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Should Rappers Get a Beat First or Write Lyrics First?

When a person decides to make a rap song, they could either make the beat or create the music first. To ask which one should come first is a very loaded question.

Rap is a music form where a person speaks in a rhythmical tone over different types of music. So does that mean we need to match the lyrics to the rhythm of the song? Or do we write the lyrics first and create music that matches the natural rhythm of the lyrics? After some research, here’s what I found:

Professional and amateur rap artists make their rap songs in both ways. Most rappers do it one way instead of the other because of habit, resources, or the song idea simply came to them that way. Here’s a clear breakdown of why you might want to get a beat first or write the lyrics first:

ReasonBeat or Lyrics First?
You know a producer who has lots of beats ready.Beat first.
You feel much more comfortable turning ideas into lyrics without the influence of music at first.Lyrics first.
You have a hard time getting ideas out of thin air.Beat first.
You want more flexibility in designing the structure and sections of your rap song.Lyrics first

Now, let take a closer look at why a rapper should get a beat first or start with some good lyrics first.

Adding Lyrics to Beat or Melody

Most people might not understand this point, but the world of rap and hip/hop is dependent on the hard-hitting sound of rap music. In other words, rap music is primarily an upbeat and hyped music form. There is a lot of hard and heavy bass, the rhythm moves fast, and it’s usually accompanied by some type of bass guitar, electric music, or a hook from a song.

Throughout the years, rap has evolved to include EDM, pop, and even country. Truthfully, rap is now being included in almost any type of music genre that is available. This is one reason why rap as a music form hasn’t faded away. Its evolution into different music forms gives it more longevity and it helps to keep it relevant among the masses. Even serious music entertainers, teachers, and theorists now accept it as a standard form of music.

That information was stated to make the next point. When you create a classic rap sound, a contemporary rap beat, or want to include rap into another genre of music; you will usually develop lyrics that would flow (be in sync) with the genre of music being played.

Here is an example of a country song with rap included:


Hitting the backroads, in my 4 by 4

Drinking till the dawn, until we can’t, stand no more

Rolling in the hay with you feels so right,

That’s how we do things on a country night


[created and performed by a made-up hip/hop artist The Legend]

Yippy, yippy, ki-ay, baby I love the way,

You sippin on that hard shine, before we play (in the hay)

You got your cowgirl boots on,

Daisy Duke shorts, can’t go wrong

Your shirt unbuttoned, looking sexy, nothing wrong with that

Creeping like a fox, in the henhouse, ready for me to pet that (kitty kat)

You pass out in my arms, I’m upset, but I’ll manage

You’re a true country girl, so I can’t take advantage

As you can see, this rap was included into this song which we’ll call “Country Night”. The music was first created and then the rap was added into the tune after the singer sang the hook. For this particular song to work, the rap had to be added to the song after the music was created. If not, the song would have changed dramatically.

Keep the following point in mind. When a person creates a rap beat and then add lyrics it will have a different type of flow than a regular rap song. The reason being is that a rap beat is designed to move faster than a regular song. Keep in mind that not all rap songs move fast, but even slow rap tunes, must move faster than regular slow songs.

Don’t ever forget that rappers say more words in a verse or stanza than a singer can utter in a verse or stanza. Singing requires more breath than rapping and the words have to be sung at a slower pace for various reasons. These reasons include transmitting the mood of the song, putting emphasis on the notes, and using the voice to touch the listeners.

Rappers do the same thing but they have to speak slightly faster (even if they are rapping slow), put an emphases on rhythmically speaking, and they must continuously walk a fine line between speaking and singing at the same time. When a rapper creates a beat or the music first and add the lyrics to the tune, they must be mindful of all these different elements. If not, their song will not turn out right.

I want to also add the following point. In the world of rap, you have producers who can create dynamic beats (and music songs) but they need rappers to make the song come to life. We’ll touch off this in further detail later in the article. For now, let’s just say that if you create your beat first, your lyrics should fit the song.

Adding Beat or Melody to Lyrics

Some rap artists have the ability to create their lyrics first before making up (or finding) a beat to fit their rap song. If you are the type of rap artist that comes up with lyrics first then here are some rules you should follow for this process.

The first thing that you should know is that your beat or song should fit the flow of your lyrics. Here is an important point about creating lyrics that cannot be avoided. Believe it (or not) when you come up with lyrics for any type of song (including rap) you are actually making music in your head.

In other words, as you create your lyrics; you already are making music up because you have to do that to get an idea about how your lyrics flow.

 Here is an example of this process, and we’ll use another made-up artist named Blaq Dawg 40 – he is a trap rap artist, so his music has to be hard!

Too Much Murda

[the lyrics presented here will be for the clean radio version]


Ah, they dying ya’ll,

them (beep) keep dying

I want to stop the killin,

hell naw, I’m lying

I love shooting (beep), I love watching people die

They kids should be fatherless,

They rachet momma’s should cry,

Cause them (beep) should’ve known,

Don’t (beep) with a kang,

Stupid motha (beep) didn’t know the kind of hell,

That a (beep) like me bring


Too much murda in the city,

Too much blood on the streets

But I got to keep killin,

So nobody (beep) with me

Okay, as you can see from our artist Blaq Dawg 40, if you make hardcore lyrics, your music has to come across in the same way. You don’t want to put hard lyrics with soft music. Otherwise, you will kill your hardcore vibe. People will instantly recognize this, and no one will buy your music.

Once again, when you create your lyrics, you already know what type of music is going to fit your song. It must be stated again, that you simply cannot make up a bunch of lyrics without having some idea about how they are going to sound when put to music. Ultimately, if you create your lyrics first, you will already have a good idea about the type of music you’re looking for to make your rap song come to life.

How Music Pros Make Their Rap Song

Professional rappers and hip/hop artists make their songs either way. They can start with some lyrics or they can come up with the beats. Again, there is not right or wrong way to do this process. Before we get further into this process, you should know the anatomy of a basic rap song. Here is an example of a basic rap song.

(rap verse)


(rap verse)




Rap songs consist of rap verses and hooks. A regular song has a verse which is a part of the song that helps to give it substance. Rap verses are generally longer than regular verses in songs. The hook usually follows the verse.

The hook of any song is the part that captures people’s attention. It is the part of song that people remember the most. Think about the songs you like to listen to and the part of the song that plays over and over again in the music is the hook. Most people can’t get the hooks out of their minds and it helps to make the song memorable.

Other elements of a song such as bridges and vamps are not normally included in rap songs. However, some rap songs do have them. Remember there is no set formula for making a rap song. Rap songs can also have intros, outros, talking parts (or dialogues), and instrumentals which are rare.

This was mentioned so that you will know that professional rappers don’t stick to one way with making a rap song. A songwriter can start with a beat and add lyrics or vice versa. They don’t restrict themselves to just one way of doing things. Some industry artists might take this approach but most of them don’t. There are always a ton of new beats and solid lyrics floating around the music industry. Remember, the songs we hear today on the radio could have been made years ago before they got selected for us to hear today.

So, don’t limit yourself to just creating a beat before you make lyrics and vice versa. Even if you don’t have the ability to write or to create beats, you still should consider both options when making music. Having the ability to create in both ways will help to expand your ability as a writer, producer, and performer.

Remember, all three of these different areas of the music industry tend to overlap. Professional producers (like Dr. Dre) might be known for their legendary beats, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t created any lyrics to go with his music. Over the years, he has made lyrics for his rap songs. He is just an example of how this process doesn’t have to flow one way or the other.

Finally, if you want to make your own rap songs you can start with the lyrics or the beat. This process is up to you. Don’t limit yourself and your creativity by only taking one approach to making music. Once you become a multifaceted rapper, beatmaker, songwriter, lyricist, and music creator, your entertainment value will soar.

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