Today we're going to look at how to write battle rap lyrics like a pro. You could have top delivery, a good image and some finely tuned stage presence. But if your lyrics aren't up to scratch, all the rest won't matter anywhere near as much; the audience and the judges won't want to hear what you're saying.
To be a top battle rapper, you need to know how to write hard hitting lyrics. Battle rap lyrics aren't the same as general rap lyrics. There are certain things you need to put into effect to make sure you win your battles and make people want to hear more. This is what will move you up the ranks in your respective league, so read on learn how to write battle rap lyrics like a winner!
How To Write A Battle Rap Lyric
Before I go any further, this guide is part of a series on how to battle rap. If you want to do more than just learn how to write battle rap lyrics, this is the guide you'll need to read. It will give you a complete overview on how to become a top battle rapper.
This guide should be used in conjunction with our more general guide on writing good rap lyrics.
Incorporate Personal Things About Your Opponent
First of all, one of the most effective thing you can do is write bars specially for the opponent you're facing. Forget the filler bars which could apply to anyone, rap about things that have happened to the person you're battling with. You could also comment on something that they're wearing or on the way they look.
No other lyrics are as hard hitting as personal ones. No only have they got a much higher chance of knocking them off their game, but if the judges and crowd can see things are true, you'll more likely to get props.
Do your research on the rapper you're battling before hand. Watch their previous battles, you may be able to find a time they looked silly and bring that up in your lyrics. Or another rapper may have already hit a subject about them which you can research and expand on.
Talk to other battle rappers and people who may know them and see if they know anything you can use.
Have they got abnormally sized body features? Mention it, even if you need to exaggerate. As long as there's some truth there people will find it funny and offensive (in a good way).
This is one of the biggest tips I can give you. Use this tip in conjunction with the ones below to get your rap battle lyrics up to scratch.
Predict What Your Opponent Will Say About You And Write Accordingly
So, you've researched your opponent and have all the facts to embarrass them publicly. Chances are though, they've done the same and have some personal lyrics for you. Well, they will do if they're any type of decent battle rapper. It's because of this you should prepare for things they could potentially bring up about your personality.
If there's a subject you know they'll almost 100% talk about, you could dedicate a decent chunk of one of your rounds to it. That said, to ensure you're not bringing things up before they have, be flexible with when you rap that lyric. If they use the subject on their first round, counter it with your lyrics straight after. If however they don't use it till the third verse, save it till then.
Be sure to have enough lyrics written so that if the subject isn't brought up, you don't have to use that specific bar.
This leads nicely to my next point:
Write More Rap Lyrics Than Needed For The Battle (And Be Flexible)
If you're scheduled to have three rounds with another battle emcee, be sure you've written at least 4 rounds worth of lyrics. Or if you want to be safe, five rounds worth.
Not only will this come in handy in the situation I talked about above (you'll have responses to potential lyrics they bring up) but it's always good to be prepared for the unexpected.
I've seen a battle rapper call out their foe to go for another round with them and the event organizers and crowd wanted it to happen. The person who got called out though only had three rounds worth of material at the time so had to pull out of doing the extra. Which is fair enough, if it wasn't contracted you're not obliged to do it.
That said, don't you think the crowd would've appreciated it if they got to see another round of a rapper they enjoy? Don't you think the extra air time would be good for your career? Yes, generally it would.
So always be prepared for changes in the show format, and write enough lyrics to be adaptable.
Don't Stick To The Same Theme Too Long
One mistake I see people make when battle rapping is rinsing out a single theme over all of their rounds. Let's say for example the rapper you're battling is overweight and you write lyrics about that. What you shouldn't do is base all your material around this fact.
Not only does it usually get boring after a while, but even if it doesn't, if the battle is judged that will work against you.
Battles are usually judged by experienced battle rappers. In battle rap circles, butchering a theme is a big no no. You'll get a lot more props as being an all round rapper if you get that material out there for a round (or part of a round), then show your diversity and deliver other lyrics the rest of the time.
Make Sure Your Write With Your Flow In Mind
If you've been rapping for a while you may already know this, but just in case you don't, pay attention. When you write your lyrics, you need to keep the way you spit and flow in mind. If you add too many words into your bars, you're not going to be able to properly emphasize the important and hard hitting punchlines you're got.
You'll want to slow down at certain important parts, giving people the chance to hear what you're saying. Furthermore, after each punchline which gets a reaction, leave a few seconds of silence for what you're said to sink into people's minds. If they're laughing or applauding, don't start the next part of your lyric just yet. Doing so will only cut their reaction short and probably mean they don't hear the beginning of your next bar. Instead, maybe pace up and down, nod your head, stare at your opponent or something similar.
These pauses and changes of speed don't just happen when you're rapping They're written into your rap lyrics before hand and planned as part of your overall show. If you don't write them in, it'll be harder to do them and make things sound like they're flowing properly.
If You've Stronger Bars, Use Them At The Right Time
The last tip I want to give you is about timing. When you write lyrics, chances are one of your rounds are stronger than they others. It's just the way it goes sometimes; you might have a stronger subject which will really put the nail in the coffin.
If this is the case, save this round for the right time. The right time is usually the third round (out of three), but could also potentially be the second if you're got a good reason for it.
The reason the third round is a good place to drop this lyric is because people could be split about who's winning before that. If it's one all and you have a huge hard hitting third round, one better than your other two, you've made a good claim to win the battle at the end. If however you give your strongest bars before and you your third round isn't as good as your previous ones, chances are people will see your third round as weak (even if it would've done well before your biggest round) and decisions could sway against you.
While you'll want to make all your lyrics strong, if it so happens one's better than the rest, use it as above. The timing of when you deliver which lyric is important, so don't overlook this side of things.
If you want to know how to write better battle rap lyrics, the above should help you a lot. While delivery, image and stage presence is important, none of that won't matter if you don't have good lyrics.
So do you have any addition tips for writing better battle rap lyrics? Let us know in the comments.