How To Rap

Courtesy of Tools of War

“How to Rap is classic in an art that is just coming into a definition of itself. Everyone who wants to go to the next level needs this book, it’s the inside and outside of the trade.”  – Nikki Giovanni: one of the most widely-read poets in America and one of Oprah Winfrey’s twenty-five ‘Living Legends’

HOW TO RAP: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC
by Paul Edwards
Foreword by Kool G Rap

With a foreword by Kool G Rap and interviews with over 100 major MCs, HOW TO RAP: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC guides the reader through the artform of Rap in the words of the artists, giving an inside look behind their creative processes and techniques.

Artists interviewed exclusively for the book include classic MCs and groups such as Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane, Mobb Deep, AZ, Jurassic 5, Cypress Hill, Pharoahe Monch, Boot Camp Clik, Masta Ace, and A Tribe Called Quest, as well as more recent artists such as Clipse, Styles P, The Black Eyed Peas, Crooked I, Immortal Technique, Royce Da 5’9″, Papoose and Nelly.

HOW TO RAP breaks MC’ing down into content, flow, writing, and delivery with topics such as writing in your head, punching-in vocals, and interacting with the crowd all tackled from different angles by numerous pros.

The book also features the first complete breakdown of “flow”, allowing readers to create tongue-twisting compound rhyme styles like Kool G Rap and Eminem, complex conversational flows like Nas, Jay-Z, and OC, the classic true school patterns of Melle Mel, and everything in between.

Available at all fine bookstores and from

For more info on the book, visit

  “A complete guide to the art and craft of the MC, anyone who’s serious about becoming a rapper should read this first. Proof positive that rap is more than just talking over music – a vital and vibrant expose of a much misunderstood art form.” – Hip Hop Connection

HOW TO RAP: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC
by Paul Edwards
Foreword by Kool G Rap
Part I: Content
Content Topics: Real-Life, Fictional, Controversial, Conscious, Club/Party
Content Forms: Braggadocio/Battling, Conceptual, Story, Abstract, Humorous
Content Tools: Imagery, Similes, Metaphors, & Analogies, Slang, Vocabulary, Wordplay, Punch Lines
Part II: Flow
How Flow Works: The Flow Diagram, Beats and Bars, Syllables & Stressed Syllables, Fitting the Lyrics to the Beat, Rests, Overlapping Bars, How Is the Flow Diagram Useful?, More Examples
Rhyme: Perfect Rhyme, Assonance, Alliteration & Consonance, Compound Rhymes, Coming Up with Rhymes
Rhyme Schemes: Types of Rhyme Scheme, Extra Rhymes, Number of Rhymes in a Bar, Rhyme Placement
Rhythm: Coming Up with Rhythms, The Pattern Diagram, Patterns of Rhythms, Rests
Part III: Writing
The Writing Process: Research, Ways of Writing Lyrics, Places to Write, Times to Write, How Long Does It Take?, Writing in One Go or in Pieces, Keeping or Changing the Process
Beats and Freestyling: Writing with or without the Beat, Picking Beats, Rapping & Producing, Freestyling
Structuring, Editing, & Selecting Lyrics: Song Structure, Editing Lyrics, Selecting Which Lyrics to Use, Archives, Selecting Singles
Writing with Other People: Writing in a Group, Guest Verses & Other Short-Term Collaborations, Ghostwriting, Producer Writing Input
Part IV: Delivery
Vocal Techniques: Breath Control, Enunciation, Vocal Style, Taking Care of Your Voice
In the Studio: Reading or Memorizing the Lyrics, Practicing the Vocals, Deciding Where to Breathe, Guide Vocals, Recording over Several Takes or in One Take, Number of Takes, Doubling Up & Ad-Libs, Further Editing the Lyrics, Producer Vocal Direction
Performing Live: Confidence & Showmanship, Using the Mic & PA System, Rocking the Crowd, Being Spontaneous, Improvising & Freestyling, Adding Something Extra, Working with a Hype Man, DJ, or Group, Learning from Other Artists’ Performances, Rehearsing
Final Words
Interviewed Artists
“How to Rap marks a cultural coming-of-age for Hip-Hop the first comprehensive poetics of this new literary form.” – Dana Gioia, US poet & former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

MCs Interviewed: Clipse, Public Enemy, Black Eyed Peas, Kool G Rap, Nelly, Big Daddy Kane, Mobb Deep, Cypress Hill, Twista, A Tribe Called Quest, D-Block/The LOX, David Banner, Pharoahe Monch, AZ, Jurassic 5, The Pharcyde, Black Moon, Masta Ace, Del The Funky Homosapien, DJ Quik, E-40, Immortal Technique, N.O.R.E. Royce Da 5’9″, Schoolly D, Remy Ma, Shock G, Slum Village, X-Clan, Dilated Peoples, Aesop Rock, Das EFX, C-Murder, Cappadonna, Brand Nubian, Lady Of Rage, Arrested Development, Souls Of Mischief,Onyx,Devin The Dude,MC Shan, Killah Priest,Rah Digga, Tha Alkaholiks, Heltah Skeltah,Poor Righteous Teachers,Smif N Wessun, Little Brother, Cormega, Blackalicious, Crooked I, Gorilla Zoe, Joell Ortiz, MC Serch, Freestyle Fellowship, O.C., Paris, Papoose, RBX, Ill Bill, K-Os, R.A. The Rugged Man, Tech N9ne, Cannibal Ox, Jedi Mind Tricks, Yukmouth, Zion I, People Under The Stairs, Bishop Lamont, Brother Ali, Cage, El Da Sensei, 7L & Esoteric, Mr Lif, MURS, Wordsworth, Guerilla Black, Termanology,40 Cal, Big Noyd, Glasses Malone, Hell Rell, Lateef, AMG, Planet Asia, Spider Loc, The Federation, Stat Quo, Cashis, Bobby Creekwater, One Be Lo, Pigeon John, Wildchild, Omar Cruz, Lifesavas, Rampage, 2Mex, Ugly Duckling, Akir, Mighty Casey

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