It’s no secret that the modern music industry has countless tools at their disposal. Whether its digital instruments or vocal adjustments, musicians are able to improve and alter their songs in a few minutes.
But how do famous rappers change the sound of their voice to sound overlapped, digital, robotic, or otherwise different?
Rappers change their voice by using autotune, vocal chops, vocoders, talk boxes, and other machines. Many of them also have a specific voice that they rap with to make themselves stand out among the crowd.
Developing a unique voice is a crucial part of making a name for yourself in the industry.
Throughout this article, you’ll learn the following information about how rappers change their voice:
- Different tools and apps used to alter the sound of vocals
- Various reasons that they’d choose to not use their natural voice
- Steps to take to find your own unique rapping voice
Different Ways Rappers Change Their Voices
There are all sorts of apps and online tools that rappers can use to alter their voices. All you need is a laptop and a basic knowledge of music to start changing the sounds right away.
If you’ve ever heard an unnatural voice from one of your favorite artists, then it was undoubtedly altered on a computer.
Here are five ways that rappers change their voice:
- Autotune is the most popular and widely-used method of voice alteration. It’s gone in and out of style for decades, so there’s no sign of it being gone for good anytime soon. One of the main reasons that so many musicians use autotune is that it’s simple to use, and it sounds good with almost any beat.
- Next, talk boxes are another well-known way of changing a voice. They’re not exclusive to rap; In fact, they’ve been used in some of the world’s most popular songs across many industries. As mentioned by NRG Recording, talk boxes were used in the making of ‘Iron Man’ by Black Sabbath.
- Vocoders are also used, though they’re not as sought-after as the other methods. They were originally developed to send secret messages since the robotic sound is difficult to understand at times. They’re often used for a portion of a song rather than rapping the entire track with the tool.
- Vocal chops are another tool that’s used to change the voice of various musicians. It focuses on chopping or stuttering the words and mixing them with different sounds. It’s very robotic, while also sounding natural at the same time. Using vocal chops will grant you the unique sound that you’re looking for.
- Finally, rappers change their voices by intentionally changing the pitch. This method doesn’t involve any instruments. Instead, it solely relies on the natural talent of the artist to be able to change their pitch as they rap. It’s a bit challenging for many musicians, which is why they often opt for a machine-powered application.
As you can see, rappers have quite a few voice-altering tools at their disposal these days. Whether they prefer the sound of the alteration or they don’t like the sound of their voice, there’s no denying that these voice changers are here to stay.
If you want to know more about why rappers change their voices, proceed to the next section.
Why Do Rappers Alter Vocals?
Listening to different musicians change their voice has been a thing for decades. Whether we’re talking about the rock bands from the UK singing like they’re American or musicians from California trying to sound southern, there has been and always will be accent changes in the music industry.
There are many different reasons that rappers and other musicians change their voices with accents, tools, and pitch variations. Let’s analyze a list of them below.
- As mentioned in an interview with Vice, rappers often change their accent to appeal to a specific audience. It’s no secret that the US has dozens of accents that are regionally unique. If a musician from California wants to appeal to an audience from Atlanta, they’ll change their method of making raps.
- One reason that rappers use autotune is that it fits the beat of the song. If the background sounds electronic, then using autotune, vocoders, or other methods can make it sound even better. The rhythm matches the voice, making the song more appealing to the audience.
- Another use for autotune is to adjust the pitch of the rapper’s voice. It’s not always designed to be robotic or overwhelming. Autotune can be used very subtly to the point that it’s hardly noticeable. Many musicians only use autotune when they’re performing in front of a live audience for vocal assistance.
- Changing one’s voice can also be a sign of creating an alternate persona. You might’ve noticed that some popular rappers and musicians in other genres sound entirely different when they’re performing than when they’re being interviewed. This persona allows them to feel more confident on stage while still maintaining their personal life.
- Finally, some rappers just like the sound of a changed voice. It could be as simple as the fact that it often makes the music more entertaining. With all of the electronic instruments used in music these days, it’s understandable that a human voice might sound a bit out of place.
A musician’s goal of changing their voice is often done for one of the aforementioned reasons. It’s almost never about deceiving their fans to make them think that they sound differently, contrary to what many people who dislike the genre believe.
Instead, rappers are simply trying to appeal to their audience.
How Can You Find Your Own Rap Voice?
Sweetwater covers the basics of using autotune and other mechanical instruments. However, this section is about deciding how you want to sound and what you’ll accomplish with such a decision.
Before choosing a random tool, accent, pitch, or voice inflection, consider some of these questions.
What Audience Are You Trying to Appeal To?
If your audience is regional, then consider making your voice sound like you’re from where they’re at. Since almost everyone has access to the internet, they’ll know that you’re not pretending to be from the place at all. The purpose of changing to a different accent is to offer comfort and familiarity.
What Style of Music Are You Rapping To?
Rap can be performed over all sorts of songs. The recent combination of country and rap has proven to be quite popular. Another popular mixture of genres includes rap and rock.
When you’re choosing the voice-changing tools, make sure you consider the genres you’re rapping with.
What Tools Do You Have at Your Disposal?
The best tools to alter your voice are the ones you already have. There are plenty of free tools, including Garage Band, if you have an Apple device. Try to figure out the sound you’re aiming for by using whatever you’re able to get your hands on.
Don’t assume that you need the high-end apps or machines to get the best sound.
Voice manipulation in the music industry is nothing new. It’s been used for decades and will continue to be an integral part of many genres. Rappers often change their voice using these tools, but there are many other ways to make one’s voice sound different.
Here’s a quick recap of the post:
- Autotune is the most popular voice changing method.
- Rappers change their voice for fan appeal and persona.
- You can choose your own vocal sounds by using different tools to fit the beat.