A breath break is actually the place where you pause your flow for just a second, breathing in some fresh air in order to continue rapping. If you think of your rapping as a car, the air is your fuel and the breath break is that moment you take, to fill in the old tank.
-Indication on paper
There are many ways of indicating where you gonna take a breath break. I’ve heard that different rappers had their own little symbols and stuff, blank spaces or whatever. The way I do it is really simple. I just put a comma, at the place im taking my breath break.
-Where to take your Breath Break
This is important. You have to place your breath break in a place, where it doesnt damage the sound quality of your flow. Where it doesnt damage your pronounciation, because if you do that, the effect of your words would be just lost. I usually take my breath breaks after I made a statement.
I take breath breaks inbetween or on beats.
For example I might say something from beat 1 to beat 4. After the statement finishing on beat 4, I will take my breath inbetween beat 4 of this bar and beat 1 of the next bar. This way your breath break is hidden, not damaging your flow in any way. However you can start at beat 1 and finish late on beat 4, then you can take a breath break at beat 1from the next bar and start your rap from beat 2. But remember-
Breath breaks are taken after a statement, not in the middle of it.
Breath breaks are taken on the beat or inbetween beats.
-How to take your Breath Break
Breath breaks should be really fast, taking less than a second. Otherwise if too long, the breath break might damage your flow or you might fall off beat. Always breathe in with your mouth. Using your mouth for breathing in is the fastest way to get the bigest amount of air. I dont really breathe in from my nose when I rap, because its too slow for me, the amount of air I get is less, plus it damages my sound.
There is such thing called the Maximum Capacity of your Breath. Its around two bars, meaning that you can rap on two bars without taking a breath break. This is valid for pretty much all human beings. I’ve done around 80 songs all together and there was a time when I was doing one song per day. After this period my maximum capacity stayed the same, so take this into consideration when you write your lyrics.
Two bars at most without a breath break.
Ways of improving the Maximum Capacity
I’ve heard that all the Outkast members were writing their songs while running. Running/swimming would open up your lungs, increasing your lung capacity, but dont get your hopes up, because this might only increase your maximum capacity by an extra beat or two. If you ask me, not worth the effort.
2. Standing up when recording
I read somewhere that when you rap standing up, you give your diaphragm more space to move up and down, allowing you to inhale a bigger amount of air. However, I can tell you from my personal experience that I did many songs sitting down and I saw no difference in my breath control whatsoever. So I think its all about how you feel more comfortable.
Bottom line is that you have to acknowledge that you have a two bar limit and just work with that. Being optimistic thinking you can rap more than 2 bars, might damage your flow, fuckin up your pronounciation.
Thats it. I hope I helped. If you have anything to add or any other questions, feel free to tell me.