How To Improve Your Rap Performance

Today we will be discussing the tips, which would improve the quality of your rap performance. In this article, we will touch on the following:

  • Lyrics-Commit to memory or Read from paper
  • Voice Emotion
  • Pointers worthy of consideration

1. Lyrics-Commit to memory or Read from paper

There has been an age old debate about which is the better way to lay your lyrics. Should you read them from your notepad, or should you try to commit them to memory and perform, laying your verses straight from your dome. The debate is useless, because there isnt a “better” way. Both methods have their own benefits and drawbacks and it all depends on the preferences and needs of the rapper. Each method has its famous supporters. For example, 2pac and Eminem are using the Read from paper approach, while Biggie and Jay-Z are laying their verses straight from the head. Lets find out why.

-Commit to memory


Write your lyrics on paper and then try to memorize them by repeating them many times, until they stick to your brain. When it comes time to perform, you would deliver the lyrics recorded in your memory.
Another method is to skip the writing part and just compose the rhymes in your head, but im not gonna touch on that, because its a very advanced technique, the explanation for which would need an article of its own.


  • Rather than trying to remember the whole song, devide your material into a number of digestable chunks.The most common way to devide your lyrics is to devide them in verses. You can then try to memorize each verse at a time by continuos repetition. After you’ve commited to memory all the verses, try combining them into a one big whole. Repeat the whole song a few times to make sure you have it all remembered and perform.
  • A study was conducted, in which scientists found out that if you repeat something 18 times, whatever it is, you will have it memorized.

1. It might be easier for some of you to concentrate on giving the proper emotion to your words that way. Since its all in your head, you eliminate the possibility of sounding like you are reciting the lyrics.
2. If your song gets popular, you would have to memorize it anyway, so you can perform it live or on video. Remembering the whole song before recording, compensates the time you would have to spend memorizing it then.

1. Some people just have a bad memory, making the task of remembering a whole song quite difficult and time consuming.
2. The level of concentration when performing a song straight from your head is much higher than if you were to read it off a paper. In the middle of your recording you might slightly lose focus, have a random thought and mess up everything. Having to do a song over can be a very irritating task.
3. It takes time to memorize all your verses and if your aim is to improve your flow and your rapping skills in general, trying to commit a song to memory before recording might harm your productivity levels

-Read from Paper
First off, write your lyrics on your notepad in a clear and easy to read way, putting a bar on each line and defining the boundaries of each verse. Go throught your lyrics a few times until you can rap all three verses in one take. If you feel confident enough, start recording.


  • Always make your lyrics as easy to read as possible. You might think you can read it now, but when you start recording, you gotta be in sync with the instrumental and even the smallest hesitation causes a great fall in the quality of your recording.
  • If you have stuff that you’ve crossed out or words that were misspelled and corrected while you were composing your lyrics, it would be a good idea to copy your whole song to a fresh piece of paper. This way, you would save yourself from having to do a song over, because you couldn’t read your own handwriting.

1. This method is very time efficient. All you do is right your lyrics, repeat them a few times and you are ready to record. If your main aim is skill improvement, you need to be productive and write a lot of practice songs. This method enhances production because of its time efficiency.
2. You eliminate the chance of forgetting the lyrics. If you’re rapping from memory, there is a chance that you forget your rhyme structures, quatrain order and so on. If you’re rapping, looking at your notepad, everything is right infront of your eyes.

1. In the beginning your rap might sound like you are reciting the stuff you’re saying. Rapping is an art where the rapper “talks” to his audience and if you dont know how to project the right emotion with your voice, reading your lyrics might sound dull, boring and not genuine.
2. Since you have to hold the piece of paper in one hand, look at it and read off of it, your movement is likely to be limited. You can’t really move around or take your eyes off the paper for too long, because you might lose track of your lyrics and/or mispronounce words.

My Recommendation
If you’re learning how to rap, you need to write a lot of practice songs. Having to remember each one before you record will be very time consuming and strenous task. Write your lyrics, repeat them a few times, record and go to the next one.
On the other hand, if you have a single, a very important song which would determine your future in the rap industry, you do need to take the time and commit that song to memory. It will help you express the emotion of your lyrics better, plus, if you make a video of it or have to perform it live, its mandatory that you know it by heart.

2. Voice Emotion
Do you remember the lesson we had about Rap Content? In it, you learnt that each song has three components-Melody, Lyrics and Voice. Each component is crucially important for the success of the song. If you want your song to have a great impact on your audience, you need to tune in all three components into one mutual emotion, which they all convince.

You have to make sure that your voice projects a certain emotion which fits in with the other two components. If the emotion from your voice is different from the emotion of the instrumental, your song wont have the desired effect on your audience. It wont sound that good and it would be easily forgotten. Therefore the emotion with which you rap is incredibly important for a song.

After you’ve chosen your instrumental and written your lyrics, it’s time to record your song. Figure out what kind of emotion does your song convey. After you’ve figured that out, do an activity which helps you generate that emotion. If you feel that certain emotion strongly, it will affect your voice when you record your performance.

For example
The emotion of your song is anger. Your instrumental is aggressive. The lyrics you’ve written are full of rage and anger. Before you do your recording, do something which gets you angry. Maybe you can remember somebody who you dont like and the only thought of him makes you angry. Maybe you can think of the time when you were really angry. Perhaps you can watch a video which gets you into that state. The main objective here is to get angry. At the moment you can feel the rage circulating in your system, put your headphones, start the instrumental and murder it.

3. Pointers worthy of consideration

-Avoid Frustration
When you first start rapping, you will make mistakes. Its inevitable.
Dont get frustrated when you mispronounce words.
Dont get frustrated if you show hesitation and mess up your flow.
Dont get frustrated when you forget your rhymes, if you rap from memory.
The only thing frustration brings, is more frustration. When you’re frustrated you lose focus and this causes you to make more mistakes, which leads to more frustration. The only thing to do, whenever you make a mistake is to act cool, repeat the word or phrase you said wrong a few times, get it straight and start over. You’ll get there.

-Make sure your microphone settings are adjusted, prior to recording
Picture this. You put your headphones, you start the instumental and just murder it. Your delivery is at its best. Your pronounciation is great and your whole performance is top notch. The instrumental finishes, you take off your headphones with the feeling that you’ve done a great job. You sit down behind your computer to listen to your great performance. You press play and you find out that your mic volume was too low and you can hardly understand your own words, so you gotta do it over. Test and adjust the settings of the mic prior to recording.

-The volume of the headpones
The volume of the headphones is important too. While with your headphones, you have to be able to listen to the instrumental and hear your own voice at the same time. If the volume is too high, not hearing your own voice might result in falling off track or mispronounciation. If it’s too quite, not hearing the instrumental properly might result in the same thing. So you have to make sure you adjust the volume of your headphones properly. Make sure you can hear the music and your voice at the same time.

If you have anything to add or comment on, feel free to do so.

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