. If you liked this article you will probably like that one too 🙂

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