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8 Oct 2017

How to write rap lyrics - including chorus, verse and topics

8 Oct 2017
musicians/vocalists How to write rap lyrics - including chorus, verse and topics


For me, there are two ways to write rap lyrics

  1. Write without the music
  2. Write to the beat

If you write without music your main goal most of the time is to get that feeling you have on paper. A beat sometimes distracts you from the topic you are writing about.
Eventually, you will have to alter the verse to the beat, and this is something that is extremely hard to do. You have take parts away or rearrange them, and that is something that can ruin your idea.

But keep your head up because your message is already there now just flow with it. Just scan your lyrics for a sentence that fits the beat and then try to freestyle with that. At least that's what works for me, in music, there are no rules.

How do you write a chorus?

A chorus most of the time relates to the verses, the main topic. It could be a solution to what you write about in the verses, but it also can be a conclusion or a metaphor to your verses. If you think that I am going to teach you how to write a chorus perfectly, then stop reading because there is no guide to writing one. There is, however, a trick to writing a chorus and that is “go back to the beginning”. You wrote your verses on a topic, and that is what the chorus is going to be about. Of course, some choruses have no relation to the verse but have a different function, but that is totally up to your creativity.

Below a lay-out from a rapsong, this is a standard you can use. After getting your own style, play with this and be creative.

How do you write a verse?

The first question you have to ask yourself before putting pen to paper is “what message do I want to bring across?”

If you want to write lyrics, you are bound to have no shame. The paper is the area where your story will come to life. You cannot be afraid to write down something that hurts you. People will only give you a chance if you are real. Rap often comes across as anger that boils whit in the rapper, and that is why every rap fan will analyse the lyrics. If you shout, you want to be heard, so your story better be good.

I created a mind palace for writing lyrics. A room in my mind where all of my emotions and important events from my life are stacked and categorised. If I, for example, would write a song about addiction I would search in my mind palace for all the moments in my life that have any connection to me and my addiction in the present past and future.

A few topics that I like to write about.

  • Addiction
  • Isolation
  • Psychosis
  • Humankind
  • Love
  • Family

As you can see most of my motivation to start writing comes from pain. For me writing down my pain makes it easier to wrap my head around it. I don’t think about what other people learn from my lyrics because I am trying to learn and understand what I am going through myself.

Which topics are relevant?

Rap is a way of expressing your character. You probably have a serious drive to let your opinion be heard.


12 Extra tips on how to write rap lyrics

  • Know your voice.
  • You got to work with what you got. A low voice most of the time has a dramatic effect on it or a gangster effect.
  • Rappers with a low voice often rap slower. Their heavy voice has a more dramatic effect to one word, also low voices turn into mumbling when they rap fast.
  • People like to relate to music. This means that they will try to find something in your lyrics that they recognise and can relate to. For example, everybody had their heart broken at one point. If you talk about the last time you laid eyes on your ex, she will be kissing someone else the person that listens to your music will relate to your pain. That is the core of those two sentences.
  • The best lyrics are produced on the road. Your head is empty, and you are gazing out the window with your earplugs in and you are flowing to whatever is next on the playlist and BAM there it is, a topic you care for or that last sentence to your verse. This is the moment that you will hate yourself if you don’t have a pen and a piece of paper to write it down. I always got a little noteblok with me so that I can write down my idea’s or lyrics that I think of. The next time I start writing I make sure first to check out my road ideas.
  • Listen to pop songs and other rapers
  • Flow (listened to a track you like)
  • Don’t crunch syllables (articulate)
  • Think like a professional don’t slack cause then your track will end up on the shelf
  • Be proud of what you write if you are not proud it's not worth it
  • What you write about will affect the people, be aware of that


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