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Rap punchline construction

Updated on September 15, 2015

Making a battle rap punchline:

Punchlines in battle rap are a set of bars with the last one having the most impact. They are a bit difficult to create but with practice, you'll be a punchline genius.

A punchline first and foremost has a set up. The set up is made of the bars leading to the punchline.

The set up:

The mistake rappers make is they're too focused on delivering the punchline and rush their set-up. The result is a few set of forced bars that is lower in quality than the final bar. Your punchline will not make much of an impact than if your set-up is poorly made. What should every set-up have? Anticipation. As an audience, we should be eagerly trying to predict what your going to say next. Forget the filler bars, instead choose high quality words in every line.

One notable example of a punchline is Fresco vs. Kid Twist. Fresco's set up points out Kid Twist's losing streak then transitions to the punchline.

“Five losses in a row and suffer any other rapper

You don't make money or music so i guess it doesn't matter!”

Uno Lavoz is known for his jokes in punchlines.
Uno Lavoz is known for his jokes in punchlines.

Elements of a punchline:

Punchlines can have several things 1) A bold statement 2) A joke 3) A timeless law of wisdom 4) A metaphor.

1) A bold statement – A notable example is "What used to be hot is what an emcee said, now hip hop don't respect you unless your platinum or dead" by Rass Kass. Bold statements are straight to the point and have some truth to them. In battle rap, it's a good idea to observe a certain flaw in your opponent then make a statement on reality. For example, you may want to make a bold statement on why their bars on guns are below average. Don't sweat it, just spit raw energy.

2) A joke – Punchlines can be extremely humorous. The trick is to be a natural comedian, building up to the climax of a joke. Some battle rappers exaggerate their opponent's physical features or rapping to enhance the punchline. Others love to use clever similes, metaphors, or Wordplay to create impact. Figure out what works best for you.

3) A timeless law of wisdom - “You reap what you sow” is an example of a timeless law of wisdom. Timeless laws of wisdom should be used as a true statement dissing your opponent. For example, i've battled a 13 year old kid who knew i had a problem with a girl i liked. I knew he would probably use that in a battle so i did my research. I came up with the following (names have been changed to protect identity):

“I made mistakes with Lucy, but learned from em, i got love charted

Because nice guys finish last and my boy you haven't even started!

It was a hard hitting diss because of it's truthfulness, using a proverb for a freshly new meaning. As a man, i've had more experience with woman compared to a 13 year old hitting puberty.

4) A metaphor - A metaphor incorporated into your raps shows skills as a lyricist. An example of this could be "It's hard for a tree to grow/When father figures leave" written by Common. A metaphor simply a comparison made without the words like or as.

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Do your research:

The more you know about your opponent, the higher the quality of your punchlines. However simply knowing your enemy isn't enough. Your skills depend on how well you use words as a poetic artist. Before you do anything, you must research your opponent. Go online and surf the web for their Social Media networks via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo. etc. Take note of everything about them enough to where you can make a few punchlines. Next is researching to gain inspiration. Idioms, phrases, proverbs, symbols, movies, shows, current events, are all sources of ideas for your punchlines.

Keep practicing:

Punchlines take alot of practice to perfect. The more energy you can muster up, the better your punchlines will be. Discipline yourself to create tension in the set-up until your punchline lands a devastating impact on your opponent.

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      Miran Shuleta 2 years ago

      This is where most rappers these days fail in delivering punchlines of true quality. Rap has become filled with mediocrity with rappers like French Montana, Chief Keef, Birdman somehow becoming popular for delivering absolute crap.

      Kendrick Lamar, Hopsin, ASAP Rocky, J Cole, Future, Childish Gambino and Lowkey right now are holding the bar high, Lamar and Hopsin being personal favourites, great hub.