How To RAP: It Aint WHAT You Say, It's HOW You Say It!
In the arena of commercial rap, it's not about WHAT you say anymore. Now, it's about HOW you say the same things that are already being said.
Nowadays, the WHAT, or content, of a rapper's song can be as shallow as a mud puddle on asphalt. Listen to the latest so-called "hits" in rap music and you will find the tops of the charts filled with songs that are musically powerful and innovative. However, the lyrical content is so weak that it couldn't penetrate wet toilet paper with skid marks.
Sadly enough, this is the "mainstream" of rap music today with songs such as "Laffy Taffy" in constant rotation on radio stations around this nation. This one song is evidence of the continued trend of "dumbing down" the lyrical content of rap music, which use to do more than a provide hearers with a few catch phrases to toss around in the clubs and on the streets as the latest slang.
Who cares WHAT these rappers say as long as they say it in some non-mainstream way! Since the retirement of the Black Consciousness Movement in rap back in the late 80s, nobody seems to really care just how DUMBed down this genre of music has become. As long as money is flowing, rappers of today will keep the dumbness going.
In this day when most intellectual stimulation in rap is found mainly in the "Underground", the key to success in the mainstream is to dumb your lyrics down to an audience with a maximum of a fourth-grade education. Never try and show how clever you can be or how educated you really are. Doing this will keep your "hot" album cooling off on the shelves.
Remember the "K.I.S.S." principle. Keep It Simple and STUPID!
As a rapper, pay attention to the success of Jay-Z and learn from his phenomenal success. When he started out, his lyrical presentation was not only packed with machine-gun-like deliveries, his use of words to paint pictures was incredible. The problem was that his audience couldn't keep up with his complex cleverness. So, what is a smart rapper to do? Answer: Play dumb.
That's right, play dumb. Forget about trying to impress the masses with your intellect! You must give the audience what they want. In order to do that, you must give them what the can understand! In order to do that, you must figure out what they can understand. If it means slowing your delivery down from 200 words a minute to just 20, then do it!
Remember, you are an ENTERTAINER. Don't take yourself too seriously. You can't dominate the mainstream while preaching Revolution on every one of your tracks! Entertain the masses, make your money and then bow out gracefully.
Think about it this way. There's not a whole lot to talk about in mainstream rap. It's all about money, clothes and h... uhhh...women. You just have to find your way of saying what is already being said. It's even okay if you use two or three verses from the next man out there! Don't worry! "Biting" is okay in mainstream rap!
The biggest names in rap (who are still living) understand that it's all about entertaining the masses. Don't you forget it! You are in the music business, indeed, but never forget that the music business is only a small subset of the Entertainment Business.
Fact: It's hard to stay hungry when your pockets are fat! Ask LL about that one! Likewise, it's hard to stay "hood" when you have achieved CEO status. If you wanna "keep it real", you don't want to make millions of dollars. If that's the case, stay "gutter" and grimey - stay underground! That way, what you say WILL matter to someone, even if it is just the folks on your block.