What Do I Rap About?
Most blogs would say the following: if you don’t know already what you are going to rap about, you’re lost. This is not true. It’s okay not to know what subjects to take on, especially when you are young. The dismissive method of answering an important question is wrong.
Bloggers: if you feel like it’s too obvious of a question, you may not know the correct answer and you need to check your ego. Because the answer is not obvious. The answer: “just be true to yourself and write what you feel,” is a cliche, it helps no one. This is because it doesn’t give the reader the answers they are looking for. Which is what subjects, attitudes, themes and tropes they should write about.
The Simplest Answer
The traditional subject matter in hip hop is rapping about how good you rap. Other notable subjects: Sucker MC’s, the place to be, where you’re from and the crew you identify with. Master these topics, they are inexhaustible. (even though contemporary audiences are becoming bored of traditional rap tropes. That is why we will evolve this thinking a little bit…)
The key to mastering any craft is to carry on tradition. Traditions are simply archaic ways of passing on vital information that society pressures you to obey. The true artist sees through the societal bullshit for what it is. Every culture has traditions. Hip Hop is no exception.
That is just something to write when you first start out. Your subjects will get more complex as you develop your persona and learn what styles you are best at. Before you think about any of that, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself…
What Do I Rap About: First Styles To Master
Some topics are so common in Rap they become a style to master. The first rap styles to appear in hip hop are the first topics to rap about. Rap stayed relatively simple from 1979 up until 1986. Here is a list of rap styles and their related tropes, also some artists to check out to learn what to rap about.
The “Party Rock” Style
Notable Artists: Grandmaster Caz, Melle Mel,
The original style of Hip Hop.
The “Braggadocious” Style
Everyone raps about how dope they are this style is ubiquitous.
The “Battle Rap” Style
Insults and character assassination.
The Final Answer
When most bloggers tell you that you should already know what you should rap about, or that you should follow your heart and rap about what you love, they are not wrong. They are 100 percent correct. But, that is not an answer you give to a new rapper eager to learn about the craft.
Most teachers try to force macro-level concepts down your throat in the beginning, hoping to shortcut the learning process. That is why you get overly simplified answers to beginner level questions. Because the teachers have become advanced they expect everyone to come to their level. They mean well, because they want you to skip the steps they had to take, and just be good.
But, now that I have answered your question in the best way I know how, it is time for you to do some soul searching. What subjects are closest to your heart? Who do you admire most as a rap artist? And if you don’t know the answers, write along the lines of the traditional subject matter. Eventually you will come to find out who you really are, as if you are overhearing yourself for the first time.