How To Appreciate A Rapper

Verse Simmonds vibing while recording vocals

This advice is for people who live inside of the “hip hop bubble”, while not knowing the artist’s true intent.

Praising an artist’s musical ability is always a good thing, but some rappers have a much deeper message to convey that’s not as obvious.

Obviously, artists like Big Daddy Kane and Master P knew what they were talking about when they rapped, they clearly had very little to say.

I think it’s disrespectful to call out a wrapper for how dumb they think you are.

Everyone has their own perception of everything, so if someone criticizes you for enjoying a rapper without knowing what the lyrics really mean, think of the power behind your opinion.

Use your imagination

Man holding microphone

If your goal is to expose other people to a particular genre of music, use your imagination.

Try and put yourself in the shoes of the person listening. If you were in the situation of a new listener, how would you describe the music?

Have a basic understanding of the genre. Not only will this impress the listener but also other people who are aware of the genre.

Get creative. Don’t just keep repeating what you already know, think of ways that you could add a personal touch to the music.

Think about the genre’s underlying messages.

Using the human element

When you’re telling people about how much you enjoy a rapper’s music, remember that you’re talking about a person.

That’s why metaphors and imagery are great ways to express yourself. This isn’t always the case, but there’s also something to be said about incorporating a video into your description.

This allows the listener to see exactly what you’re talking about. Don’t simply say “he’s rapping about his frustrations”, show the video of how he’s really trying to get his point across.

Make your description tell a story and bring the listener into the story. Use the listener’s imagination to see how you would interpret the song and whether or not you would enjoy it as well.

Embellish the music

Hkeem/Drøbakfestivalen 2018

Making a song sound better isn’t always enough. Sometimes you want to embellish the lyrics as well.

Even though the listener probably won’t take them literally, making something into a personal story is better than just taking the words on the page.

When describing a rap song or a verse, there are tons of ways you can incorporate personal feelings or emotions.

Take these examples from Crazy Lyrical Minds’ description of three great rappers:

“As a drummer, Perry Smith’s understanding of music theory is extensive.

Using alliterations and metaphors to bring up his own themes in the music, Perry raps lyrically without losing focus.”

“Drew Love of Bucktown grew up in the same neighborhood as 50 Cent. His story-telling is raw and uncompromising.

His music is fun and easy to listen to and it sounds like it should be heard in clubs”

“The streets became Rapper Cameron’s playground. With his unique ability to see through illusions, he’s able to take things and make them his own. He knows the more you absorb it, the more it gets inside of you.”

All of these examples add character to the story. When you talk about how the song makes you feel, the listener has more of a reason to listen to it.

Use nouns and verbs

Think of a rap song or verse and think of the nouns and verbs in the song.

What is the music really saying? Is the song telling you a story about a girl? Does the song make you think about a celebrity?

You might have to think about this more than once.

But every once in a while it’s worth it to spend a minute or two picking apart how the song is actually saying something.

Incorporate humor

Photo of singing woman in red top and black framed eyeglasses listening to music on her headphones

I’m going to throw this one in here. This isn’t always the best strategy, but when a song is funny, it can add a ton of value to it.

You can take something that’s not even a rap song and make it into a rap song. From there you can add jokes and good vocabulary to it.

Justin Timberlake’s song “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” is the perfect example. It’s a song that describes a guy who enjoys partying.

And by adding some jokes, it makes it more fun. Humor isn’t always appropriate, so watch out.

Conclusion

While there are a ton of great ways you can tell a story about a song, you should always remember what your goal is.

The most important thing to remember is that you want to create an experience for the listener.

So whatever you do, don’t give away too much information. But if you can’t explain it without using words, then at least use imagery.

Use the language of the song to tell your story. The goal is to get the listener involved in the music.

What do you think? What methods have you used to describe rap music? Do you think they’re helpful or useless?

Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!