In this article, we will talk about the most important moment in a rapper’s career-his initiation to the game.
Quiz: Do you have what it takes to become a great rapper:
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Your answers would suggest that you have a strong desire to pursue a career in rapping. You showed clear indication that you’re chasing the journey and not the destination. You know how to deal with people and hold your own. Life can know you down, but you seem to always get back up.
You are an interesting person, who has a plethora of experiences and stories to share. You have the capacity to build on the foundation that’s already here. Don’t stop, learn more and do more. Rap is something you love, chase it.
It seems that you are a fan of rap and would want to stay one. Being on the sidelines is worlds different than what it’s like to be in the field, taking and giving hits. It’s okay, you don’t have to be a rapper because it’s the popular thing nowadays. You do you man, do what you find interesting and disregard the opinions people give you on what can work and what can’t. Only you know what makes you feel alive. Find it and stick to it.
Question 1 of 8
What is the most important to you?
Question 2 of 8
Does the process of making what you want say rhyme:
Question 3 of 8
Would you say you have thick skin?
Question 4 of 8
How high would you rate your mental toughness?
Question 5 of 8
Would you say that you have witnessed uncommon events up to this point?
Question 6 of 8
Do you feel an inner level of confidence when you listen to rap music?
Question 7 of 8
When was the last time you thought of something original?
Question 8 of 8
How often do you visualize yourself being the star in a rap music video?
Before we begin..
How old is too old to start a rap career?
I just want to start this article by saying that age is the last thing that should make you worries about becoming a rapper. In fact, being older than most rappers can act as a benefit, since your level of maturity, critical thinking and behavior would differentiate you from the crowd.
Just remember one thing. Hip-hop has been around since the late 70s and the people who liked it then, like it now. They were 18 then, they are older now. Part of the reason why you see most of them switching their music preference is because there is no rapper they can relate to. The content they are being shown is directed towards people younger than them.
Don’t give in to your self-doubt. If you love it, you just do it.
1. Ways to Self Destruct Your Rap Career
You can see a lot of aspiring rappers, with good flow, good content and good voice, but lacking the ability to play the game.
Most of them have the understanding that if they’re good at what they’re doing, they will succeed. Well, unfortunately that’s not the case. Being good is not enough. You have to be able to strategize your moves within the music business.
Here are the biggest blunders that aspiring rappers should try avoiding.
-Spitting out Songs with no Direction
This is very common. A rapper gets an instrumental, write the lyrics, records it and posts it straight up on YouTube. After 2 days, he repeats the same process.
The motive behind that strategy is that he will saturate the market to such a degree, that eventually people will notice him. By doing so many songs, he will eventually make that banger and it will get him the attention required.
Let me tell you why such an approach is wrong for me. In my opinion, your public image should be very carefully established. You should carve up your character with the utmost attention, get a reputation for a specific type of content, develop a USP(Unique Selling Point) and so on. By spitting out all of those songs, you become way too general for your viewers. There is no fantasy. That’s first.
Also, by having 20 songs on YouTube and all of them below 100 views, this is not a good look. You’re giving the wrong first impression to people, ingraining a rather damaging perception of yourself. Once that happens, people will start to think less of you.
It’s always better to have 1 song with 1000 views, which you effectively promote, rather than having 20 with 30 views each.
Next time people hear your name, they might check out your content and if they see that all you have is one song with high view count, they’ll see that there is a certain desirability about you. This immediately generates more interest for them and they get curious as to what you have to say next.
It must be good, since so many people heard it.
-Low quality songs
You see that the flow is good and the beat is on point, but the guy didn’t put enough effort in editing his vocals, adding some ad-lips, nothing. It sounds mechanical. The difference between recording your song at home and recording it in a studio can be as little as $30.
This however is the difference between people coming back to listen to your song again and checking it out only once, seeing that it’s amateur made and just leave. Always make sure that your public image is as professional as it can get. Even if you don’t have the cash for it right now.
Take your time, get the paper and do it the proper way. It’s better to be patient and blow up like you should, rather than being impatient and just bubble in the background.
2.What do I need to know before I go public
You have to find your style. You have to be able to generate an association with your name. For example, when you say DMX, you think of the crazy impulsive guy.
When you say Jay-Z, you think of the slick hustler. When you say Snoop Dogg, you think of the cool chilled guy, who likes weed. You have to put yourself in a category depending on your character.
If there is no such category, make one-that’s even better.
This is vital, because once you know your style, while defining it, more people with similar style will gravitate towards you. You will be representing. So you really need to think about that, before you post anything on the web and begin your rap career.
You have to think of factors which would separate you from the crowd. Maybe it’s the controversy you will get yourself involved in, maybe it would be your amusing comments, maybe it would be your intelligence, or appearance.
It has to be something, which is going to make you different from other rappers and which would grab the attention of the listener. Simply joining the crowd and rapping about what they rap about will not work.
The market is saturated by rappers who glorify the superficial and people are looking for something other than that. Something fresh. Package it nicely and give it to them.
You have to think about that too. Before you start your public relations, you have to know from where you’re going to get your money. Not knowing that, will simply make you ignorant to the opportunities you could have and missing opportunities is the shortest way to failure.
Think several steps ahead. So what if you get that viral song? What would you do? Would you sell shoes? Would you sell clothes? How are you going to use your popularity and how will you double it.
To be a successful rapper/entertainer, you have to be a businessman too.
That’s for those of you who want to make money rapping. You have to strategize if you want to make it. At one point, you would have to step away from the rhyme schemes for a while and get some knowledge on the game.
Learn the game and learn how to play it. That’s the only way you could win.
How to Find Money For My First Rap Song?
I know that most of you are on the verge of venturing out on your own rap career and this part is here to guide you and let you know what to expect ahead. A lot of people love rapping and that’s it. Nobody has ever stopped to ponder on questions like:
Where will I get money for beats, recording and videos?
How long will it take me, until I’m able to maintain my standard of living solely on the income from rap?
If I rap, how will I get paid?
Those are scary questions for 90% of the “rappers” nowadays. They like the art and just have it in their heads that if they get good enough, they’ll release that hit song one day and money will start flowing in. Are you one of them?
Do you have some spare change, I’m coming up!
It’s an extreme phrase, but it’s more or less the general theme in the mindset of the up and coming rapper.
We’re on a stage where we know we’re good. We can write incredibly couplets and deliver them perfectly. People hear us and salute us. Everybody is encouraging us to keep on persevering.
We’re now hungry for fame and everything that comes with it. We want to show our skills to as many people as possible. This is where reality strikes. The first round of separating the people with real desire and the people who rap because it’s fashionable.
You want to release your first official music video. You know what you want to say, you know it will be great and people would love it! However:
Finding The Beat
You realize that you need to buy your own beat
You can either go online and buy a premium one for around $60, but it will be generic. 500 other people will have the same one and your song won’t be unique. You can purchase it exclusively, but you have to pull out $300 from your wallet for this.
The best option is to find a skilled producer and ask him to create a tailor-made instrumental for you.
With this option, you have the opportunity to specify desired sounds, feelings, tempo and any other preference you might have. The low-end of this pleasure is around 300$, but the prices increase with the reputation of the producer.
Finding the Studio
You realize that you need to find a professional studio and a mixing and mastering service
Those prices can vary depending on your location, but you shouldn’t put them on the side. Be wary of these expenses as well, as they all add up to the final cost of your song.
Shooting a video
Another expense, perhaps the biggest one.
Of course, you can shoot a video with your own camera and make it for free, but if you want to initiate yourself in the music industry with a professional looking visual, be ready to spend more than $1000 on it.
The happy story is not over yet. I don’t want to ruin your visualizations and hinder your motivation to enter the rap world, but there is a possibility that people won’t like your song.
You might’ve spent all that money on a product and when the time comes for it to launch, people just ignore it and it ends up staying there motionless-dead.
Remember: Music is an extremely high risk investment. That’s why you need to make sure you’re doing it the right way.
How can I get the Money?
I didn’t manage to scare you off? Well done! So now you want to know where to get the money for the song creation process. There are several possibilities:
Get a Side Hustle
This means that you would have to enter the real world for a little bit. Ask your network of friends and family about job opportunities. Finding a 9-5 is the most straight-forward way to get your capital fast.
It will be boring, people will ask you to do dumb shit, but you’ll do it since you know where would this money go.
Be careful not to get entangled in a job which requires too much of you. Don’t sign anything long term, or a vocation which would take all of your day.
You need to schedule your time in a way, which allows you to practice your craft as well. Otherwise, your skills might get rusty and all that working in hell would be for nothing if people don’t like your song.
We’re the internet generation after all. There are many opportunities for generating additional income online.
This is an advertising platform from Google. It allows you to display ads on your product and when people see/click on it, you get paid. The more people click, the more you get paid.
A great way of doing this is to upload interesting videos on Youtube. It can be funny, it can be motivational. The method is very time efficient and wouldn’t cost you anything. If your videos catch on and if you have signed up on Adsense, you’ll get money from that.
Fiverr is a place, where you provide a service for 5$. It can be anything-from writing verses for people, to writing comments on blogs. You might want to check it out. Everybody can sign up and start earning right now.
There are many more ways to generate money online, like freelancing, temporary jobs etc. Google it and find out for yourself.
Another cool thing that you can do is partner up with a few of your friends and make your own home recording studio.
You wouldn’t need that much money to start it. You can use your own computer, a microphone, find a place where you can improvise a recording booth and start spreading the word.
Not only would this generate a bit of income for you, it would also allow you to stay close to the craft, practice your skills and gain even more knowledge in the field. Over time, the recording studio might turn out to be your biggest asset.
Ask Family Members for Money
Advantages: Interest Free Grant, Get it all at once, No Risk
Disadvantages: Not easy to Get, Bad for your Pride
First, you estimate the amount you need for your campaign. Second, you make up an action plan, which you can show your mom/dad. You present to them what you want to do, how you’re going to do it, what is the probability it’s going to work and so on.
Think of it as the business plan you present to a bank, when you are applying for a loan. The bummer is that it’s incredibly difficult to get. Imagine saying: Mom, I’m not going to college, so you might as well give me that money because I’m going to be a rapper.
Before you even consider that option, evaluate the chances and your parents willingness to invest in your endeavor. Tell you the truth, if they really love you and if you show them that you really want it, you will get it.
Advantages: Fast and Easy Money, Get More Content Material, Builds Reputation
Disadvantages: Very High Risk, Mentally Exhausting
If you don’t have any other options, that’s the last course of action you could take-go illegal. If you have connections, you can start dealing. I would advise you to stick to weed though. If you start selling something else, you go too deep. You would have to protect yourself not only from the cops, but from the fellow dealers, who do that for life and not for their future rap career.
The money is easy and fast. If you make up a plan, you could easily get a person’s monthly salary in a week or less. It is however very risky. If you get caught, you go to jail and it’s all over. The mental aspect of it shouldn’t be taken for granted too. All the worrying and paranoia will eventually fuck you up, so the best way to enter this is to get in and get out as fast as you can.
Come up Through Connections
Advantages: Less Capital Needed, Faster Come up, Bigger Initial Reach
Disadvantages: Dependency, No Character Development, No Guarantees of Success
If you know people, who are currently on a higher level in the industry, you could use their position to further your own interests. You don’t need that much money. You do need to be able to seduce them into giving you a chance to showcase your talents.
If you get that chance, your connection will be the one presenting you to the world, making his audience yours for the moment, giving you access to a free pool of fans. You wont develop any life story of coming up though, which is something very valuable for your lyrical content. You will depend on him too.
This is something which I can’t do. If I don’t like someone, it’s very hard for me to pretend. You also don’t have a guarantee that he wont just quit on you, throwing all your efforts in the rubbish bin.
How to Avoid Wasting Money on a Song
At the start of our rap career, nobody is too sure what works and what doesn’t. The pressure of releasing your first track is something not to be trifled with. In your head, your flow is the bomb, but is it really? Let me show you a way, with which you could test the quality of your rapping, without dealing any damage on your overall rap career.
Test Tracks for Test Groups
Before you put all that money and time into creating new instrumentals, writing rhyme schemes, thinking of lyrics, promotion and what not, why don’t you first figure out is it worth it? The concept is the following:
You first make a test song and then give it to your test market. If they like it, you replicate the techniques used in the test song and you use it for the official version. Let me elaborate.
The test song is not expensive. You have to buy just an average instrumental, write your lyrics with that special technique you want to test and then you go to the studio and record it. No need for videos or marketing.
That’s your test song. It’s overall production cost should not exceed $100 dollars. After you get it mastered, you send it to a select group of people. They have to be completely objective and honest about the quality.
If you receive positive feedback from them, that’s the green light. Your new technique works. The new way you write your lyrics IS better. That’s the way you should write from now on.
Figure Out What Works
I’m afraid that only one test song is not enough though. You have to know what works and what doesn’t. Any questions or doubts you have in your mind have to be GONE, before you go public.
If you create a video and a marketing plan for a song, which won’t be met with positive feedback, you have not only wasted money, but you’ve wasted the chance to create a good first impression.
After you know all those things, you can be sure that once you invest in releasing an actual song, you’ll know what sort of reaction to expect.
If we were to talk in business terms, incorporating test songs in your rise to success, diminishes your chance of failure and increases the probability of launching a successful rap career. It gives you the needed knowledge to provide a great quality product. Doing test songs now, will give you longevity in the future.
All businesses do something similar. They create a test segment of the market. You have a new product and you give it to a segment, waiting for feedback. If you get the positive feedback, you get to the next stage of production and marketing. Corporations-they are not so powerful by chance.
How to Release Your First Rap Song
Have you ever thought about that? If you could choose, how would you want to blow up?
There are so many examples out there. Some rappers enter the rap scene overnight, by getting that hit single. People immediately flock to hear their product and the whole dynamic is dominated by the notion of anticipating their next song and if it fails to meet expectations, the song along with the rapper, meet the trash can.
The other way is to slowly build a community of fans. The gradual success. You start off slowly and with every song, your audience grows to the point, where you have thousands of people listening and supporting you.
Both ways have their own advantages and disadvantages. What would you choose?
1. The Overnight Success
Creating a hit single is tricky and hard to do. So many variables are involved in the creation process, that is hard to pin point whether a song would succeed or not.
However, there are a few guidelines you can follow to get a legitimate attempt at creating something which can have a big impact on your local rap scene.
First thing you need to do is research and find the songs that became hits in the past. The records that were well received. Study those records and try to figure out why did they become popular.
I have to tell you something, which 80% of the rappers nowadays couldn’t even begin to contemplate. You can’t create a hit single, if your song is similar to something else. You cannot become a full-fledged star, if you’re a look-alike.
Yes, we all have our influences, but it’s one thing to use someone’s style for foundation and then build on it, it’s another thing to emulate someone’s style to a point, where people SEE the similarities.
You have to bring something new to the table and that’s the only way you can get somewhere. Understand that people listening to rap music have seen/heard many many artists.
You can capture their attention, not by trying to become the next Nas, but by trying to become the first YOU.
What Makes The Difference
The next thing you have to understand about hit singles is the factors outside the actual music. If having a good song is like having a good car, the promotion and distribution behind it are the factors, which determine whether or not, the car will go somewhere.
Yes of course, if your song is really great, people are likely to share it and it will eventually grow from there. However, this is a concept driven by hope and hope only. You have to take matters in your own hands, as much as you can.
In order to create a hit single, you need to ensure that you have the necessary resources for distribution and heavy promotion.
If you have something worth talking about, spread the word, let people know. That’s half of the game and even though I’m speaking on this subject, I’m still perfecting the promotion aspect of my music and business as a whole.
Letting people know that your product exists is all which is required from you. It’s in their hands now. They’ll choose whether to listen to it or not, you did what you had to do.
The same thing goes for this site. If I let people know that it exists, I’ve done my job. It’s your decision, whether you’ll read the articles in it or not.
What to expect?
Well, you have to understand that having a hit single is not that special as people make it out to be. In my opinion, it’s a double-edged sword. Yes, people loved your first song. They still listen to it, but now what? Will you be able to top that? Will you be able to create a product, which is even better than your first? What if you fail?
That’s the negative part of having a hit single-you have no loyal fans. You don’t have a community behind your music. Just because you blew up overnight, people wouldn’t be able to see any growth in you.
In the beginning, people would see you as a brand, with a great first product. You can be sure that they’ll be waiting for that next song and you better make it right, because they’ll leave in an instant. They will forget you faster than they started loving you.
That’s music. Too many artists, too many songs, listeners have so much choice, that they won’t even think about spending 5 minutes on you, if they don’t think your product is worth it.
How to make your own music videos
Are you an independent artist looking to shoot your own music video? Just recently I began creating my own music videos. At first I thought I needed a videographer, but I personally didn’t know any. I decided to take matters into my own hands and INVEST in the proper equipment to start creating my own music videos.
• If you are going to start creating your own music videos, you are going to need money to invest in the right equipment. Figure out what your budget is. How much are you willing to spend on a camera? Are you going to use a free editing program, or are you willing to spend money on a professional program? These are the main factors to consider before you take the initiative to make music videos. EVERYONE has bills to pay, so don’t use the excuse that you have no money. Get your priorities straight and learn how to save your money. If you really care about building your music career you should want to spend your hard-earned money on investments for your business.
• First off, you are going to need a camera that is good for shooting videos. I did some research and selected a camera that was cost efficient and met my budget. For my music video “Windows Down” I used a suction cup mount for my GoPro (which is a very good choice for $300) to put on the car to help me get nice shots of the bridge and the ocean. If you have the money for a more expensive camera, though by all means go for it. The beauty of owning a camera is that every music video is free after this. You won’t have to go through the trouble of paying a videographer up to $500 for each music video you shoot.
• Choosing an editing program is another main factor to consider when creating music videos. I am all about quality, and I want my final product to come out as professional as it can be. That is why I chose to buy Final Cut Pro. Now since I am only a beginner in editing I could have just used the free program Imovie, but now that I have Final Cut Pro I am only going to get better at editing and pick up new skills I wouldn’t be able to learn on Imovie. (Remember the old saying: Practice makes perfection?) I watched a couple tutorials on Youtube and learned how to use some tools that are commonly used. Everything else is pretty much straight forward. It may seem a bit pricy, but like I said, if you know how to budget yourself it is well worth the investment.
• Having an idea for your video will make it that much better. Get creative. Remember you are an artist. Technically you are creating art! You will see that it will be a lot more beneficial to you because you will be able to shoot a lot more footage. Having more footage gives you something to work with and will help you make a better video. If you have an idea or story line, your video will be more organic, and you will be able to engage your audience, which is the ultimate goal!
• Find someone you know whether it’s a friend, family member, or coworker that would be interested in shooting your music video. This saves you the cost and trouble of hiring someone you don’t know to film your video.
• Watch your favorite artists music videos to help you get ideas. This especially helps you in the editing process because you will be able to determine what kind of effects you want for your video.
Sky is the limit, and it’s true when they say you can do anything you set your mind to. Good luck! I hope you enjoyed reading!
3 Questions the Most Successful Rappers Use to Supercharge Their Career
Rapping is complex. I believe that we can all agree on that. There is so much going on in it, starting from the content of your songs to the overall image of your rap persona. Wouldn’t it be great if you could sum up everything, by asking yourself three questions?
Questions, which if you take the time to answer, will give you the guidelines that will take you to the top? I thought about it and these are the three essential questions that I think should be answered by every person who is serious about rapping.
1. What is seductive about your character?
You have to know the quality, which drives people towards you, so you can use this quality in your songs and your whole appearance. Have you ever wondered why Pop Artists are famous? It’s because they know what is seductive about their character and what is repulsive. They eliminate their repulsive habits and enhance the seductive ones.
After years of hard work, they are left with a personality, which people naturally gravitate around, simply because they wanna have it, but they can’t and the next best thing is to gravitate around you, unconsciously hoping that they get a piece of you in their character.
This is what you need to strive for
Let’s use two rappers as an example for this concept-Snoop Dogg and DMX. Both managed to create a whole movement with their songs. People following them everywhere they go, emulating their styles and so on. DMX and Snoop Dogg are pop icons. Even though, they have totally different characters, they both know the same secret knowledge-they analyzed the response of the public to their moves, located the quality which is most liked and just based their whole image around that.
That quality is theirs though. Don’t make the mistake to try to be someone else, just because it’s popular. I can’t act all cool like Snoop Dogg, simply because I don’t smoke so much weed and I don’t come from his background. I can do my own thing though. You should all figure out “YOUR THING” and start building on that.
Back to the example, Snoop has that chilled, all relaxed and cool atmosphere around him. You think that’s unconscious? Snoop started selling slippers! His whole demeanor is about that quality and even though he changes up his content sometime, this is only so he can keep surprising his viewers, never making them bored.
Dmx knows that his aggression sells. You can just feel the rage and anger in his voice and you gravitate towards that, because of its magnitude. It is really coming out of him, unrefined, raw, real. Emotions which we try to repress in society nowadays. Once we hear that, it allows us to unconsciously open up and let go.
For those 3 minutes that the song is playing, you are free. You don’t care about the rules society gave you. You let go. This is the effect which you have to try to attain in your songs. This is the effect which will draw the masses towards you. Helping them to let go. Think it through, master this and be amazed by the results!
2. What is your Main Aim?
You have to define success. You have to define your success. What do you want to get out of it? Think deep. Don’t answer with the first thing that comes to mind. Really dig deep into the inner desires that are orbiting in your soul and answer the questions backed up by logic, reason and feeling.
Is it money? Is it fame? Is it social upheaval? What is your target? If you don’t know where are you going, you’re most likely lost. Never just take what life gives you man. You have to figure out what do you want from life, what do you want from your rap career and then strive to achieve this. A driven person is an unstoppable person!
3. How will you get there?
Make a plan. You know what you want. Now go and get it. You get it by creating a plan. Ask yourself, what are the steps you have to take, in order for you to reach your desired goal. If you want your Facebook page to have 100 likes, what is your plan to get there?
Be like Nepoleon
The way he planned was amazing. He locks himself in a room, filled with all kinds of intelligence reports, tactics, strategies etc and makes up a plan, which takes into account every single obstacle that he might face. He makes a best scenario. After that, he revises the best scenario by thinking of what could go wrong at each step, going all the way down to the worst case scenario.
This makes the plan unstoppable, because if one thing doesn’t go right, he knew it in advanced and has prepared for it, so his plan didn’t really fail, it just goes in another direction. It’s not on the basis of:
I do “A”, then I’ll do “B” and then “C”. It’s in the basis of: If I do “a”, “b” and “c” might happen. Do you understand? Learn how to plan, define success and keep grinding man! Ain’t nothing out there that can stop that combination.
6 Traits of Rappers Who Become Stars
Rap is more popular than ever at the moment. This has led to the flood of all types of dudes, who think they want to rap, but don’t really know why. Most of them want to do it simply because it’s the “hot thing at the moment”. There are however those of us, who really enjoy the art of rapping and have devoted and sacrificed a lot for it.
Those of us who have hopes of achieving success on a higher level are a different breed than the other people who are around. We are so hard to find though, that people can’t really differentiate the real from the fake. This part will present to you the 6 signs by which you could recognize when some up and coming rapper will really make it.
1. Never Giving up
We will never give up. We might sound awkward and our rhymes might be scruffy at first, but we never give up. We work hard all day and night, until we improve. It doesn’t matter to us whether you tell us that we won’t make it. We know it in our hearts that we will make it, if we deserve it.
It doesn’t matter to us if we go to a freestyle competition and we flop. We go off stage, analyze the flow, analyze our mistakes, fix them and go on that stage one more time. Even if our first song fails. We never lose hope and we keep hustling and pushing until it all breaks loose.
2. Always Willing to Improve
A real rapper knows that he can always get better. There is no such thing as being at the top of your game. There is always something which you can amend and polish up. There is always that rhyme scheme which you can improve. Always that change of content or point of delivery that we can fix up. Real rappers never stay stagnant with their skills. Never.
Now since there are a lot of “wanna be rappers”, you have to know that only the intelligent ones are going to make it. And I’m not talking intelligence as in who can do calculus faster. I’m talking about who has the ability to handle situations better. Who has the ability to soak game faster. The real rappers are smart, we know how to target our audience and what is the right thing to say in our songs. We think about that.
Don’t assume that rapping is just rhyming simple words. There are so many levels to this art. Also, being intelligent, you can present an argument in a better way, giving the advantages, the disadvantages, develop the ability to get an emotional response from your listeners and so on. Intelligence is very important.
Real rappers know how the game works. They know how to generate interest and what is required from them if they want to succeed. We don’t do anything by magic. Everything is based on research and worked facts. We study the game, study the rappers before us, analyze the way they made it and develop our strategy guided by lessons learnt by peeping game.
Wanna be rappers don’t even care what was before them. They don’t even know the history of rap. They don’t know who started it, how it got to this level or where it is going. They don’t care. All they care is the money and they think that they can just spit a mediocre verse, put it on YouTube and some record label executive is going to watch it and sign them like they are Justin Bieber. It ain’t happening. We plan and strategize in advance. We make our own luck.
Real rappers are focused and diligent at what they’re doing. You might expect us to go out and party all the time, but the truth is that we are so soaked in our craft and we are so concentrated on making it, that all the other bullshit, we skip it since it doesn’t make sense to us.
Of course, we can have fun, matter fact we are the life of the party. We just know how to regulate it all and how to balance the whole equation. For us, there is nothing more important than coming up. All the girls others are chasing right now, we don’t care, because we know that once we get to that level we want to be at, chicks will be the ones doing the chasing.
6. Driven by something other than money
This is maybe the most important sign you have to look for. If a rapper comes at you and all he talks about is what kind of car he will buy once his product starts selling, you know that he won’t make it. Even if he makes it for a while, he will be one of those flash rappers. Now you see him, Now you don’t.
Real rappers are driven by an ideal. By something more than money. They might want to help their people, they might want to be the pillar of their society. Maybe they want to represent a certain group, maybe they want to be the spokesman for others. Real rappers are the ones who do this rap thing for real. Rap for us is like a wheel. We use that wheel to go from point A to point B.
Never forget that. Learn how to tell who’s real and who is a punk. You will eventually need it.
4 Reasons Why Most Rappers Fail
Well, this part will be all about failure and what you should do, to make sure you don’t go anywhere near it. The music industry is tricky. The success rate is extremely slim and knowledge on why people fail is vital for those of you wanting success.
1. Your Rap Career is a Marathon, not a Sprint-Never Quit
Many new coming rappers think that all they need to do is drop a song and just watch the number of views increase by the minute. As most of you know, this is hardly ever the case.
You drop a song, you get a few people, you start working on another one, you have to advertise, you start networking and so on. Being a successful rapper doesn’t happen over night.
Some people, expecting that kind of beginning to their “career”, lose hope from the moment they don’t get the first reaction they expected. This is what I call “wasted talent”.
These aspiring rappers might have actually been good. Their flow might have been good, but their lyrics could be bad. Their songs might be good, but they lacked the promotion. Listen, nobody is born a rapper. We all learn and get better over time. Don’t expect any short term success, look at the big picture and don’t lose hope when you don’t have your dream start.
When Eminem dropped his first album, it bombed. Nobody wanted to sign Jay-Z. The average rapper would’ve given up, if he was in their shoes at the time. But they kept on going and that makes the difference. Keep on hustling and it will eventually happen.
2. Technical Issues
Another reason why rappers don’t succeed is simply because they don’t sound good man. It’s that simple. I know that rapping is a pretty complex subject, but the bottom line is that if you sound good rapping, you have a better chance of succeeding.
It’s funny that I keep on watching people who know everything about compound rhymes, metaphors, wordplay and so many other things, but when you hear them rap, they still can’t sync in with the melody, they still can’t count music and so on. People don’t lie.
You will eventually encounter haters, but don’t look at the individual comments. Look at the general tone of your comments-is it positive, is it negative, what is the main issue these people are talking about. They might be right you know.
Some rappers fail because they do not wish to understand that they don’t sound good rapping and when somebody tells them this, they automatically call him a hater. No man, listen to your listeners. Make sure that you’re on point on the technical side of things. Don’t fall from this cliff. Don’t stay on one place. Seek improvement all the time.
3. Lack of Knowledge
In order to be a successful rapper, who is known(at least locally), you have to be the jack of all trades. Like the Shaolin master, who knows all the combat styles, you have to make sure that you know all the aspects that are vital in this music industry.
People who can only rap, hardly make it. You have to be lucky to have a person who will market you, a person who will promote you, a person who will let you know of the opportunities you can use to your benefits.
This is hardly the case, don’t you agree? The reality is that nowadays nobody gives a shit. You can rap? That’s great, I know five other rappers who are just as good as you, so why should I promote you?
You have to be willing to do this by yourself in the beginning, since there will be nobody there. Kanye West did an interview, where he admits that at the start of his career, he and his crew, were the only people who were listening to his records.
You have to get those business skills in man. Knowing all about mass appeal, marketing strategies, playing with controversy, alternative sources of income and so on. People who never take the time to gather that knowledge and develop those skills, are the ones who FAIL. They make a great song and wonder why it’s not hitting as hard as they thought.
Rap is like an iceberg and you have to go below the surface and get all wet, if you want to know how it actually operates. Research the strategies of Immortal Technique. He is an independent rapper, who manages to get a considerable amount of exposure.
4. No Use of USP(Unique Selling Point)
Let me explain this by giving you an analogy. If you sell milk on the market, why would people buy your milk, instead of the milk from your competitors? What makes you different and appealing?
This is a concept that rappers who fail don’t get. If everybody is rapping about money, clubs and girls, of course it’s extremely easy to make a song about that and get an initial positive reaction from the people, simply because that is “the hot product” at the time.
What they don’t understand is that they don’t win followers, they win fans and fans will leave you the moment you slip up and your identity is a secondary matter in the whole process.
When you create a Unique Selling Point though, people will choose you over your competitors, simply because your Unique Selling Point resonates with them. Let me give you an example.
2Pac’s USP at the beginning was his controversy. His audience kept on getting surprised at the charges, the law proceedings, the problems, the jail time and so on. Since he rapped about that fearless THUG mentality in his songs and when people saw him actually doing what he was preaching, he got respect as a real dude.
Plus, it was interesting to watch what he’ll do next. After that, he noticed that his female fans seemed to double up. Maybe because of his bad boy status, maybe because of his six pack, but they liked him. So what did he do? He changed his USP to creating those “lady songs”, making big money. Very smart move. More people would hear his other songs, if he made a couple of songs for the ladies.
Immortal Technique’s USP is to talk about the conspiracy subject. His lyrics are about corrupt governments, faceless corporations, racism, activism and so on. He is being the person who raps about what is happening in the big picture of the world.
You know why he is successful? Well, one reason is that he filled in a niche, that nobody could. There was nobody out there who was saying all that stuff about the government. You see the Occupy Wall Street Movement? You saw all those people?
Well, those people will eventually go home and listen to something. Don’t you think that the politically charged lyrics of Immortal Technique wouldn’t be tailored towards them? Someone who shares their views, hell yeah man, he is becoming their spokesman.
Remember, a niche is when you have demand, but no supply. If you manage to get there fast and fill in that gap, by using that USP, you will reap benefits. This is probably the most important reason why some get famous and some remain nameless.
Follow These 5 Simple Guidelines and Become a Master Rapper
Everyone wants to achieve the highest level of rapping skill, but just a handful actually get there. Most of us start with great vigor and enthusiasm, but after they get deeper and peek at the complexity of the art, their motivation diminishes and all it’s left with is a broken dream.
Why some of us make it and some don’t? Who is special and who is not? Is there such thing as being special? Are you in the process of achieving mastery?
Use the following 5 principles as guidelines to your claim to fame. If you stay in accordance with them, you’ll reap the long term benefits.
1. Write/Record everyday
Constant practice is essential for your progress as a rapper.
You need to be constantly on it. Reading about rhyme schemes and delivery methods is not half as effective as actually doing it.
You can draw an analogy with the basketball players. It’s not about watching NBA games and learning new moves. It’s all about getting in that gym and working on that jump shot, doing those suicide drills and so on.
I know we all live in hectic times, where so many stuff cross our minds in a short period of time. It gets stressful. However, you should set your priorities straight and really decide what is important and what’s not. Working and developing your craft should be at the top of this list.
Keep on writing and the improvement will naturally come by itself. You won’t even realize how you got better. It’s all about the brain making more and stronger neuron connections.
Repetition builds stronger connections, which means that the more you do something, the better you get at it. Go ahead, research this and see what you’ll find.
2. Start with the Basics, Don’t jump over Chapters
I’ve seen so many people, that don’t know how to count music, but are already trying to learn Big Pun rhyme schemes. It can’t happen. It’s like learning how to scuba dive, before you can swim.
The reason why people do this, is because the foundation is not that fun, compared to the advanced stuff. Most of them see how Big L or Jay-Z play with compounds and that’s where they want to get instantaneously.
No. You give it time. Start with the basics. Learn how to count music, learn how to construct full bars, learn the foundation of your art. The history. You don’t build a house, without a blueprint, so how could you become a large selling rapper, without knowing your craft fully?
There are no quick fixes when it comes to the art of rap. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll be wack.
3. Always Look for Knowledge to Evolve Don’t Stay at one Place for Too Long
After you’ve been developing your craft for a while, you might get to a point where you think “You Know it All”. You’ve covered the main areas and you think you’re done with it.
Now you’re a rapper. No need for writing more practice verses. No need for doing any more research. You’re doing it right and it’s only a matter of time until you get discovered. Oh dear lord..
Rap as an art, or any art for this matter is infinite. There is no ceiling at the top, there are no restraints, there is no book which says “This is how rapping will be done from now on, till the end of the world as we know it”.
Rap is constantly evolving, going from the banging beats to the auto-tune, to all the different rhyme schemes and flows.. It’s always moving somewhere, so why do you think you’re the exception?
You’re a rapper and as a rapper, you act as the microcosm of the whole art. If you don’t grow, you dumb down. You have to make sure you live with the principle of always being a student to the game.
Know that there is always something new to be learnt, there is always a person who have that different knowledge. New flows come out, new ways to write rhymes come out, trends come and go. You can’t stay in a fixed position man. You have to take all of this movement into an account and move accordingly.
4. Grow your Perspective-It’s Not all about Rhymes
In a perfect world, it would’ve been. However, we’re not living in one and the truth is that you have to take care of the bills too. Rapping is not the only thing you have to master.
The knowledge needed for you to put yourself out there is much wider than you’ve ever imagined. You have to know how to market, how to be a great communicator, how to be able to connect with the right people, how to brand etc.
It’s all about being an entrepreneur nowadays and the people who figure this out in the beginning, will be the ones with the Lambos in a few years time.
The keystone is having love for the art, but surrounding that, there is the knowledge of knowing how to deal with the money. There is so much money circulating in the rap industry right now, that it’s really extraordinary.
We took over the world. Music Videos with hundreds of millions of views worldwide. You know, the vultures are where the money is. The more money to be earned, the more vultures will try to suck you dry. Not knowing how to deal with that side of the industry, you’re dead meat.
5. Be Patient, It Takes Time
The last principle is probably the most important one. Be patient. Nothing real happens over night. Change is slow and tedious. Accept and embrace it. Prepare for the long ride and get ready for a marathon, because there are no sprints in the real world.
Put in the work in developing your skill. Don’t look at others for too long. Know what’s happening out there, but don’t get caught up in it. Do you. Be the best YOU can be and have faith in life. If you’re good enough, things will start clicking.
I have a theory that people are like antenna. Our brains don’t store anything, it’s simply out there and we tune in. The more skills we develop for ourselves, the better antenna we become, the more likely god/life/the universe will use us, because our signal is the clearest. You get me?
What is inspiration and when does it happen? You’ve seen dumb and restricted people being inspired? Why should they be inspired? The ones with the skill are the ones who get inspired, because they’re the one who can materialize the ideas, coming from the unknown to this world, without any major distractions in the signal.
Be a good antenna. Develop yourself and let god speak through your art.
Do Rappers Need Rapping Schedules?
We recently received a question from one of our readers, which stated:
“I’m a beginner and I have read many articles, but the problem is that I can’t follow those tips. How can I make my rap schedule? I need help on how can I be more serious about rap??”
Creating a schedule for yourself is perhaps one of the most important tasks, especially when you’re starting up, learning the craft. Actual skill growth doesn’t come in big and sudden leaps, it’s a slow and mundane process, that takes time. So you might as well say that skill improvement is the combination of your daily efforts.
If you truly want to pursue rapping as a career, you should prioritize it and dedicate the necessary time for developing your craft.
Some actionable points.
1. Write, Write, Write
Even if it’s a quatrain, try writing on a daily basis.
It’s so beneficial for your mind, since you get it to accept the writing process as a habit. Once the brain looks at writing rhymes as a habit and not a task, you’ll start to do it automatically. Once you get on that stage, you’ll gladly realize that the length and ease with which you write has exponentially grown.
2. Listen to Instrumentals and Flow
Never stop scatting, that has been the holy grail of many rappers I know.
Even if you can’t spare the 30 minutes to write, just press play on an instrumental and scat to the beat. This way, your flow will be trained and you’d perhaps come across a new rhyme scheme or melody.
3. Read and Learn
There are many people that have done what you’re trying to do right now.
They’ve been on that road and are now talking about it, spilling jewels. Never stop learning and listening to what are the more experienced ones saying. You can always learn something new and incorporate it in your own rise to the top.
If you have other questions, feel free to ask us in the form below and we’ll see what we can do. What is the community saying? Do you have a rapping schedule? Has it been beneficial for you? What is it?
Final Piece – Case Study: How Jay-Z Started his Rap Career
Jay-Z is a hip hop icon, recognized world-wide. His influence and contribution to our art are perhaps unmatched.
The truth is that he started just like you and me-having a dream and the willingness to chase it.
This part will follow his come up and extract key lessons that can benefit all of us.
Jay-Z fell in love with rap—>Began to freestyle with friends on the street—>Met Jaz-O
Jay-Z appeared in Jaz’s video.
*The video didn’t blow up, Jaz couldn’t generate buzz, therefore he couldn’t help Jay-Z with getting signed. Jay-Z gave up on rap and started selling drugs again.
Jay-Z met Big Daddy Kane–>Jay Became his protege–>Kane Asked Jay-Z to tour with him–>Jay-Z agreed
Jay-Z started to release more songs–>Clark Kent(producer) shopped songs to record labels–>Nobody wanted to sign Jay-Z
Clark Kent introduced Jay-Z to Damon Dash–>Damon Dash became Jay-Z’s manager
Dash helped Jay-Z build local buzz–>Jay-Z got put on a song by the rap group “Original Flavor” called “Can I Get Open“
*The song became locally popular and Jay-Z toured with Original Flavor. Unfortunately, the buzz from the song died out and the group disassembled. Nobody showed interest towards Jay-Z
Damon Dash shopped Jay’s demo to Record Labels–>They offered deals, that didn’t benefit both sides
Jay-Z and Dame Dash decided to establish their own Record Label
Released their first song, called “I can’t get with that”
*The song became a local sensation. It was very well received.
Then they released a second song called “In my lifetime“.
Went into heavy promotion
-Look large to be large model(Jay-Z leather jackets/Jay-Z number plates on limos/Roc-A-Fella Promotional Mercedes cars)
-Anything to get attention model(Bum Rush Shows/throwing money in the crowd/partying)
-Street team putting up posters, giving flyers/people contacting DJs and giving them their songs/selling records from the trunk of their cars)
Jay-Z recorded and released “Dead Presidents“
*Irv Gotti got Funk Master Flex to listen to it–>Funk Master Flex played it on Hot 97–>Roc-A-Fella had a radio record.
Jay-Z recorded and released “Ain’t no nigga“
*People loved it–>Song was constantly being played in clubs/Heavy rotation on MTV–>It got picked for the soundtrack of the movie “Nutty Professor”–>Jay-Z became a national star
Jay-Z worked on his first album
He met Biggie and collaborated on a song called “Brooklyn’s Finest”
Reasonable Doubt Dropped! It’s all history from that point on!
-Never give up. Jay-Z failed three times, before he succeeded.
-Be as independent as you can. Jay-Z failed every time he depended on some one. First he thought he would blow up via Jaz, then it was Big Daddy Kane, then it was Original Flavor.
-Be creative when you Promote Yourself. They did everything they could to put the Roc-A-Fella name on the rap map.
-The people around you are as important to your success as you are. If it wasn’t for Clark Kent to introduce Dash to Jay, Roc-A-Fella could’ve never happened. If it wasn’t for Irv Gotti, Funk Master Flex could’ve never even heard “Dead Presidents”.
-Keep pushing and experimenting. You never know how you’ll blow up. Jay-Z didn’t know that he was going to be picked for a soundtrack of a movie and yet this was the factor which contributed to his national buzz the most.