What You Must Know About How To Rap Fast!
Do you want to be able to rap super fast with those dazzling double time flows? Well in this article I will tell you what you must know about how to rap fast!
First if you want an example of fast rap then watch this video of my song VINE VUDUU! (The faster flows begin 50 seconds into the track if you’re pressed for time!)
So called ‘fast rap’ or that ‘chopper style’ hasn’t always been my strong suit as I traditionally came from a slower boom bap background rather than trying to flex super, fast flows over fast BPM tempos. However I’ve always admired and respected rappers that can and I wanted to prove to myself that I could create a song utilising that style. Plus I’ve always been a big fan of genres like Jungle, Drum and Bass etc that are in much faster tempos than boom bap style hip hop. Using a chopper style lends itself more to faster paced beats.
Rapping fast can initially seem to be a daunting task. But once we get into what I think are the most important things to know in order to learn how to do it, you’ll see it as much more achievable. Trust me, I felt the same way!
First let’s not sprint before we can even walk! This article assumes you already know How To Rap On Beat and How to Develop An Outstanding Rap Flow. If you haven’t read those articles yet I encourage you to do so especially if they are currently weak points for you. You should also read my 5 Awesome Tips To Improve Your Rap Flow and Easy Music Theory for Rappers too. Once you’ve read, understood and worked on these points, then you can come back and get into utilising these skills to develop super fast flows.
Ok Done That! Now What?
Great! It’s important to remember that spitting fast is all about efficiency. We’re going to be pushing your delivery and rap flow to the limit as you try to squeeze in as many syllables as possible into each bar. So let’s look at what I think are the 3 most important ways upon which to do this.
In both my articles How To Rap On Beat and How To Develop An Outstanding Rap Flow I talk about syllables and how to fit them into the bars of music within a verse of a song. When it comes to rapping fast where efficiency is key, it’s important to know that not all syllables are equal. Just because it might be one syllable DOES NOT mean it is just as good a choice as any other. Some syllables are actually more time consuming to say than others. A word like ‘funk’ for example is more time consuming to say fully than the word ‘beat’ despite them both being only one syllable. You should always keep this in mind whenever you’re writing with the intention of it being delivered quickly. You might be able to say the same thing but with a choice of syllables that are easier to deliver quickly!
2.Breath Control and Timing
In the same way I think it’s important to choose your syllables wisely, the same can be said for choice and timing taking your breaths between syllables. You want to sound coherent and not like you’re hyperventilating just by trying to deliver your fast paced verse. Similar to what I talked about in How to Rap On Beat just because it looks good and sounds good written down on paper or in your head, doesn’t necessarily mean it translates well when you actually deliver the verse in real time. You might have unwittingly forgotten about when to take breaths during your verse and forgotten to account for the time it takes to take a sufficient breath in between. Once again efficiency is key and there is a balance to be made where you might want to drop an extra syllable and use another word containing less in order to allow time to take another breath, or a deeper breath. You can only truly get the gauge of how and when to do this by doing the tried and tested method of actually delivering your verse over the instrumental you want to spit to and amending where necessary.
3.Balance Between Consonants and Vowels
According to the Cambridge Dictionary a consonant is;
“one of the speech sounds or letters of the alphabet that is not a vowel. Consonants are pronounced by stopping the air from flowing easily through the mouth, especially by closing the lips or touching the teeth with the tongue.”
According to the Cambridge Dictionary a vowel is;
“a speech sound produced by humans when the breath flows out through the mouth without being blocked by the teeth, tongue, or lips”
Letters that represent vowels in the English language are;
a, e, i, o u (and sometimes y)
Syllables you use in your lyrics will have a combination of both of consonants and vowels. In order to reel them off quickly the key is to strike a decent balance between the two within each bar so that you can seamlessly and smoothly spit from one bar to the next.
One of the most common ways of striking this balance is through utilising words that have two consonants in the middle. This creates that almost ‘galloping’ sounding flow that rolls off the tongue quickly and smoothly. Notice how I utilise this in my song VINE VUDUU! about 50 seconds in when I switch up the flow and say;
“Got grit in my quiver
to trigger the slicker
I’m dimming the glitter
and shit on your figures
I’m iller and sicker
than all of you kidders
guerrillas bring shivers
to driller militias”
Utilising words like quiver, trigger, slicker, figure, iller etc are all very useful words as they have two consonants in the middle which allow the word to roll off the tongue more easily (at least in the English language and provided the English language is a language you’re extremely comfortable speaking in!)….
….What About Lyricism Though???
Excellent and fair point! Fast paced rap has often been criticised as something that is more about flair than substance. It’s not uncommon for some listeners to say something like, “I don’t care how quick you’re spitting! I can’t understand it? So what’s the point??”
To that I say, yes personally I love good lyricism and I think it’s possible to deliver it even if you’re doing so quickly. In fact I value lyricism so much I wrote an article about that too with 5 Amazing Tips on How to Write Lyrics. But to me rapping is one of many art forms and like all art forms it is subjective. Some listeners only like rap when it’s really accessible and easy to understand and comprehend. Others like accessible words but deep, thought provoking lyrics. Others like rap less in terms of lyricism and more as an extension of another instrument with the mouth to the music. For example old school UK Garage and Drum and Bass MCing has traditionally been more about hyping the crowd and getting them amped to the music than delivering deep thought provoking lyricism. Similarly the so called and much disparaged ‘mumble rap’ as it’s negatively termed has been more about creating a sound, mood and a vibe than presenting anything deep in a lyrical sense.
Again lyricism doesn’t have to exist within rap in my personal opinion. There is music I enjoy that is lyrically as deep as a teaspoon. But I still like it in the right circumstance and situation.
This article as with any of my rap articles isn’t intended to tell you what is and isn’t good per se. Like I say, it is subjective and you may find in different situations you might want to utilise a varied combination of lyricism, flow, speed etc… And that’s fine!
The point of this article as with any of my others (and my Learn How to Rap eBook!) is to facilitate your ability to be creative and self expressive because the more of us able to do so in a myriad of ways, the better it is for us all and the culture!
As you start developing your skills and ability to rap fast, you’ll notice more and more that it is about striking a balance between delivery, flow and lyricism. Developing your skills in this area even if it’s not really your forte will actually open you up to more creative ways of delivering and flowing over the beat even if you decide to slow things down!