For many aspiring hip hop rappers, one of the major goals is to learn how to freestyle rap to become a more well rounded MC. Learning how to rap can be a challenge in itself let alone learning how to freestyle rap. If you’re struggling to learn how to do hip hop music, do not stress yourself out! Rapping is an art that takes plenty of time, effort, and energy to perfect. Hip hop artists like Lil Wayne, Eminem, and Jay-Z are some of the hottest rappers in the game right now. You have to realize that in order to reach their level of rapping it will take many hours of practice. It might seem like becoming a master at freestyle rapping is unattainable, but it is not impossible. Here a few helpful tips to get you started on the right track to becoming a better rapper.
1. Understand Freestyle Rap
The first thing you should understand about freestyling to a beat or instrumental is that its an improvisation. Improvisation is the practice of acting, singing, talking and reacting, of making and creating, in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one’s immediate environment and inner feelings. This basically means that you are rapping “within the moment” or “off the top of your head”. This is an important concept to grasp because many so called “freestyles” are often just recycled lyrics that fit a given beat or instrumental. Recycling lyrics to fit a given situation does help better hone a rappers skills (Also great for showcasing your talent) but based off the previous definition it would not be considered a “true freestyle”.
2. Listen To Freestyles Over Instrumentals
There are many famous freestyle rappers that you can learn from when it comes to freestyling.
Notable Freestyle Rappers
East Coast Rap
West Coast Rap
Dirty South Rap
You want to carefully study freestyles over instrumentals and also freestyles that are simply acapellas.
Beanie Sigel Acapella Freestyle With Tone Trump (No Instrumental)
3. Write Raps, Memorize Them, Practice To Beats
Originally freestyling was defined differently than it is today. In the past freestyling referred to a pre-written rap verse that was used to demonstrate a hiphop MCs rap skills. To begin mastering freestyling, start by doing things by the old definition.
Prepare yourself for advanced freestyling (completely improvised), by writing good rap lyrics. Put together the hottest 16 bars you can think of and commit them to memory. Practice reciting your lyrics to a good hip hop instrumental. Do this until you are confident in yourself, lyrics, and vocal presence.
Next you will want to choose a different beat to rap to but with a similar tempo. Try reciting your lyrics to this beat with the same confidence and a strong vocal presence. Repeat this process on multiple beats. Also, experiment with freestyling your raps on beats with different tempos and moods. Take note of how you say certain words and the points you emphasize. Remember that the biggest factors in a good freestyle are confidence and how you say things.
4. Advanced Freestlying
Once you’ve commited about 20 complete raps to memory and are 100% confident you will be ready to start rapping by the new definition– completely improvising. Put together a collection of hot instrumentals and beats that fit your style that you have NOT rapped to before. Choose around 20-30 hot beats.
This is where the fun and magic begins. Now play one of those beats at random and rap the first thing that comes to mind. More than likely it will be one of your recycled rap lines. Relax. This is ok. These are the beginnings of becoming a great freestyle rapper. Continue this process of forced improvisation until you’ve mastered rapping to your selected beats. Once you’ve done this, write more raps, memorize them, and repeat the process of forcing yourself to freestyle to different beats. Most of all experiment, relax, have fun!
Since freestyle rap has become more improvisation nowadays, it is important to know that good freestlyers are confident because they practice. The more you practice writing raps and freestyling the better you will become. When it is time to freestyle on command, it will come more naturally to someone who has practiced than someone who hasn’t.
5. Test Your Skills, Battle Rap
This can be a scary step for many upcoming hip hop artists but in order to understand how good you are as a freestyle rapper you will have to test your rap skills.
Start small by performing live raps in front of your family, rap peers, and friends. Take note of what lyrics your audience likes. Lyrics that “wow” the crowd are ones that you want to keep in your “bag of tricks”. Your bag of tricks are reliable, go-to lyrics that you can use when in doubt or when you find yourself having trouble improvising.
Your bag of tricks will grow as you continue rapping.
Participating in battle raps is another great way to test your freestyle rap skills. This is not for the feint of heart though! You definitely want to have some tough skin if choosing to battle rap. Be confident and don’t be afraid to loose. Remember to keep practicing. The more you force yourself to freestyle and battle the more you will learn about doing hip hop music and rapping.
Use the internet to battle rap in forums. Also try live freestyle battles via technologies like Ustream. These battles will act as your boot camp or training grounds.
6. Be Open To Haters And Criticism
Not everyone will like your freestyles or raps. That is perfectly fine. If someone is criticizing your rap ask them to tell you how you can improve. Take everything with a grain of salt. You will always continue to improve and get better if you take your criticism and use it constructively.
Follow these tips carefully and you will be on your way to becoming a better freestyle rapper.