Arts & Entertainment, Music

Rapping and Rhyme Schemes


Lesson time 07:40 min

Nas explains the concepts of beat, timing, and rhythmic patterns and shares how he challenges himself and breaks a pattern. He also explains how you can experiment with unexpected words and rhymes to make your raps more interesting.

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Topics include: Rhyming Words to Make It Count


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Rapping is the head nod. It's very street. It's like snapping your fingers and bopping your head and speaking in the rhythm of that finger snap and head bop and making words rhyme. I think I first realized that I could put words together and rhyme rap style-- I think I was probably 10 years old, maybe nine. I started to put things together. I would imitate the songs that was out. I would memorize it. And it just became something that stayed in my head. Everyone around me, even ones who wasn't trying to rap, we were all repeating the songs, "Sucker Emcee" by Run-DMC. Next thing you know, you're like, yo, we should try. Maybe we could be a group. Maybe we can do what Run-DMC is doing. I just needed to find my own words. I needed to have something to say. And as a nine-year-old, there wasn't much you could say. You would just talk about things like, I had a show, and everybody went wild in the crowd. I'm number one. I'm the best that's out there. You know? That was as far as it went. You know what I'm saying? There was no shows. I wasn't number one. But to me, I felt it. I believed it. And you have to believe it when you say it. Your rhythmic timing has to be on. And you have to entertain me through the first bar to the last bar till you break into the chorus. I need to be entertained. I need to be taken somewhere. Bars is how you count music. And it's 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4. These are all bars. It depends on how fast or slow the music is. You can write-- you can count how long your verse is through how many bars you use. You construct bars by your timing. You time yourself. You can time yourself and write it to be how many bars you like it to be. I don't have any rules to it. You know what the basics are. It's staying on beat and staying in the bars. I like to go beyond the bars, across the bar line, get there faster than when the bar comes, and not start on the one, and start wherever I want, start where the feeling is at, and create my own timing within the timing of the music. [MUSIC PLAYING] A rhythmic pattern is another way of saying a style. So your rhythmic pattern would be whatever you choose. And you can stay into that pattern. In your bars, you can rap (RAPPING) this, that, this, that, this, this, that, this, or that, or you could chain it to (RAPPING) this and that, and this and that, and this and this, this, that, that. It's the pattern you use. Sometimes you bore people when the pattern is the same thing too long, so you switch up your pattern throughout the rhyme, throughout the verse, to show how many ways you're capable of rapping. Some people can only rap in one style, one rhythmic pattern. But the more you have shows that you are the better emcee. A simple pattern is not many words. It's simple. It's an easygoing rhyme, easy to hear, not fast-paced. Myself, me, I tend to want to say a lot each bar. I'm trying to get a lot of words because I'm excited to say somethi...

About the Instructor

From the landmark album "Illmatic" in 1994 to the Grammy-winning "King’s Disease," Nas has been exposing truth through rhymes and vivid street poetry for more than 25 years. Now he’s sharing his journey, the evolution of Hip-Hop, and a brand-new song with you. Hip-Hop, lyricism, flow—learn how to tap into the power of your own voice and turn your experiences into music with one of rap’s all-time greatest artists.

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Grammy-winning rapper Nas shares his journey through the evolution of Hip-Hop, breaks down some of his biggest hits, and writes a brand-new song.

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