1. Work on Your Flow: This is so vital, you can have shit lyrics and a dope flow and 9 times out of ten youíll get away with it. Sure there was a time, mainly during the 90ís and 80ís when lyrics were so vital that no matter how smooth your flow was, if the lyrics were butt you would get booed of stage. Yet even though this is the case, the greatest rappers from then had both. Rakim, Biggie, Nas, Big Daddy Kane all wouldnít be as well remembered if they only came with the lyrics and no flow. Yea, I said it, Fight me. Iím not saying forget lyrics all together unless youíre trying to make Young Thug/Uzi vert music than feel free to go ahead and do so, but make sure you donít sacrifice flow either, like ever.
2. Work on Your Lyrics: The next thing to work on of course is your lyrics. Now when I say work on your lyrics, Iím not saying try to be Cannibus and spit me a dictionary every time you rap. When I say work on your lyrics, I mean work on the lyrics that are perfect for you subgenre of Rap. Meaning, if you make music that would be classified as Conscious and lyrical, than you should be reading dictionaries, and other books, and inform yourself properly. If you market yourself to be deep, I expect to be hearing how the government ainít shit, how the people should unite, and how veganism will save the earth, not popping bottles in the club and how you skeeted on a stripperís face last night. Although you can do both, the greatest have done so, see Kanye, Kendrick Lamar, J Cole and more. But I shouldnít be hearing only clubs and bottles if your conscious rapper otherwise youíre not a conscious rapper. The same is true for the latter, if youíre tailoring yourself exlcusively as a party rapper, than I better be hearing bitches, hoes and how you smoke weed and drink every day, not Letís save the world and Kumbaya. Again, nothing wrong with doing both, but donít say youíre like Young Thug and all your music sounds like a Malcom X speech. So once youíve figure out what genre youíre going to do, and what lyrics are appropriate for that genre, learn to master that style and then innovate and create your own style.
3. Study the Competition: Pay attention to your peers, especially the ones that are excelling in the game right now. Study them, what makes them unique, what makes them successful, whatís their backstory. This ties back to the ďA true master of the game, is a student of the game.Ē The parts of the game you will be studying will include the other artists as well. So pay attention to the good ones so you know what to emulate Iím not copy their styles but dig deep and see what skills they have that you could work on, where do they beat you, where do you beat them, and so forth. Remember half of the game is knowing your opponents and allies, so study them carefully.
4. Collaborate: You also have to remember that the game is not just the music, itís the business as well. Take off your hippie hat and stop thinking that itís all about the music and being a businessman is evil. And stop thinking that youíll be able to get by in the music industry based off your musical talent alone. Part of doing business well is working with the right people, and as an artist, part of it is allying yourself, and featuring on other artists that are closely tied to your genre and music. When you feature with other artists, it opens you up to a whole new fanbase that might have otherwise not known who the fuck you were. This happens all the time. Youíre listening to one of your favorite artists and on comes this person youíve never heard before, but you like their verse and since they fuck with the same artists youíre listening to, they must be good. You go on and you find them out and you end up falling in love with them too. Well that can happen to you too, you just have to feature on other artist music, and feature other artists on your music as well, because what I describe up above works both ways.
5. Learn From Others: When featuring with other artists, donít just aim for artists that are on your level. Try to aim for those that are a few steps above, but not so far above that they wonít even see your email asking if you can feature, or have them on a song, because itís not even them checking the email. See when you rap with an artist thatís a few steps above, not only does it expose you to a new fan base, but it raises your respect in the game and pushes you to be better as well, because you have to be able to match up with this artist. The more respect and skills you get in the game, the higher you go, and so does your rate as well, which means more money.
6. Shine on Features: Make sure that when you get on a song with somebody else, that you steal it and make it your song. What I mean by that is to not physically steal someoneís record, thatís pretty hard, and illegal. I mean do so well with your feature that people listen to the song for you. Do to them what Eminem did to Jay z on renegade, what AZ almost did to Nas on Lifeís a Bitch, or what Kendrick did to Big Sean on Control. And also remember killing a track doesnít always mean spitting the hottest 16 you can, sometimes you can murder it with aggression, with flow, with smoothness. Point is, know the track, familiarize yourself with it and bring it what it needs.
7. Experiment: Try out different styles, different ways of your writing. Splice two things that typically donít go together and see if it works. Rap on a beat thatís wayyyyyyyy out there. Rap backwards, I donít know. Point is, donít be afraid to try something new with your songs, because itís in the experimentation that new styles are born and from those new styles, music is pushed forward and money can be made off that too for those capitalists out there who were wondering.
8. Be YOUnique:I know that title is corny, but the truth it expresses isnít. You need to make sure that your voice is your voice and not someone else. Donít go around biting other people, because in the long run youíll just be remembered as someone elseís shadow and thatís no Bueno. I mean sure when you first start off, you may sound similar to someone, thatís normal, but make sure that your career doesnít sound like someone else. Make sure that when your tenth album has been dropped and youíre retiring, that people will say your music sounds like you, not someone else.