For people who are not so much aware of what it is exactly that one needs to do to become a rapper, it may seem like an easy path. It may seem very little work in terms of the amount of time and effort, the energy needed to become a rapper. But a microphone and some knowledge in melody and rhythm are not the only things that are needed to become a rapper. There is, of course, a difference between rap as a hobby and rap as a professional career.
Success comes in different ways and at different paces or stages in peoples’ lives. Some people achieve success quicker than others. When it comes to stories of overnight success, there is usually a well built and hardworking team with a heavy resource at the backstage, constantly supporting the artist and creating numerous opportunities for them. However, it is very difficult to find a team that has a well built network, and it often takes months or even years to build a strong network in order to reach a larger audience.
It is important that you accept your reality, and are prepared to take the long path. If you really want to become a part of the music industry, remember that you may have to take up work in the beginning that you were not exactly looking for. Be it 9 to 5 jobs or something else. Sometimes, you just have to be patient and not get discouraged.
If you are somebody who wants to become a rapper professionally, here are some of things that you need to think about before you begin your journey in the rap world:
Music Comes First
Always put your art above everything else. Keep experimenting with different rapping techniques, practice with a metronome or background beats. Learn to play an instrument and keep practicing and playing it. The journey of learning an instrument will create so many tunes, rhythms and beats inside your mind and inspire you to compose something of your own.
Give just as much attention towards writing. Whatever it is you want to rap about, should come from your heart. Write about what you want your music to express. Keep writing and practicing your flows, while creating your individual style and sound. Try to figure out your own way of enunciation and intonation. It’s important to learn the power of assonance and work on your lyrics writing.
The Stage Name
You also need to decide on what your stage name will be, before you start going up on stages and performing for people. Your stage name should be catchy or something that holds some sort of an emotional attachment to you or the art itself. This would end up being your rap identity and alter ego of sorts, so make it count. The snazzy world of hip-hop is all about aliases. Make yours the one that managed to grab attention. After that, it’s all about that rap!
Work On Your Stage Presence
Once you have picked a stage name for yourself, you need to find out what your stage persona is like. Try moving, grooving and performing in different ways. Let the beat guide you. Early days are always a struggle and the audience won’t just walk up to you. First, do a tiny performance for your friends and family. Even a group of 5-10 people you can call your own would be helpful. Let them hear you and feel you. At the same time, try to identify your own style of performing.
Start Recording Originals
Once you have enough materials, start recording. If you have access to a studio or can afford one, nothing like it. But you could just as well start off with other recorders. Start by recording scratches of your work. Scratches are basically rough drafts of your compositions. They don’t have to be the best and the most refined quality. Just decent enough to start listening to your own music and analyzing it. Share it with your friends and family and get their thoughts on it too.
It’s always good to do a few covers as well. So choose reputed artists that you admire and cover any rap track by them, then record that too. Once you’ve made any necessary changes or edits to your recordings, start publishing them on the web.
There’s Youtube, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram and many other platforms where you can publish your music, while creating your own website too. Start marketing yourself and focus on your Stage name and your music. You will have to learn about the unique ways in which each platform works. That takes time and hard work. So be patient and don’t expect that you’ll break the internet with the very first track you put up. Use the platforms to build a strong network too. You’ll need work!
Start small and keep building. You could focus on just your originals or even take an approach of including some covers. There are several ways or forms in which you can choose places to perform at. Be it at schools, house parties, night clubs, local pubs or just about anywhere, take your chances. Speak to people. Keep expanding your network so that you can make sure your rap reaches the right people. Perform as much as possible, in as different setups as possible. Get your name out there and get yourself some performance experience before levelling up.
The First Album
Now that you’ve spent enough time in the game, find a studio and record a proper album. If you have good equipment and a place with great acoustics to record, then you could record it yourself. So create a list of the tracks, get in touch with someone to do the album art and design work.
The Dream Team
The whole process does involve a lot of money. So if you start making ripples by this point and are getting gigs to sustain yourself, it might be time to find yourself a manager. Someone who plans your gigs, takes care of all the negotiations regarding contracts, record deals and concert bookings. He will also be the one who will help you get signed up with a great record label or even any possible collaborations with other artists.
The dream team would involve a producer, a studio and also a record label, apart from your manager and your publicist. A publicist is somebody who would take care of the network that needs to be created on print media, television, social media, between the artist and the people.
Your team is an essential part of your career because it is through these people that your music reaches people out there in the streets, in different cities, in social media platforms, and of course larger media houses as well.
If you are confident about your music, your creation, then there’s nothing that could possibly stop you from becoming who you want to become. A rapper, with time, constantly evolves and learns, in order to improve as an artist. To remain popular and relevant in the music industry, a rapper needs to also experiment with their art constantly. Be passionate, and create music that means something to you, and music that people would connect to.