Have you ever wanted to be a rapper? Do you have a knack for poetry? Are you full of rhyme and rhythm? If so, you may want to go for a career as a rapper! Rap used to be a small niche area in music, but lately, it has gained popularity with mainstream music buffs and taken the world by storm. Rap is really a type of poetry, though some argue that it isn’t music, because there is often limited or no music accompaniment. A career in rapping can be very lucrative. Performers such as Eminem and Usher have made money in the millions for their talents, though breaking into the “big time” is difficult and highly competitive.
The requirements for rappers are mainly that you should be artistic and have ideas which can be made into rap songs. Most rap can adequately be described as “talking in rhymes.” You can take an every day situation or event and “rap it out” in poetry. The poetry is very loose in format and does not fit the traditional definition of poetry, but it still rhymes and has rhythm, so in the most literal sense, it is. A new style of rap, called “freestyle rap,” does not even have to rhyme.
You do not need a formal education to become a “rapper.” Many people pick it up around the neighborhood with their friends. But a degree or certificate in drumming or percussion would be ideal.
AN ALTERNATE ROUTE
If you do not get a formal education, simply take some classes in music, study common poetry, and rhythm instruments. Though you usually won’t be playing instruments while rapping, it is often accompanied by wooden sticks or drums. So a background in the rhythm instruments would be beneficial.
STEPS TO BECOMING A RAPPER
1) Join a local rap group. Many rappers start just by playing in a garage band, making up poetry to themselves, or writing down lyrics. Practice making up raps as you walk down the street, based on things you see. For example, instead of saying, “There’s a car coming down the street,” say, “See that car (pause) comin’ down the street…(pause)..it moves and hums and dances to the beat…” Get into the rhythm of common poetry and you’ll soon be tapping out your own original lyrics and raps.
2) Watch other rappers perform. We learn a lot by watching others. Some filmmakers say that they studied Steven Spielberg’s films to become a better filmmaker. By watching his films, analyzing them, then applying his techniques to their own work, their filmmaking improved greatly. So watch how the professionals do it. There’s no better way to learn than to learn from the pros in your chosen profession.
3) Practice, practice, practice. The more you work on your skills, the better you will get. So practice every chance you get, perform for family and friends and record your “performances” so you can try to improve.
4) Get an agent. If you plan to take your artistic act on the road, or try for the “big time,” you will need an agent. An agent can get you jobs that maximize your visibility and get you noticed. They try to find gigs that show you in the best light possible. They get 10%, on average, of everything you earn. But it’s worth it, if they’re good!
5) Start recording your best rap songs and upload it! Use digital sales channels to sell your individual tracks, or monetize a video of your performance on You Tube. People are getting discovered much more easily these days by publishing themselves online!
There are many paths to a life as a rapper. Just start by coming up with some material and recording it to see how it sounds. Look into music programs in good colleges or arts schools to see what type of training you need to improve your skills. Who knows? You might be the next Will Smith just waiting to happen.