Wattup fam and welcome to the conclusion of the trade secret trilogy: Captivating catchy hooks.
First off just wanna give a big shout out to all the beautiful people rocking with ya boi Prim. Big ups.
I’ve had a lot of fun writing this series. What started out as sharing knowledge on writing bars and spitting lyrics has turned into something of a blueprint for the up and comer. In a way this is my way of giving back to hip hip.
Simple, catchy hooks
Many hip hop artists come to mind when I think of catchy hooks but one that stands out for me is 50 Cent.
Tracks like In da club, Candyshop and P.I.M.P spring to mind; but 50s’ extensive catalogue doesn’t end there. You can basically pick any of 50s songs and one thing they all have in common is simple, catchy hooks.
Let’s look at 50s hook from P.I.M.P
I don’t know what you heard about me
But a bitch can’t get a dollar out of me
No Cadillac, no perms, you can’t see
That I’m a motherfucking P-I-M-P (x2)
Needless to say this hook is catchy af and gets stuck in your head. Big ups 50.
OK so lets break down the syllables.
9 syllables 1st bar
11 in the 2nd bar
9 in the 3rd
11 syllables in the 4th
10 syllables per bar is the rule of thumb and 50 nails it here.
It’s all starting to come together so lets take a minute to recap what we’ve talked about previously and then circle back.
Catchy hooks, lines and the basics
10 syllables per bar
4 bars per scheme (interchangeable)
16 bars per verse
8 bars per hook
Rinse and repeat.
This is the basic structure of a hip hop track.
I personally like tracks with 3 verses. The more bars the better as far as I’m concerned.
Hip hop is a such a personal thing. Music in general for that matter.
Some tracks contain only 2 16s and the song is over in 2-3 minutes. Others like Stan have 4 verses and go for over a whopping 6 minutes!
The thing the tracks have in common though is the basic structure of syllables, bar count and hook length.
keep it simple prim
One thing I find really easy to do when writing lyrics is over complicate my hooks.
I have a few people I run my hooks by for a nod of approval before I incorporate them in my tracks. Shout outs to my proof readers.
One of my homies 24K – aka The Child of Light – is someone I trust to run my hooks by. He will tell me if it’s shit.
The last thing you need is people blowing smoke up your arse telling you everything you write is good OR people trying to drag you down by belittling your bars..you need something in the middle. For me anyway.
Anyway, 24k is a dope lyricist with bars for days. Intricate rhyme patterns and internal rhyming schemes. Shout out to my boi 24K.
One day I was running a possible hook by him and he goes :
‘It’s good but it’s too complex. You gotta keep it simple bro. Hooks have got to be easy for people to sing along to. And they gotta be catchy”
That has always stuck with me and I strive for simplicity when writing hooks. I also think about 50 while I’m in the process.
Look I just wanna say that this series has been awesome to write and I’m grateful for the platform to share it with all you beautiful people.
I just wanna reiterate that the process of writing lyrics is an individual process and different things work for different people. One thing that stays the same though is rhythm, flow and basic song structure.
The most important thing I think I can say is just get in there and have a go. Start writing. You don’t have to show anyone what you’ve written. Just keep writing and it will develop and evolve over time.