Rap has become one of the most popular art forms in the world, particularly among young people. It’s a form of expression packed with power and influence. It’s almost exclusively delivered in the spoken form. While many rappers are quite skilled in “freestyling” (rapping off the top of their head), when it comes to writing songs or lengthy verses, most rappers choose to write their lyrics before performing them.
When it comes to music, one of the best feelings in the world is when you inspire someone, and lyrics are one of the most effective tools you have as a rapper to bring that inspiration.
With that said, here are my… 5 Tips for Writing More Inspiring Rap Lyrics:
1) Find a deep sense of purpose and motivation
It’s fascinating how often in life we do things without really understanding why we are doing them. Or worse still, when we have selfish, or even corrupt motivations for our actions. If you want to write inspiring lyrics, you have to tap into a deep sense of purpose of why you are rapping in the first place.
I recommend spending some time in deep prayer and meditation, and reflecting on why you want to rap, and how you want to use rap to make a difference in the lives of others. Then write down what comes to your soul.
For me, my stated mission in rap is simple: To uplift, educate, and inspire. By having that as my stated mission, it has really helped guide me in the type of music I create and the type of lyrics I write.
2) Read inspiring material connected to your song content
One of the most effective ways to start writing inspiring lyrics is by getting inspired by someone or something else. For me, I’m a member of the Baha’i Faith, so I virtually always turn to the Baha’i writings and scripture for inspiration. I’ll research what the Baha’i writings say about a particular topic, and then draw out the parts that I find most inspiring and captivating, and integrate them into my lyrics. If you have a particular faith or belief system, turning to that during your creative process is sure to guide you in writing more inspiring lyrics. You can also just look up inspiring quotes by noteworthy people related to the topic you want to rap about.
In addition, doing research by reading books and articles, or by watching videos is another great way to get inspired. I like to start my writing process by identifying a theme or song idea. Once that’s identified, you can see if there are any good books on the topic, or any interesting talks or videos you could watch or listen to in order to get yourself inspired, and then incorporate what you learn into your lyrics.
3) Start your writing process by brainstorming
The first two tips should give you a really solid foundation for any song or rap lyrics you want to write. You know your purpose for creating, and you’ve gone to a deep source of inspiration to spark your mind and soul. When it comes to actually writing the lyrics, a lot of people get stuck.
What I like to do before writing any actual lyrics, is list out all the points I want to touch on in the lyrics. Personally, I like to bullet point them all out, but you could do it in a variety of ways, such as free-writing or using a graphic writing organizer.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll now have a ton of material and ideas to draw from that you can easily incorporate into your lyrics. All you’ll need to do is restructure the way that it is written in order to fit the rhythm and rhyme scheme you desire with your rap style.
4) Study other inspiring rappers
As with any craft, one of the best ways to learn is by studying the greats. Emphasis on study. There’s a difference between listening to a rapper and studying them. In this context, think of a rapper that really inspires you. Then, listen to some of their songs with an analytical ear, and identify and write down what it is exactly that you find inspiring about them. Is it the topics they rap about? The emotion they convey? Their storytelling ability? Once you’ve figured out what it is, try to incorporate it into your own lyrics.
For me, one of the rappers I’ve gotten a lot of my inspiration from is named Karim Rushdy. He is also a Baha’i-inspired rapper, and I’ve always been captivated by the way he incorporates the teachings of the Baha’i Faith into his lyrics in an unashamed, yet humble way. I also find that he’s able to make his Baha’i-inspired lyrics understandable and relatable to people whether they are from a Baha’i background or not. He also raps in a way that emphasizes solutions in order to motivate the listener to take action. I’ve really striven to do the same in my lyrics.
5) Rap about your personal experience
When writing lyrics that aim to inspire others, it can be easy to shift the focus away from yourself and exclusively onto the theme or concept you want to rap about. However, one of the things people generally find most inspiring and relatable is when an artist displays vulnerability and taps into their own feelings and emotions. Often times, the listener shares those same feelings or emotions, or if not, it can still tap into their sense of empathy, which leads to an emotional connection. When this connection is made, it can make for a very inspiring experience.
Personally, once I’ve identified a song idea, I like to then reflect on my own experience in light of all the steps referenced above: grounding myself in my purpose for creating, doing some spiritual and intellectual research into the theme, brainstorming my lyrical ideas, and thinking about how to build off the style of other great rappers. I then like to reflect on my own struggles, pain, joys, and aspirations related to the song idea, and then weave them into the song.
So there you go! I hope these 5 tips help you in writing more inspiring rap lyrics! Even if you just incorporate one of the five tips, it’s still bound to help you out a lot.
Please share your feedback in the comments below! What did you think of my five tips? Were any of the five most helpful? Are there any strategies or tips you have for writing more inspiring rap lyrics?
Want to understand these 5 tips more deeply? I also did a podcast episode on this topic, which you can find here: