Hip Hop Songwriting: Writing to Avoid Clichés

Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo, MC • Producer • Educator

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8 Lessons (14m)
    • 1. Class Trailer

      0:51
    • 2. Overview: Class Project

      1:22
    • 3. Structure of a Rap Song

      1:14
    • 4. Picking a Topic

      1:36
    • 5. Rhyming in a Rap Song

      1:41
    • 6. Selecting "Good" Reference

      3:59
    • 7. Writing for Impact

      2:19
    • 8. Conclusion - Bringing it All Together

      1:16
35 students are watching this class

Project Description

Write and Share an 8-Bar Verse of Your Own!

PROJECT

Your assignment is to write and record an 8-bar verse using a beat provided by producer and MC Sammus. You will identify a topic that is often written about in clichéd ways (love, heartbreak, money) and write a verse about the topic using your voice and the techniques you have learned in the class. At least two of the bars must include internal rhymes. You will complete the course by performing the verse and uploading a recording of your performance to share with the class (this does not have to be a professional recording).

DELIVERABLE

You will write and perform an 8-bar verse that you will upload to the project gallery as an audio or video file. Before you begin any assignments you should introduce yourself through the first community discussion post, and then watch the first three short videos, which provide you with an overview of the class as well as key terms that will help you to make sense of the project.

Then you are to complete the following assignments:

  • Assignment 1: Select a topic that is often written about in a clichéd way (love, heartbreak, money) and write down every cliché or theme that you know related to the topic.  Post your brainstorming session in the community discussion.
    Helpful video(s) to watch: Picking a Topic
  • Assignment 2: Write a paragraph about a personal experience or experiences that are tied to the topic you ulitimately select -- you will use this as your foundation. Post your paragraph in the community discussion.
    Helpful video(s) to watch: Picking a Topic
           
  • Assignment 3: Write the two bar introduction to your verse using the beat provided by Sammus. If you feel comfortable, you can share your first two bars in the community discussion.
    Helpful video(s) to watch: Rhyming in a Rap Song + Selecting a "Good" Reference   
     
  • Assignment 4: Write another two bars that utilize at least one internal rhyme using the beat provided. If you feel comfortable, you can share your first two bars in the community discussion.
    Helpful video(s) to watch: Rhyming in a Rap Song + Selecting a "Good" Reference   
  • Assignment 5: Write the last four bars using the beat provided. Make sure to draw on the tips provided in all of the videos with a focus on placing your mos powerful bars at the end of the verse. You should post the lyrics to your completed verse in the community discussion.
    Helpful video(s) to watch: Writing for Impact  
  • Assignment 7: You are to produce either a video or sound recording of you performing the 8 bar verse over the beat. Resources and tips for recording can be found below. You should upload your mp3/mp4/video of your performance to the project gallery.
    Helpful video(s) to watch: Conclusion - Bringing it All Together
  • Assignment 8: (Optional) Write an entry on “Rap Genius” that annotates the 8 bars. Instructions on how to share and annotate your verse on "Rap Genius" are provided below under "Resources." Make sure you share a link to your annotated verse in the community discussion.

RESOURCES: MATERIALS and LINKS

The beat is available for download above.

You will likely want to have some kind of software that will enable you to record yourself rapping on the beat. This does not have to be high quality. Below are options for you to use:

  • Free download of “Audacity,” which will allow you to record on your computer: http://www.audacityteam.org/download/
  • Many computers and phones are now equipped with a built-in camera -- if you do not want to use Audacity, you may consider using a camera to record yourself.
  • A link to inexpensive USB microphones (consider if you would like to pursue songwriting in the future): http://ehomerecordingstudio.com/usb-microphones/
  • You can also consider recording on your phone using a variety of different apps including apps for iPhones and Android phones.

Links for completion Assignment 8 (optional):

  • To annotate your lyrics make a free account at Rap Genius: http://rap.genius.com/
  • Once you are signed in, click on the "Add Song" link and follow the instructions
  • A correctly annotated verse should look like this.

Resources(1)