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In this article, I’ll be teaching you guys about the importance of breathing exercises when rapping, what sort of exercises you should do and everything else you’ll need to know about having better breath control.
Most hip hop artists don't feel that it's that important and it's fine when you are recording stems in your home studio. Rap breathing exercises really come in to play when you are are performing live.
Think of it... Most live rap performances can be up two hours long. You will need some fitness and learn how to control your performance so you''ll have enough stamina for the full set.
Simple breathing control techniques like, stamina control, knowing when and where to pause in the rap, knowing which songs you can perform more comfortably can seriously help you both when you record and when performing at a live rap event.
Importance of rap breathing and why you should exercise it
There are many important aspects of breathing, both in day to day life and in rapping. There are distinct differences in the two, though, but we’ll get to that later. First, we’ll be learning more about why it’s important to breath during rapping – and not just because it keeps you alive while performing.
It affects your flow and cadence
The more breath you have, the more impactful your voice and delivery will be. Since you have more air inside your lungs, you wouldn’t have to worry about the tone of your voice shifting and the pitch changing in a split second during a recording or even during a live event.
This is an amazing pro if you plan on having longer breaths. The ability to rap faster and without pause will be an added benefit of having great breath control. With this in mind, you’ll have to remember that you’re not invincible and you can run out of breath eventually. Just don’t overdo yourself.
Now that we know about some of the pros of having breath during rapping, I’ll be giving you guys a few tips on what you should and shouldn’t do while exercising your lungs and diaphragm, and what to remember during a live event.
You’ll be able to rap for longer
Think of yourself as a phone, or a car, or anything that needs a battery and or fuel. In this case, you’d be using these things because you need them to live and progress your life continuously, correct?
If, for example, your phone runs out of battery, or your car runs out of gas, or maybe your whole house loses electricity, it would not only hinder your life but it will make things harder. These things need energy, electricity, and whatever else they need to be powered up and be useful in our lives, right?
The same thing goes with us as humans, as rappers, and as living beings. In our profession as rappers, we need to have breath to continue doing our job, rapping in front of a mic when recording or a large crowd during a live event.
In this scenario, you’ll need to remember to keep air inside your lungs without having to resort to deep, heavy breaths that will make the crowd wonder why you’re up on stage if you can’t handle your own song. You wouldn’t want your fans to think that, right?
Know Your Threshold When Performing A Live Event
To do this, be sure to rap as much as possible as practice. You’ll eventually know when your limit is so that you can work on your breath control.
This will help preserve your tone and emotion in the song that you’re currently rapping about. Once the air in your lungs dips to a certain level, you’ll immediately hear a change, more specifically a drop in your vocals.
This is something important to pay attention to if you want to learn more about your lung capacity.
If you don’t want your energy to drop and your fans to start getting bored, always pay attention to the air in your lungs so that you know when to take a breath.
A good note on this is that you should always try and take small breaths during your verses and chorus so that you don’t run out and end up sounding like a grandparent than a bouncy and lively young adult that you really are. Unless that’s what you’ve always been wanting to sound like… but why would you?
Don’t use up too much air when hyping the crowd
Once you learn more about your lung capacity and how long you can go without taking a break, you can then fine tune your lyrics and your whole rap verse to match where you should be taking breaths and small pauses.
Keep in mind that these small pauses or breaks shouldn’t be you taking deep, long, and gasping breaths, but instead you should be able to take small inhales of air so that you basically keep your lungs filled without wasting too much in one go.
This also depends on your rap lyrics. If you end up over writing raps, you also run the risk of using all the air inside your lungs before you finish your song. So look over your lyrics and make a decision if you did write too much and start taking away unnecessary lyrics.
I talk about this repeatedly in my previous articles, so why not go ahead and take a look at those after you’re done with this one?
I’ll be telling you guys a few ways that you use too much air without you even realizing it, a few paragraphs later. You might be falling prey into these habits and don’t even know you’re doing it.
Be subtle and consistent
This is what I mean by taking quick, short breaths. You don’t want your fans to know when you take your breaths, and you of course don’t want to be so obvious that you show them that you’re gasping and wheezing for air after two extremely lengthy and fast verses.
Don’t wait until you’re out of breath to take a breather. Like I mentioned before, you shouldn’t be using up all the air inside you before you finally take more in, but instead, you should be topping it off like you’re filling your gas tank every so often instead of using up all of the contents and ending up pushing your car to the nearest gas station to fill it up.
A weird analogy, but this is basically the same thing. It’s always a good idea to have more air than you think you need because you’ll easily run out of breath without even thinking about it.
Now that you know what to do and what not to do, let’s go on with the rap exercises so that you know what sort of exercises you can do to have better lung capacity and breath control.
Take deep breaths and exhale slowly
This is exactly as simple as it sounds. You’ll want to take a deep breath, and then slowly start exhaling. It will all depend on you and how big your lung capacity is.
I suggest taking in a deep breath and holding it for a few seconds, around five to ten seconds before you slowly exhale.
Make sure to make your mouth as small as possible for the exit to be tiny, because you don’t want to exhale your breath with one big huff of air and waste your time exercising. In this case, it’s best to make your mouth into the shape of an ‘O’ and slowly exhale.
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Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can then start incorporating sounds into your breathing. You can go with vowel sounds so that you can practice your intonation as well as your diaphragm.
You can even go with consonant sounds if that’s where you’re having trouble with, like ‘S’ or being able to roll your ‘R’s, all of this can be done while you do this exercise.
It’s best to do this exercise five to ten times a day if you want to slowly and surely enhance your breathing and lung space.
Spit bars for long periods of times
This might sound weird, but it’s also a good idea to practice spitting your bars in your down time. When doing this, you’ll want to continue practicing your rap verse lines with a single breath and see how far you can go before you need to take another deep breath.
This not only helps you grow your lung space, it also shows you where you should be placing your small pauses in your lyrics so that you can take a short breath without people knowing about it.
It’s going to help you as you write your lyrics as well as show you the importance of taking a small intake of air.
It might sound like a stupid idea, but you can also practice spitting bars while either jogging, or going up and down a flight of stairs.
You’ll quickly run out of breath, yes, but you’re also training your lungs to be able to spit bars while you’re moving around on stage in front of a large crowd. This way, you’ll be able to hype up your fans without having to fall face first into the ground due to lack of oxygen.
Try rapping along to songs with weird breathing locations
There are numerous songs with odd breathing placements, all you need to do is have a little Google Search and you’ll be able to find the ones you want to practice to.
The benefit of this is that you practice taking breaths in parts of the song that you wouldn’t normally think had a space for taking in a small breath of air.
It’s a good way to practice rapping to different songs while still exercising your lungs. A handful of verses require very little effort but a lot more breath than you think it needs because of all the lyrics, those are the kinds of verses in songs that you should be looking for.
After you practice with those sort of songs, then you should go back and practice your own songs so that you know what to do when you need a breath and where to put it. Just make sure that you pace yourself or else you’ll be in trouble.
You’ll be practicing more and more, which is the key note in the last exercise I’ll be telling you guys about.
Of course, this is the most basic exercise I can tell you guys. There’s really no hidden secret sort of way to learning to control your own breath aside from practicing it daily.
The more that you practice songs with weird breathing, spitting out verses while you jog, and even rapping for long periods of time without stop, the better you’ll get at breath control. Every rapper has their own lung capacity, breath control, and how far they can go without stopping, so they write their verse according to it.
There’s no five minute trick or get good quick scheme to getting better than training yourself. So it’s best to go at it slow and steady instead of rushing things, because everything rushed is never perfect or the way we want it to be.
It only takes five to ten minutes to do these exercises every day or every other day so there should be no excuse to not exercising your lungs. All it takes is persistence and patience. Discipline yourself to do this daily or make a goal to do it a few days a week so that you slowly get better.
If you continue doing those exercises or even other exercises that you’ve found online, you’ll eventually get better over time as you train yourself. With that, all that’s left is to tell you guys some of the reasons as to why you’re running out of breath.
Cause of breath loss when rapping for long periods
- Rapping loudly
Maybe you enjoy rapping loudly and are borderline screaming at one point. Do you ever find yourself running out of breath much more quickly than others?
Being louder than necessary in any sort of rap song is going to quickly fizzle you out and leave you gasping for air in the corner of the stage. You wouldn’t want your fans to see that, do you?
The thing you should do here is to focus on rapping and not screaming in people’s faces. Only raise your voice in parts that need more emphasis than others so that you preserve your voice and you preserve your air.
- Using more vowels
Does this sound like a weird thing to include here? Yes. Is it wrong? No. Why? The more vowels you include in your lyrics, the more air comes out of your mouth without you realizing it.
Try pronouncing ‘Hi’ out loud repeatedly and count how many times you can do it. Now try pronouncing ‘Bye’ and count how many times you can say it out loud. You’ll see that you can say the word bye more times than you did while saying hi.
This is because ‘hi’ is basically a vowel sound being said on repeat without anything stopping air flow.
On the other hand, ‘bye’ has a consonant sound and the ‘b’ in the word acts as a sort of restriction to your air flow, keeping more air inside you than more air leaving your body.
- Not knowing when and where to breathe in your rap songs.
I mentioned this before but I’ll mention it again: if you don’t know when and where to breathe during a verse, you’ll end up using all the air in your lungs before taking in a breath to continue rapping your lyrics. This happens when you don’t include any pauses in your verses while you’re in the process of writing those lyrics.
To avoid this, you’ll need to work around your breathing to write your lyrics so that you can have small pauses to take in small inhales. This will make your content written much more smoothly and have your songs sound amazing to your fans.
- Moving too much while rapping quickly
Some people tend to do this during live events. They run around the stage and get the people hyped up while spitting out an incredibly long and intricate rap verse that isn’t meant to be paired with hyperactive movement.
A good example here would be Busta Rhymes and his verse in Chris Brown’s ‘Look at Me Now.’ This verse is extremely lengthy and wordy, and most importantly, extremely rapid in its pace. In this case, he doesn’t move around while doing this because he knows that if he does that, he’ll run out of breath much more quickly.
So follow in his steps and just stand still while rapping that sort of verse and then move around after you’re done.
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