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How to improve battle rap lyrics

Updated on January 24, 2016

I will give a few tips and exercises on how to improve your lyrics in battle rap. I will cover the technical aspects of using end-rhymes, internal rhymes, slant rhymes, multis, wordplay, and other literary devices.


* Do your research – Pick up a dictionary and start learning new words. Get involved with the media and expand your knowledge reading books. Listen to alot of rap and watch battles. The more you know, the more you can use in your battle lyrics.

* Master different literary devices – Read about alliteration, wordplay, consonance, assonance, paradoxes, similes, metaphors, and so forth. The more you understand about poetry, the more advanced of a rapper you'll be.

* Be creative – Write down any ideas you have whether they're idioms or otherwise. Concentrate on expressing ideas about a person's weaknesses and mistakes rather than struggling to rhyme.

Types of rhyme:

1. End-rhymes - End rhymes are words that rhyme at the end of a verse. Alot of people think of two words rhyming with each other and use filler words just to use end-rhymes. The mistake is that your verses aren't going to be as powerful as they should be. Every word counts so there should be a “build-up” leading to the end-rhymes.

2. Internal rhymes – If you want to be more advanced, use internal rhymes which are rhymes within verses in addition to end-rhymes.

3. Slant rhymes – Slant rhymes are rhymes that don't exactly rhyme. This is acceptable depending on how well you pronounce them.

4. Multi-syllable rhymes – End rhymes that have more than one syllable are called multis. Examples include words like “Tucan” and “two can.” Practice ending your bars with two syllables first.

5. Wordplay – Wordplay is probably the most challenging. Wordplay is including words with a double meaning. It's basically playing with the meaning of words. Here's a few examples:

Donnie Menace vs. Fatz

“Call this a Donnie exercise cuz i'm about to burn Fatz!”

Let's break it down. Exercise can refer to a physical work-out or a very easy battle to win. He referred to the rapper Fatz but also to fats as in burning calories.

Another example is Donnie Menace vs. Grinda

“You just a-head of yo time..”

A head of your time can refer to a) his head being recognized for it's size b) Him being too old to rap.

Context is key in wordplay so if your bars aren't structured for a double-meaning, your audience won't get the punchline.

Drake at KOTD.
Drake at KOTD.


* Practice free-styling – Write down words or rap outloud to get ideas flowing.

* Lyrical exercise #1

Pick one word and write/say words that rhyme with it (ex. Cat, bat, fat, etc.) until you run out of ideas. Pick another word and do the same process.

* Lyrical exercise #2

Think of a common idiom like “we're on the same page” or “kill two birds with one stone” then try to write at least a bar or two where you can improve your Wordplay.

* Lyrical exercise #3

Make observations of everything around you. Pick one object you want to focus on and practice using similes or metaphors to describe it. “This article is as interesting as _____.”

Other literary devices:

Alliteration – Words with the first letter having the same consonant.

Assonance – Repetition of vowel sounds without repeating consonants.

Personification – Giving inanimate objects human characteristics.

Oxymoron – A contradictory phrase such as old news and hateful love.

What was your favorite battle?

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Once you've grasped the concept of structure, you are one step closer to spitting the craziest lyrics. Don't feel that you need to copy what other people are rapping about, simply stay true to yourself. Eventually, you will come up with lyrics that everyone will be talking about.


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