Rap Rhyme Schemes: How You Can Take Your Lyrics And Flow To Another Level

Rap Rhyme Schemes: How You Can Take Your Lyrics And Flow To Another Level

Written by Jaron Lewis

Every rapper has a different flow, but there’s still disagreement about what rap flow really means. What is it, and why does every rapper have a different one? We’ll discuss what it means and how you can improve yours.

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What Is Flow?

It’s the combination of two elements and it determines the rapper’s overall sound. Those two elements? Intonation techniques, and rap rhyme scheme. If you want to understand a rapper’s flow, pay attention to those two elements.

The essence of a hip hop rhyme scheme is choosing what rhyme words you’ll use, how many you will have and where you will put them. You may find a rap rhyme dictionary helpful to this process.

While the intonation is simply the rise and the fall of the voice. The fluctuations, if you will. Consider the sentence “I never kissed your wife,” and by placing the intonation on a different word each time that same sentence can have five different meanings. Intonation stems from emotion, and feeling.

It’s vitally important to a great rap flow and every rapper will do it different. Think of it as the spirit of your rap rhyme scheme. Without intonation, there is no life, no passion- it’s boring. Throw in the intonation pattern and you breathe life into it.

There are several combinations of rap flows, there is no limit. Imagine two rappers write an identical rhyme scheme… if they both apply different intonations the same scheme will sound completely different.

4 Rules For Great Flow

  • Place a vowel on each beat- you should know how to count the four beats of a bar, because once you can you can write your lyrics to correspond to the length of the pattern. Assuming you know how to count music, it’s vital to the melody to place vowels on each beat.

Here’s how to practice: find an instrumental, recognize each of the 4 beats of a bar, choose which vowel you will say for which beat (you can even say the same vowel), let the instrumental play and say the vowels when each beat plays. The word or vowel that you choose to say isn’t what’s important here, what is- focusing on saying the vowel at the right time. This is how you improve your timing and set your foundation on how to flow.

  • The 2nd rule is the dynamic bar length. It’s simple- write your bars in different lengths, this will give you the ability to shape the flow. You are exerting control over how your lyrics sound. Here’s how: after your end rhyme word place a breath break, experiment with length combinations, record them, and listen and edit accordingly.
  • Build your skeleton before adding lyrics. All the major rappers do it. Step 1 is to make your rhyme scheme skeleton, structure a verse and add the lyrics to match.
  • The fourth rule is all about transition. If you are facing an instrumental with 16 bars and no real difference between each quatrain (a four-line stanza) then you can transition however you are most comfortable.  

However, if there are differences you should mirror the lyrics and flow to the change. For instance, the second quatrain sees an aggressive instrument introduced, you should match that by adding an aggression to your lyrics and flow.

The most vital aspect of rap is how your lyrics correlate to your flow and the beat.



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