There has been a tonne of talk around the web about rhyme schemes, what they look like and how do they actually work. This article will:

  1. Explain what is a rhyme scheme.
  2. Tell you how to use it.
  3. Give you several examples of rhyme schemes.

Jump to:

How To Rhyme Like Nas

How To Rhyme Like Kanye

How To Rhyme Like Kendrick

How To Rhyme Like Earl Sweatshirt

How To Rhyme Like Big Pun

How To Rhyme Like Chance the Rapper

How To Rhyme Like Biggie

How To Practice Rhyme Schemes

1. What is a rhyme scheme?

A rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhymes that is being used, whenever you’re constructing a musical flow. Simply put, the rhyme scheme is where do you put the rhymes, within the couplet.

There are many different types of rhyme schemes. Some are simple, others are complex, but they’re all sharing the same fundamentals.

2. How to use a rhyme scheme?

First, you need to decide how would you want to indicate your rhyme words. Some of us use letters (a,b), while others use the number system (1,2). There are people, who use both, when they’re trying to think of a complex rhyme scheme, involving compound rhyming(1a, 2a).

rap rhyme schemes

After you know how you’re indicating them, choose:

  • How long will your rhyme scheme be?
  • How many rhymes do you want to insert?
  • Where do you want to place your rhymes?

For example-I want a rhyme scheme, that is one couplet long, which has two rhyme words, placed on the fourth beat of each bar.

Then, by using the following method, in addition to your rhyme indication, you can map out your rhyme scheme.

—–4
—–4

That’s the voice of a rap legend in the making
Words coming from my spirit while my body’s shaking

What you see above is a simple, rhyme scheme, with two end rhymes. It’s that easy.

3. Other Examples of Rhyme Schemes

The art of creating new and unique rhyme schemes is not finite. It’s only restricted by our imagination and the vast volume of different rhyme schemes being constructed as you’re reading this is the proof of that. However, there are a few of them, that lasted throughout the years. The classic rhyme schemes.

-Half Bar/Full Bar

–2,–2,
——2

This is fairly simple, but sounds great. You have two single rhymes in your first bar, divided by a breathe break, placed on the second and fourth beat and one single rhyme on the second bar, placed on the fourth beat.

-Half/One and a Half

–2,—
——2

This rhyme scheme is great as a finishing rhyme scheme for your verse. It’s powerful, since the long distance between the first and the second rhyme, gives you a “build up” effect. Place first rhyme on beat 2(bar 1) and second rhyme is placed on beat 4(bar 2).

Simple Internals

—,–1
-22–1

Think like a corporation, I’m akin to it
Is it wrong that I want everything to it

Now, this rhyme scheme might look a bit more advanced, since it has two types of rhymes-type 1/type 2, but it’s not really. Think of a simple 4,4 rhyme scheme. All you do is squeeze in two internal rhymes.

Advanced Internals

–1a—1a
-2-2—1a

What you have here is two compounds in the first bar, two internals and one compound in the second bar.

Rhyme Scheme from Nas State of Mind

*Rhyme Scheme starts at 0:21

The Lyrics

Rappers I monkey flip them with the funky rhythm I be
kickin’ musician, inflictin’ composition Of
pain I’m like Scarface sniffin’ cocaine Holdin’ a
M-16, see with the pen I’m extreme, now

Rhyme Scheme Diagram

1-monkey flip them/funky rhythm
2-kicking/inflicting
3-musician/composition
4-pain/cocaine/pen
5-M 16/extreme

-1-1-
2323-
4–4-
5–4-5

Explanation

You can see that the first bar is a single liner, composed of two compound rhymes-“monkey flip them/funky rhythm”. Nas used three words for his first compound, which is pretty hard to do, especially if you want your lyrics to have any kind of meaning to them. So the first bar is two compounds.

Then, in the next bar you have a strange rhythmic structure, made by alternating single rhymes. If you want to duplicate the second bar, all you need to do is think of two different rhyme words and then two more additional rhymes, coming out of the same rhyme types.

LL

The way you write it is you have “type 2 rhyme” then you pause, “type 3 rhyme” then pause, then “type 2 and type 3” rhymes without any pause between them. So it’s 2,3,23.

The third bar is pretty simple, as it acts like an introductory bar-introducing the “type 4 rhymes”. The fourth bar introduces “type 5” rhyme then “4” then ends up on “type 5”. It’s a rhyme scheme Nas uses all the time. You have 1-1 on the first bar and then 2-1-2 on the second one. It’s a transitional rhyme scheme.

Rhyme Scheme from Kanye’s Gorgeous

*The rhyme scheme begins at around 0:48

The Lyrics

Penitentiary chances, the devil dances/
and eventually answers, to the call of Autumn/
all of them fallin’, for the love of ballin’/
got caught with 30 rocks the cop look like Alec Baldwin/

The Rhyme Diagram

12, —2/
-12,—–3/
33—-3/
—4, 4–3/

*
1-Penitentiary, and eventually
2-Chances, dances, answers
3-Autumn, all of them, fallin’, ballin, Baldwin
4-rock-cop

Explanation

In the quatrain Kanye created his bars with a fairly simple structure; beginning it with 2 consecutive multi-syllable rhymes and ending them with a rhyme that contains the same number of syllable as the previous of the same rhyme (#).

To replicate the rhyme scheme:

    1. In bar 1 try to limit the beginning of your bars to 7 syllables for the first part while creating you rhyme (1 & 2), for the second part focus on keeping it to 5 syllables and ending with your rhyme (2). This bar’s sharpness stems from the syllable usage and the synergy it has with the second.
    2. In the beginning of bar 2, focus on sticking to the same syllable count when inputting your rhyme (1&2) afterwards immediately follow it up with 6 syllables including you end rhyme (3).
    3. Begin bar 3 with 2 consecutive rhyme (3’s) and afterward use the same 6 syllables, including end rhyme (3), to complete to bar as bar 2.
    4. Bar 4 is just a basic bar with two internals(4) and an end rhyme (3).

Rhyme Scheme from Kendrick’s Swimming Pools

*Rhyme scheme starts at around 0:47

The Lyrics

I was in the dark room Loud tunes, looking to make a vow soon
That I’ma get fucked up, fillin’ up my cup I see the crowd mood

Rhyme Scheme Diagram

1-dark room/loud tunes/vow soon/crowd mood
2-fucked up/up/my cup

-11–1
-222-1

Explanation

The ones, who’ve been with us for quite a while, probably see a strong Nas/Big L influence already. The core of this rhyme scheme is the heavy use of compound rhymes, plus a set of three internal simple rhymes. This type of rhyme scheme has been around for so many years and yet, its still topping the charts. A proof that rhyme schemes are timeless.

So, on the first bar, we have three compounds. We have “dark room/loud tunes/vow soon”. As you can hear, they are placed directly on the 1st, 2nd and 4th beat and their specific placement is the reason, why they sound so melodic and “on point”.

After the succession of “type 1” rhymes, the bar doesn’t have a breath break at the end, but keeps on going until the 1st beat of the next couplet. The second bar starts with the internal rhymes “type 2”. Kendrick grouped three of them, right next to each other. You have “fucked up/up/cup.

After the internals, the scheme is ended with a compound rhyme (type 1)-“crowd mood”.

Bottom Line

If you want to replicate it, just think four compounds, three internals.

  • Bar 1-three compounds
  • Bar 2-three internals+one compound

I was in the dark room Loud tunes, looking to make a vow soon
That I’ma get fucked up, fillin’ up my cup I see the crowd mood

Rhyme Scheme from Earl Sweatshirt’s WHOA

*Rhyme Scheme starts at around 0:17

Lyrics

Grab mittens who have to spit, blizzardous
Actually flick, cigarette ash at bitch, niggas
Harassment eight, nickels of hash delay, quick and then dash
To Saint, Nicholas pad to taste venison

Rhyme Scheme

1-1-2,3
12,312,-3
14,-314,-31
4,-314–

1-grab/have/actually/ash/harassment/hash/dash/pad
2-spit/flick/bitch
3-blizzardous/cigarette/niggaz/nickels/quick/Nicholas
4-eight/delay/saint/taste

Explanation

This is complicated, but I’ll try my best to explain it as simple and easy to understand as possible.

The first bar, you have:

1-1-2,3

Grab mittens who have to spit, blizzardous

Here you can see how he introduces the first rhymes “grab/have”. Even though they are not perfect rhymes, they are slant rhymes(share vowels). After the two slant rhymes, he introduces rhyme 2(spit) and then puts a full stop.

This full stop is the overall tactic throughout the whole quatrain. In order to keep its melodic composure, he places a pause after each rhyme 2.

Then he has “blizzardous” which is a rhyme 3. This word marks the start of his triple rhyming technique, which can be seen from the second bar onward.

For the second bar, you have:

12,312,-3

Actually flick, cigarette ash at bitch, niggas

Can you see the triple rhyming pattern? He has 312(blizzardous/actually/flick), then 312(cigarette/ash/bitch), then 3(niggaz). Notice the pause after every “rhyme 2”. This is what holds the scheme together.

Some of you might argue that “cigarette/blizzardous/niggas” are not rhyming with each other, but just notice the first vowel each of them have. Isn’t it the same?

In the third bar, you have:

14,-314,-31

Harassment eight, nickels of hash delay, quick and then dash

The same pattern of triple rhyming, but this time he changed the “rhyme 2” with “rhyme 4”. So instead of “bitch”, you have “eight”. It’s the same pattern, but with another end rhyme.

You have  314(niggaz/harassment/eight), 314(nickels/hash/delay) and 31(quick/dash). Notice the pause after each triple rhyme. Same pattern. “Quick” is a type 3 rhyme, because it has the {I} vowel in its beginning.

In the fourth bar, you have:

4,-314–

To Saint, Nicholas pad to taste venison

This bar is nothing different than the rest. It just continues the triple rhyming pattern. It still has a pause after each rhyme 4.

So, bottom line is that this quatrain is a series of triple rhymes, which are glued together melodically, by placing a pause after each set. If I was to illustrate this, it would be:

abc, abc, abc,
abd, abd, abd,

In the middle of the quatrain, he just switched the end rhyme of his set. So, it’s no longer 312, but it’s 314.

This rhyme scheme is triple rhyming with a pause. But WOW. It did take me quite a bit of time to actually decipher what was happening in it. I’m quite intrigued to analyze some of Earl’s other rhyme schemes. He does have a lot to offer.

Rhyme Scheme from Big Pun’s Twinz

*Rhyme Scheme starts at around 0:50

The Lyrics

Insanity’s building up pavilion in my civilian
The cannon be the anarchy that humanity’s dealing

Rhyme Scheme Diagram

12-2-2
1-1-12

Explanation

This is a clear example of one of Big Pun’s trademark techniques. You can see that he starts with one compound, right? You have “insanity’s building”. The magic comes from dividing this and then rhyming just the second word of this rhyme. So after the 12, he rhymes the 2’s-“pavilion/civilian”.

He then rhymes the first word of the compound-the 1’s(cannon be/anarchy), which is followed by a rhyme, deriving from the full compound-12(humanity’s dealing).

All it is

Full Compound-2nd word of the compound-2nd word of the compound
1st word of the compound-1st word of the compound-Full Compound

Rhyme Scheme from Chance the Rapper’s Cocoa Butter Kisses

*The couplet starts from 0:46 to 0:52.

The Lyrics

Okie dokie alky, keep it low key like Thor lil bro/
Or he’ll go blow the loudy, soudy or sour Saudi/

*
1-Okie/dokie/alky/low/Thor/brow/or/go/blow/sour
2-keep/key/lil/he
3-loudy saudy/Saudy

Explanation

Okay, you first rhyme three(1) simple rhymes one after the other. Chance rhymed “okie dokie alky”, you can write “holy moly call me”. It’s important to note that they’re two syllables. Then he has a break, after which he introduces another rhyme tree(2) with “keep”. Then he has “low key” which is a compound created by mixing the two rhyme trees 12.

He finishes the bar with a 121 combination (Thor Lil Bro). So the first bar starts with rhyming 2 syllables words 3 times one after the other, then break, then the combo 212 a filler word “like” and a 121.

The second bar starts with 1211(or he’ll go blow). As you can see, it’s all one syllable words, that matters.Then Chance introduced the 3rd rhyme tree with “loudy”. He pauses and then has a 3-13(saudy of sour Saudi)

Rhyme Scheme from Biggie’s Hustler Story

*Rhyme Scheme starts at around 0:45

The Lyrics

I got my carrot tank top I got your bank stopped,
sofa’s on top, Benjamins under the rest of them

Rhyme Scheme Diagram

1-carrot tank top/your bank stopped/on top
2-Benjamins/rest of them

-1-1,
1,2-2

Explanation

As you can see, the actual diagram looks very simple. You have just two types of rhymes. What makes this rhyme scheme sound so good, is the placement of those rhymes.

In the first bar, where he rhymes(carrot tank top/your bank stopped) you can just hear how putting two compound rhymes right next to each other sounds.

bigg

They are placed in a way, which takes the full length of the bar. It’s true, he rhymes three words at a time, but I believe a simple compound(consisted of two words) would suffice.

In the next bar he continues with a rhyme from type 1(on top), but for the ending of the scheme, he chooses to switch to the second type of rhymes(benjamins/rest of them). This is the transition. As you can see, it goes from type 1, to type 2 in a very seamless and pleasant manner.

Bottom line is that you have 1,1,1 and then 2,2. That’s it. You rhyme three rhymes type (1) and then you make the transition to the rhymes from type (2).

Example

Do you wanna rhyme tight and take it to the lime light
Then you fight, don’t you surrender, let me be your mentor

1-rhyme tight/lime light/fight
2-surrender/mentor

*What you have to make sure you get right is the actual length of your bars. If you scramble in too many words, the rhyme scheme loses it’s power. It becomes different. Try to do it with the same number of syllables, as Biggie did it. That’s what makes the difference.

Finally, here are some methods on practicing rhyme schemes

These methods will help you improve your ability to create intelligent rhyme schemes.

1st Method-Lyrics to Schemes

1. Choose a Song that You Like

2. Find the full lyrics of this particular song

3. Determine the Rhyme Schemes
-Since you know how to count music, you have to order the lyrics in bars and recognize each rhyme pattern. Not only will you learn how to recognize and properly reference a rhyme scheme, but you’ll gain valuable knowledge on the rhyme scheme used by the rappers you look up to. This can definitely give you more ideas as to how to improve your own rhyme schemes.

2nd Method-Upgrading Bars

1. Write a couplet/quatrain
-Don’t worry about rhyme schemes, just let the words flow through you.

2. Determine the rhyme pattern
-Make a rhyme diagram and figure out the way your couplet looks rhyme-wise

3. Upgrade it
-Think of ways of adding internal rhymes, or maybe turning single rhymes into compounds. Play around with the pauses within your bars. Making the couplet/quatrain more intricate is what boosts your rhyme scheme skills.

3rd Method-Fill The Diagram

1. Create a rhyme scheme diagram
-Use letters/numbers, symbolizing the places of your rhyme words.

2. Fill The Diagram
-Think of a sentence and then change it in a way, that it would fit the rhyme diagram. Place the rhyme on the exact place, the symbol points to on your diagram. Make it fit. This will help you learn how to structure your sentence, in order for it to reflect a rhyme scheme.

4th Method-Wild Schemes

1. In this method, all you do is write how you feel.

If you have introduced yourself to rhyme schemes and have knowledge on the matter, play with that knowledge. Be creative and try playing with as many words as you can. Be different, be bold, you cannot make a mistake here. The only thing you can do is recognize your tendencies when it comes to rhyme schemes and maybe discover a new rhyme technique.

For more information on rhyme scheme, browse here.

 

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Showing 92 comments
  • Jacob Vanderhyde
    Reply

    i thought there were too many rappers to have a chance but when i read and hear some, i get my faith back. you can try to teach comment rappers but you cant teach passion, creativity and individuality.
    “im slurring my words, im speaking in cursive, flee when you see me in person, raised in the sea with the leeches and serpents, i got no reason to surface”

    shit takes years

  • eminem
    Reply

    Lost some screws upstairs
    Considered weird by all my peers
    My brains scrambled, i’m brainless I guess it just disappeared

    How is that one??

    • Sigz
      Reply

      Dude its lit very good

  • Dylan
    Reply

    I really need to know if this is at all correct or if its terribly wrong and what would this rhyme scheme be?

    these (1) days (2) I just wanna hide way (3) in my corner (4) keep blazed (1,2) riding the waves (3) of disorder (4)
    = 1-2-3,4/ 1,2 – 3,4 = one couplet

    seek rage (1,2) fighting dismay (3) from post mortem (4) deep ways (1,2) striking the plays (3) of boredom (4)
    = 1,2 – 3,4 / 1,2 – 3,4 = one couplet

    rhyme scheme = 1-2 – 3,4 / 1 – 3,4 / 1 – 3,4 / 1 – 3,4

  • BBlacka EDI.K
    Reply

    its just blah blah blah on this side, the rhymes shine high but Looks like the contexts died vice versa to mine which Looks surprisingly like creme voila

  • will
    Reply

    my rhythm my flow my bitch
    and my hoe
    im king of bars and yall cant so no
    like the dream the speech
    im the beam which y’all cant reach

    • Shariff
      Reply

      Itchen while im in the kitchen bitches be on they knees after they mop floors u can call me mr clean

    • Anonymous
      Reply

      L

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