Slaughtherhouse‘s Crooked I has shared his secrets to writing lyrically complex rhymes and explained why rappers can benefit from using pen and paper.
Crooked emphasized the importance of editing his rhymes.
“When you got a pen and a pad, you can always edit more so than when you’re in a booth actually constructing the things in your mind,” Crooked explained in an interview. “On a piece of paper man, I can rap what I just wrote and say, ‘You know what? I don’t like this line.’ Or, ‘You know what, this would be better.’ Or, ‘I need to take a few words out of this sentence so this rhyme can flow more rhythmic, you think about all that when you’re sitting down. A good emcee thinks about all that when you’re sitting down writing and constructing a song or a verse but when you construct it in your mind, it’s a little harder to edit everything the way you would if you sat down. You can definitely, in my opinion, write more complex lines sitting down because certain thoughts are going to come to you after you’ve already written the verse…” (How To Rap)
West Coast rap veteran Xzibit recently said he always uses paper to write his rhymes.
“Nope when I approach music [it] is totally different then when I used to approach it on my other albums it’s a whole new formula, a whole new format,” X to the Z explained in an interview. “Musically the way I write is the same because sometimes I write with a beat without a beat but I always write it on paper. I’m not one of these new fangled rappers who don’t have to write sh*t down or put it in their BlackBerry, I’m old school. What’s gonna happen in the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame when rappers have to put their BlackBerry’s in because they never wrote stuff down on paper? (laughs) I want lyric sheets.” (All Hip Hop)
The Clipse‘s Pusha T said he also prefers to physically ink his lyrics.
“I have the coolest little writing journal. I love to just blackout in it, and I can’t wait! It’s like everything. I’m just taking on all beats and all types of sh*t and just spilling,” Pusha said about his pen game. “To me, not too many people are good at freestyling. Everyone always talks about how they freestyle lyrics. Freestyling lyrics with no depth is stupid to me. That’s corny. I can do that. I’ve done it, and it’s never as detailed as it could be. Someone like Jay-Z that does that has mastered it. People try to mimic, but they don’t understand, you can mimic the process but you have to master it to have that type of effect. I freestyle melodies. I’ll find a melody by just vibing with a record, but not actual lyrics. That’s a puzzle.” (Artist Direct)
Young Money‘s Drake previously spoke on his process of writing.
“I’ll never forget how nervous I was,” Drake explained in an interview when he freestyled from his BlackBerry phone. “It was such a rookie hip-hop moment — and, obviously, the controversy of me pulling out my phone and rapping off my phone because I just wasn’t prepared. A lot of people don’t know the difference between freestyle or off the top and coming to a radio show knowing you got to go there, so you got verses cued up in your head, whether they be off your upcoming album or verses just that you have laying around. A lot of artists get that preparation time…I’m a writer, man. I appreciate the elements of hip-hop. I appreciate a guy like Common who goes city to city and just spits at the crowd for 10 minutes about everything he sees. I admire talent like that, because that’s just not my creative process.” (MTV)
Check out Crooked I’s interview below: