Well, does a Rapper have to write his own lyrics to be a rapper? Whether only flowing suffices? or for that matter flowing on any lyrics suffices or are there certain criteria to be fulfilled? No one has undertaken a study of what is required to be a rapper and I believe it is the most complex personality to adopt and go with. Here are Deepa Sai’s words on the issue and hopefully we can have an interesting debate after this. Deepa Sai is a resident of Chennai and is an avid follower of Hip Hop and Metal. What follows below are her words.
As a rapper you have a great responsibility. You need to present your views to a large crowd and sure going to influence loads of people. You need to be earnest and really stand by your principles or what you say .Some people write a lot of weird things and base it on humor, though they do not actually practise that in reality. Humor , a powerful medium is sometimes used as an excuse to communicate false stuff.
You need to have an amazing perceptibility, need to grasp even the slightest of things you see around yourself. You need to be broad minded about things, as that would lead you to be analytical about issues and take a proper stand about them. And the opinions you base from these are going to be very strategic and not some impulsive blinded biases.
You need to have the versatility to accept flaws, acknowledge them in your future raps too. You can have a stand about an issue and may choose to change it, but it’s very important to inform about the transition and also present the reasons for them! That’s how people understand that you are also a human and you learn and grow from your mistakes!
Everyone has opinions. What’s the difference between a rapper’s message and some lay person’s message? As a rapper you use your talent to not spread the message and end it there. You actually give them an invitation to your thoughts. They try to place themselves as you, feel you and emote the way you do and then evaluate the message. You don’t just present the message; you give them the roots too, from where the message has sprung. You give them a base. You do not force people to abide by what you have to say. Rather you give them the reasons about why you have a certain opinion about a concept, so that they analyze for themselves. You get them to listen and evaluate your point of view.
That way you also can write about a third person, by empathizing with him/her. End of day your thoughts are still real as you place yourself in his/her situation and talk about how you feel. You have freedom to express your thoughts and not force people to adopt what you think! Sometimes, if they really like your views, they will get inspired and choose to follow you.
You need to have an incredible imagination to present your views as graphically as possible for people to NOT just understand!!But to experience what you have exactly experienced. It’s like them having a virtual experience of your world and relating to it! Our minds are so complex and to make a person understand what we really see is a tough job. For this, we can get really creative for instance, attributing abstract concepts to concrete ones ( attributing anger to a volcano).
For me rap is something that’s instinctual. If it’s in you, it was already within you. It’s something like a reflex. It’s just like you unconsciously start tapping your leg to the beats of a song! It’s as natural as one feeling hunger or thirst. It’s within people .A rapper got to just tune to that. Rap can not be taught. No one teaches a just born baby to cry. Only as years pass does the infant learn that there are other ways to respond to pain, that is a learned behavior. It is up to a rapper to learn by himself, with a little help from his instinct and more from his own trial and error.
Rap as sprung from an each and every individual vintage rapper’s experimentation with his creativity and also the guts to risk in front of a large crowd! We sure can incorporate some rules, but its no harm to test the earlier rap techniques. Why isn’t there a room for creativity, when rap was born out of it!!
A rapper is also a performer. You incorporate various styles either known ones or new ones to your rap, all for two goals. To grab the attention of the audience and also sustain it till the end! The second goal is getting their concentration. Remember a human has the capacity to divide attention to two or more things, but you need the person to concentrate solely on you. That is where the rapper’s attitude, hype, style, voice, tone all matter. You can add whatever element you want to your rap as long as those “elements are connected to your rap” and make you an awesome presenter! Sometimes the elements do not connect to the rap, and yeah I have given the instance in some paragraph below!!
A rapper connects to every element around and within him/her when (s)he performs. You flow with the rhythm of the every musical instrument that is present around you. For instance, there is a rhythm to your flow connecting to the beats of the percussion. Your voice fluctuations sometimes present the intensity of your emotions like anger, sadness etc,.
You also sense the mood of the audience and try to connect to them. It’s not a random pre written song to be sung. It’s a message to be delivered to a crowd who is willing to listen to you. You need to know how receptive they are and relate to them .Imagine, a rapper rapping with a Jamaican accent to a crowd, that can’t even understand proper English. And also some people have amazing flows, or rap real fast to the point that the audience doesn’t even get the hang of a single word of what the rapper is trying to say! For this issue, clarity matters a lot, if a rapper is trying to match light’s speed! You can have amazing rapping elements. Figure out if those elements can relate to the crowd too.
You need to be sensitive, while you rap, that people are communicating to you too. You need to keep that in mind, when you perform! It shows in their body language. It is a two way communication happening. As they enter your world, they have things to say to you!!!Try and tap that!
Yesterday, I spoke to an acquaintance .He is basically a metal head but he is very much inclined to rap and hiphop. He did Eminem’s Slim Shady cover.He did the first verse. Throughout, he managed to grab my attention and sustain my concentration. He rapped real fast but his clarity was really awesome. And to present himself in a different style he did it by using different cartoon voices also giving a cartoon impersonation of Eminem. I was visualizing an animated cartoon of Eminem’s rapping for me in a cartoon voice! It was incredible to have such feel .But it has become a controversy to be acknowledged as rap in the first place, since he has done a cover and mimicked some cartoon voices. But for me it is different .I just see them as amazing creative rap elements, which made his cover rap more presentable. If he had actually written his own verse and rapped using those elements , his success would have been foolproof!
You need to invent your own style, be it your clothes or how you look. Hiphop and Rap is something that we have also actually have had within us (If we check out styles of rural India, we can get the picture).Hiphop was a way of life! Hip hop is a culture! Rap started as a tradition and later became a sub culture! Every individual has fought his/her way through, has faced discrimination, stigma and a lot of obstacles and has had the urge to express himself or herself! An individual turns into a rapper when (s)he attaches a moralistic element to all his/her experiences and chooses to share these experiences with others in the world (remember man is a social animal!!) or wants to help other people out who face similar situations. It can be merely be just an amusing thought for others to enjoy or giving solace, or sometimes guidance or providing an inspiration or to a larger level, saving a life!!!
And by imitating their habits and clothes, a person merely is vicariously trying to have a hip hop feel.(S)He isn’t being a rapper , that way !A rapper is unique, one presents one’s inner core being and tries to communicate in every way possible through one’s habits or attire or the words one chooses. Not by just redoing the things what vintage rappers had done , unless you have a precise base for it !!!
Claimer: I have read about rap and Hiphop history and also I have talked based on personal experiences !! I have had very insignificant exposure to rap songs. And all these are my own perspectives of how an ideal rapper ought to be ! If there is a change in my perspective , I will sure update!! – Deepa Sai