Advanced Flow & Delivery for MCs

How to Rap 2: Advanced Flow and Delivery Techniques by Paul Edwards

This isn’t a manual on how to rap. I don’t think a book can really teach you how to craft great hip-hop songs. But studying the work of talented emcees is definitely a good place to start. There are plenty of ways to do this; listen closely to songs, analyze lyrics, look closely at interviews, and read books.

I like the way this book covers a variety of topics and uses interview clips from some great emcees to illustrate each one. It covers vocal percussion, tone of voice, adjusting your pitch, stretching and shortening sounds, using repetition, and much more.

I always take notes when I read. Here are some of the passages I highlighted with my note on the topics covered.

Del the Funky Homosapien

1) The live show is key

It’s more important than having good records—performances [are] the main way to “glorify your paper route,” as my dude E-40 would say. If you can’t come off as good or hopefully better live, you won’t make it for too long. It seems like you fake or something if you sound good on record with Autotune and all of that, but on stage you sing horrible. You know? It just seems like it’s only for the record and the money when it’s like that.

2) Using your voice

With that song [“Time Is Too Expensive,” going back and forth with my own voice], I did a lot of work. Matt Kelley, actually, the engineer, helped me do a lot of stuff on that song, so I gotta give some shout outs to Matt Kelley, who taught me a lot about recording, just watching him or asking questions—he’s an excellent engineer. He made a lot of suggestions, he recorded all the vocals, he knew how to get what I was talking about, in the studio. And that’s what an engineer needs to be able to do, so really it was the engineer’s magic that made it happen, because I just had the idea, but I didn’t quite know how to do it. Matt Kelley was the one that knew how to get the sound that was in my head onto tape and how to do it quickly. So it took a little bit of razzle-dazzle, the studio magic, to make it happen. You gotta kind of know your way around the studio to make it happen.

Vinnie Paz, Jedi Mind Tricks

1) Improving Through Recording

I think that the way that you hone your skills is to [record]. Stoupe and I were making tapes and recording songs for years before we’d even let people hear them, and that’s how you get better, you have to record. I know people who are really dope and then they get into a studio and sound like shit. So I think you need to record, even if it’s on a shitty mic or other people’s beats. That’s how you get better

Brother Ali

1) Learn from the greats

I think that a lot of MCs are cheating themselves by not tapping into this great legacy of music that we have, that we’re a part of. If you feel a kinship to what came before in hip- hop or feel like that’s where we’re getting what we’re doing now, and feel a connection to it, then it’s kind of a platform you stand on, and it strengthens you as an artist. To say, “All these things came before me and they’re making me who I am and I have the power of all of that behind what I’m saying,” it can really strengthen you. I feel like a lot of people don’t have that, and they kind of pop out of the woodwork and they’re not connected to anything and you can hear it

The Verdict

This is a fun read that can help you see how some of your favourite emcees use certain techniques in their records. It can open your eyes to things you might not have thought about trying before.

So, study up, and step up your rap game. And don’t stop with this book. Keep learning every way that you can.

My List of 2020 Reads – my annual reading (b)log