10 Must-See Recording Tips For Rappers – Do This To Improve Your Flow!
Even if you’ve got killer beats and mad skills in delivering your lyrics, recording rap can be difficult for a number of reasons. Despite having decent equipment, you might struggle with bringing emotion to your flow or projecting your voice. Likewise, all the charisma in the world won’t make up for using poor gear or a shabby studio. Here’s recording tips for rappers to fix all of that and everything you need to know so you can ace your recordings:
Find the right studio for you
This should go without saying, but many artists with a sick flow get wrecked as soon as they enter the recording booth. And it’s not because they can’t rap, but because the equipment used is simply low-quality and that shows big time in the end result. From muffled sounds to limiting the range and weight of your voice, a weak recording system will crush even the finest beats. So make sure you find a decent studio where you’re comfortable to perform. Insulation is also a must so that the booth absorbs sound waves efficiently and you get a smooth, strong recording.
Use a pop filter
Production quality matters more than you might think – so make it a priority to use proper gear for your recordings. This includes a high-quality condenser microphone (don’t use dynamic microphones unless you’re doing live performances) and a pop filter. The latter is a device you use to refine your voice and sift any nasty sounds that occur naturally while you sing. It’s also great for protecting the microphone from spit and unnecessary air that comes from your mouth. Here’s a neat trick you can try: add a pencil to your pop filter. This will separate the direction of the sound and capture high frequencies of the hard “p”, “t” and “s” sounds.
Your headphone mix should be on point
Quality rap has a lot of emotion behind it. Sometimes your technique can be flawless, but you’re not reaching your audience because your voice lacks strength. What you can do if you struggle with this is make sure your music is playing loud and clear in your headphones. It might not seem like a big deal, but trust me, it works. You need to vibe with the beat to get that to come through on the record.
Positioning matters – check yourself
If the mic is near the wall in the recording booth – find another studio. The positioning of the microphone is crucial. Why? Because sound travels at about 1 foot per millisecond. That means that if you’re in a room that’s 20 feet long, it’ll take around 20 milliseconds for a sound to travel from one end to the other. So you want to make sure that there’s enough distance between the microphone and the walls of the recording booth – at least 8 feet is needed. Otherwise, you’ll get comb filtering that will make your voice sound flat and wishy-washy. Also make sure you’re always singing directly into the mic. Not from the side or looking down. This isn’t a live performance – you need to get the take right with as little wind and sound disturbance as possible, not move around rabidly.
Prepare your voice
Now that we got all of the technical details out of the way, let’s focus on the main event – your singing. The sound equipment isn’t the only thing that needs tuning, your voice does too! So make sure you drink lots of water before a take to lubricate the vocal cords and always warm up your voice to soften the throat, jaw and tongue.
Think of your lyrics as a puzzle
Take it from the master himself – Eminem declared in an interview that what he loves most about rap is how “words are like puzzles and you’re trying to figure out what could go here”. To have great flow you need to get in sync with the rhythm and know your way around the nitty-gritty of delivering your lyrics at the right time. So think of your rhyme scheme like a puzzle that you have to cleverly piece together.
Don’t ditch diction
It doesn’t matter what anyone says, to rap faultlessly you need proper diction. You can improve articulation and speech fluency by singing along to your favorite songs and also by doing good old diction exercises. Try it – you’ll notice a big improvement next time you have a tricky one-liner to deliver.
Know when to pause
Mastering breath control is equally as important as enunciation and a pause at the right moment is worth more than a thousand words. You need to make sure that you’re preserving the tone of your vocals throughout the beat and that you’re using the emotional dynamics to your advantage. A lapse in your flow can also allow you to enter your next bar in full force, with much more conviction and power.
If you’re trying to develop or heighten your flow, there’s nothing more useful than doing freestyle whenever you get the chance. This habit is insanely effective if you have issues with clipping or stuttering over words. It can also help if you tend to freeze up when recording because you’ll learn to improvise and come up with some quick fillers that you’ll always have on-hand. Here are some tips and tricks that can improve your freestyle:
don’t stop when you stumble or your lines don’t rhyme (mistakes are inevitable, just keep going);
rap about anything and everything around you when you’re practicing – people, settings, colors, clothing, objects; whatever you see you rap about;
listen to other rappers and analyze their freestyle;
rhyme ahead of time in your mind; immediately think of a word that rhymes with the end of your line;
Keep it flowing
Practice makes perfect. Wherever you are, whenever you can, make sure to practice.
Freestyle, improve your diction, do breathing exercises and train your voice. If you want to succeed at anything in life, you need consistency. But even more so when it comes to rapping and being dead-on with your recordings. So make a commitment to yourself that you will rehearse daily and try to squeeze in extra practice into your schedule whenever possible.