I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to rhyme schemes and bar structure.
Welcome to the first of a 2 – possibly 3 – part blog series from ya boi Prim.
Let me start off by saying I have a great love of syllables, internal rhyming patterns and just dope flows in general.
Could be in part due to the fact that I didn’t learn to read until I was 8 years old; or because the first real rap I heard was Eminems’ Slim Shady Lp.
Whatever the case, it doesn’t really matter. The thing that matters is:
Do you have bars?
And probably even more than that:
Do your bars sound good?
Today I’m going to go pretty deep into breaking down my rhyme schemes, bar structure and the impact these 2 key elements have when writing tracks.
I write the lyrics before i have a beat
For me this is the way I know. Some people do it the other way around and write lyrics to the beat. One of the beautiful things about writing tracks is that there are infinite ways to write.
Again what matters is do you have bars and do they sound good?
When I started writing i was SHIT. Absolutely Terrible. I think it took me about 4 years to actually write a verse that stayed on beat. What those years gave me was a solid foundation. I started putting lyrics to beats after about 2 years.
They sounded horrible.
What i learnt though was that my flow needed rhythm. I needed basic rhythm to stay on the beat. The thing that would give me rhythm was a combination of bar structure, rhyme schemes and timing.
Replicate rhyme schemes
As an emcee you have to have an arsenal of skills and weaponry. Most of all you gotta have bars and you gotta have flow.
All the greats are judged by bars and flow.
Biggie, Nas, Eminem, Method Man, Mos Def, Black Thought, Big Pun, Jay Z..the list goes on. They’ve all got bars and they all sound dope.
These artists – and emcees like them – are my idols and major influences. One of my favourite rappers of all-time is Vinnie Paz of Jedi Mind Tricks. Shout outs to Vinnie P.
Along with Eminem, Jedi Mind Tricks was some of the first rap I ever got into. Raw, bar heavy bangers.
Anyway the point – if I have one – is that my idols are dope spitters, so when I really started writing I wanted to sound like them. So i studied the flow.
break it down prim
Ok so let me get back on track. When I start writing a track, the hardest part for me is the beginning bar. Always.
Once i have a starting point, I can build the track up around it. I always have to keep my eyes and ears open for inspiration.
I was in Newtown one day and saw a hipster riding a unicycle. I was like:
There’s a bar here.
Something about a one wheel, one man race. Human race. A one wheel man on a bike..
Eventually it turned into:
I’m in a 3 legged race with a leg and a half
Boom! I started writing a track.
SO from there i can build
I can either try and rhyme every syllable and vowel in the bar – which will give dope flow and cadence – or I can take the last syllables and vowels of the bar and start making internal rhyme schemes while looping the end rhymes (syllables and vowels)
This bar structure will determine my rhyme scheme. In other words the way I structure my bars – or the order of the words/syllables/vowels in my bars – will determine how I can rhyme. This is bar structure and rhyme schemes.
I aim for 10 syllables per bar as a base.
So some of you are probably like what the fuck are you talking about bro. Let me break it down.
freedom in a framework
I’m in a 3 legged race with a leg and a half – 13 syllables
An egg in a glass, its hard with a head up your arse – 13 syllables
So there’s 10ish syllables per bar and the rhyme scheme contains the vowels e and a. The vowels are the rhyming words. Glass and hard in the 2nd bar is an internal rhyme inside the bar with the use of the a. The scheme being egg in the glass and head up your arse (e and a)
The syllables stay the same.
Look if you’re still scratching your head like what the fuck Prim, don’t stress. Just nod and smile.
Let’s go back to the basics of writing a track.
16 bars per verse. 10(ish) syllables per bar.
When the bars are structured this way, the words have their own flow.
Meaning when I choose a beat, the main thing to consider is the tempo.
The verses already Flow. They are not reliant on the beat.
A dope beat makes the words shine though.
I think I’ve nerded out enough for this blog.
Tune in for part 2 when I discuss changing rhyme schemes, writing hooks and the use of vowels with multi-syllable rhyming.