AllHipHop.com has built our over 20 year legacy of preserving Hip-Hop and rap music by listening to the streets, working in conversation with key stake-holders of the culture and offering our readers resources to guide them along this journey.
Whether we are spotlighting the East coast, West Coast, the South or Midwest, there is one thing that keeps the art form growing — the craft of emceeing.
As a platform, we have recently started a series called “15 Things Rappers Need to Know” to help those who desire to hop on a track get busy and have a particular level of longevity.
Or at the very least, spit some fire rhymes with confidence.
The first edition features Danny Myers, a battle rapper from the West Coast, who takes this rapping thing super serious. Here are his top 15 tips that he believes rappers need to know.
1. Be Original
“First thing you need to know is you have to be original. That’s the first thing and that’s the golden rule.”
“It’s important to be original because that is how you stand out. That is how you make yourself visible amongst this vast sea of other emcees that are out here doing it. There’s so many other people that rap. If you ask anybody, nowadays, they mama rap; they baby daddy cousin rap; the person down a street rap. So what do you do to stand out amongst all these people that rap? Especially in battle rap… you can’t come in sounding like Arsonal. The fans are gonna know. You’ll go nowhere fast. You are not gonna go anywhere if people can’t recognize that style.”
2. Be Creative.
“Creativity and originality are like almost the same thing for real, but creativity actually speaks to what you’re doing. You have to make something memorable. You have to say something that people haven’t heard before, or reference something that’s been said or referenced before ever. That is the main goal to keep in the back of your mind, “Did I hear this before? Did somebody say this before? Or did somebody say something similar to this?”
“And if I discovered and somebody said before or similar that just scrap the whole idea and start over.”
3. You Have to Research Your History
“You absolutely have to research and know the history. You have to study the legends.”
4. Understand Your Craft
“You have to know your craft and know what it is you’re doing. You got to understand where the craft actually came from and why people were doing it in the first place. Figure out what they needed to get out of the culture. That would be definitely one of them is just to know your craft. Know what it is you’re doing. Some people just get into the game and just think they could do it. They don’t even really know the what in what they are doing.”
5. You Need to Have Style
“You can say original bars, but if you’re saying it in the same style or format as somebody else … then you are wack. It takes work to develop your own sound? Imagine me rapping my own bars, but I’m saying it the way that someone else is saying it. That just doesn’t work. It’s about being creative in the writing, but in terms of how you do it … that’s the element of style. That’s the main thing that definitely separates from someone else.”
“Originality is how you stand out, creativity is how you write it, and your style is how do you say it.”
6. Know Your Enemy
“This is for battling or creating a diss record. And it is something that I believe didn’t really come into play until like the SMACK DVD era. Back in the day, you just battled random people that you didn’t know. There wasn’t no Internet. There wasn’t no social media. You didn’t know nothing about nobody for the most part. You just went to random blocks and just battled and people would just bet money. That’s how that was.”
“Now in this day and age, it is easy to know your enemy. You can research somebody that you’re getting ready to battle. You can find out something about them— some type of dirt — you can use as an angle. So it will be wise to know who you’re battling and know something about them. So you can then plan your strategy based on what it is they do or don’t do.”
7. Control Your BreathingAdvertisementAdvertisement
“Breath control … I think this is super underrated. Breath control and composure are super important.”
“It doesn’t matter if you got the best bars in the world. If you’re running out of breath at the end of each line. They won’t hit. It’ll lose its effectiveness. Up there on the stage, your words will lose their impact if you can’t deliver them right. I think breath control is one of the highly underrated aspects especially as far as battle rap goes, and even in regular rap. Even in the studio, you definitely need breath control. Some guys are masters at it and some people aren’t as good at it. A lot of these rappers smoke a lot of weed and smoke a lot of cigarettes. They do a lot of drugs and that affects their breath control. They don’t exercise. They’re not working out and you know, they’re just not working on their body in general.”
8. Maintain Composure
“You have to have composure at all times. If somebody says, ‘Yo, I had sex with your mother,’ and you get mad at them … then you lost the battle because. You lost your temper because one of the points of this game is to get under to your opponent’s skin. But composure is not just for battle rap. Composure is important because you have to always be a star. You always want to look like the person that everyone wants to be next to or be like.
9. Exercise is Key
“Exercise is definitely important. When you look at the grand scheme of things personal health speaks to the success of an artist. There weren’t that many successful overweight Hip-Hop artists in history. Of course, you think of Biggie. You think of Big Pun. Heavy D. But all of them struggled as artists because of their size. It is not even about their careers. It is about their lives. Exercising also helps your mindset and once you physically feel better, it also helps you to be able to think better and feel better about yourself in general. And I think that that higher level of vibration and positivity you know it shows in your work.”
“Busta Rhymes was talking about breath control and exercising. He said that when he was coming up with Leaders of the New School, Chuck D from Public Enemy would make them run around the school tracks saying their raps while they were running. So that they would have breath control and keep in shape.”
10. Get That Swag Down
“Believe it or not, fashion is important. It’s your appearance. You got to look the part. You got to look like something. You can’t come in here with a raggedy shirt with a hole in it, some old corduroy pants, and some busted Payless shoes. People aren’t gonna buy into your character. People aren’t going to buy into who you are. You don’t have to wear what everybody else is wearing: just do your own thing. Whatever it is, you have to stand out.”
11. Love and Memorize Your Lyrics
“You should know your lyrics. You can know or do all this other stuff, but as a rapper, if you don’t know your raps … What are you doing? I think that doesn’t only apply to the battle rappers but also in the studio, also when you’re doing a live performance.”
“I don’t fool with people unless they memorize their bars before they go into the studio. I don’t like to punch in all the times. Punching in is a backup just in case. That’s almost like a mark of unprofessionalism. You have to respect your engineer’s time. A good engineer will make your project sound amazing. Like the reason why A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, EPMD and all them that these classic works are because they have classic engineers behind them.”
12. Know How To Be Your Own Marketing Machine
“You gotta know how to market and promote yourself, brand yourself. You got to know what is it that people buy into you when they are supporting you. Why do they buy into a Danny Myer? My fans they think about ‘The Bar God.’ They think about ‘Parallel Universe.’ They think about ‘Yikes.’ I knew how to brand myself. They know me for my rapping and my high energy.”
13. Break Out The Dictionary
“I think that vocabulary is like super underrated. In terms of our profession and what we’re doing, there has to be some sort of mastery of the English language (or whatever language you speak). You need to know words. And you do not need to be a lyrical miracle to be a great rapper. It is how you use the words. Consider Doug E. Fresh, Too Short, E40 all are amazing rappers who use their vocabulary in a creative way.”
“They may have used small words, but they made them make sense. You don’t have to be the lyrical miracle. But if you pull, you know, if you pull the right words together. You can pull off something super simple and when you need to be sophisticated. Just because you got a big vocabulary, don’t mean you’re a good rapper. I think this is about knowing how to use your vocabulary is simple. It is super key in any type of rap career. Rappers have to understand the science of vocabulary. This is a science of it.”
14. Nurture Your Voice Because People Will Know It
“Rappers have to understand their voice and work with producers that work well with your voice. I think honestly, that’s super important. And then ask yourself, ‘Do know who you’re rapping to and know who you’re rapping for?’
“If you’re J. Cole, you got a fanbase that loves what you do. And at the same time, there will be those people that just don’t rock with J. Cole. There are people that rock with Ras Kass and Crooked I, but would not necessarily rock with Young Thug. Knowing who to market your music to if you’re a musician has to be a priority if you want to sell the most units possible. Figure out who is your core audience and focus on them.”
15. Be Mindful of Your Words.
“Words have power, so be mindful of them so that you don’t hurt others. Even though we have freedom of speech and that is important, you can really offend people with your words. Hip-Hop is one of the places where you would hear the most outrageous things. But I think just rappers should be considerate of other people’s feelings. I know that’s probably crazy coming from me, because I haven’t said some outlandish shit to my opponents, but at the same time, I do know that that’s just entertainment. I’m talking about just even in interviews, even when you’re speaking in interviews, or anything. You got to be mindful of the things that you say, because you can get canceled nowadays for saying anything.”
“Hip-Hop is finicky. Just do one thing wrong or say one thing at the wrong place and at the wrong time and you are out of there.”