How To Write Rap Punchlines? ᐉ【Video Tips & Examples】

by Dan Hartnett // February 15 //
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In this article, I’ll be teaching you guys what a rap punchline is, if you’re just starting out, how to write rap punchlines, and how to execute it well.

To put it simply, a rap punchline is a witty one line that can be comprised of a bold statement,a timeless law, or just a really witty metaphor.

First, what is a rap punchline and why should you incorporate them into your rap lyrics?

A Rap Punchline is a bold statement . It doesn’t have any sort of filter on it, making it the truth and nothing else. When a punchline consists of this, it usually consists of a person’s opinion on very significant events pertaining to their lives, to political parties in their country, and even disastrous events that already transpired.

People usually think of rap punchlines as lines a comedian would say while they were in a show, usually composing of two-liner jokes. But a punchline in a rap song is very different from what most people would assume.

Timeless laws are the sayings that we always hear in life, from different people we’ve met throughout our life.

They are laws of wisdom that never get old. Phrases like “I keep my friends close but my enemies closer” is a typical law that you’ll hear in every other rap song that you come across. If there are any more that you think would fit into your rap, you could add it in and work around it.

A witty metaphor could also be used when you make rap punchlines. It will need to be very deep and creative if you want any sort of reaction from your fans.

Anything mediocre and you would end up with crickets instead of cheers. When you use a metaphor, it’s typically used in a way that is self-glorifying, making the rapper seem bigger and better than they really are.

Now, since you know what a punchline is, it’s time to learn how to write punchlines for you rap lyrics.

7 Steps to create amazing rap punchlines:

  1. Research what your punchline is going to be about.

You could do this by reading various books, surfing the internet, or even just write up a bunch of metaphors that you find interesting.

There are thousands of amazing wordplay or even just wise words online, so go ahead and “borrow” it and then you can edit it to your style and to make it fit who you are as a person.

  1. Carry out some research for ideas when you’re stuck.

If you can’t find anything in the books, or you’re outside without any internet, just look around you and write the first thing you find that you want to write about. No notebook and pen? Just insert it into the notes in your phone.

A lot of songs are frequently inspired by past events, things that are happening around the person, and even just everyday moments that we go through.

  1. Figure out what sort of bar structure you’re going to use.

    Bar, in music theory, is a measure with four counts. So when rapping, it’s basically a sentence with four counts in it. A typical verse in a rap song will consist of 16 bars

    The term gets thrown around a lot in hip hop, so people will have different opinions on what a bar is. Don’t worry about it, unless you’re in a freestyle rap Battle.

Rappers usually go with the normal -4-4 bar structure, meaning that there should be two rhymes with every fourth beat of the song, or even a -2-4-4 scheme, which means that the second and fourth beat of the first line along with the fourth beat of the next line should rhyme.

  1. Once you know what to write about, write a simple sentence first.

This is where the magic happens. Once you understand what you want to write about, just write down a simple sentence. Don’t worry about if it’s too straight forward or what not, because you’ll be able to edit it in a few seconds.

You could write about anything here. Your dog dying, trying to dis your opponent or anyone in general, or maybe even something that you feel strongly about.

  1. Put it in the bar, and edit it if necessary.

You’ll have to make it fit if you want to be able to use it. If you’re using a rap flow skeleton, it would be best to fill in the blanks with some other words. You’ll eventually need to rephrase it so that it fits into your structure and has better impact.

It will also have to fit the beat of the rap instrumental, if you’ve already chosen one. No one would want to listen to a rap song that’s off beat, right?

  1. Find the second meaning/ rhyme.

Once you’ve finished writing and editing your first line, it’s time to find your second line/ rhyme to match your first one. You can choose to find the rhyme for the first line and go from there, while others choose to find the meaning of the whole punchline then get the rhyme after.

Go with whatever is easier for you and continue from there. Just make sure that it fits well with the first line and it doesn’t get too obscure. You can’t rap about getting famous in the first line and then jump to finding your lover in the second line. It doesn’t match.

  1. Rephrase it to fit the bar and the flow.

After you’ve found the second rhyme/ meaning, you now have to do the same thing that you did to the first line: edit and rephrase. You might want to shorten it, or maybe add more words to make it fit better. Just remember to make sure the meaning connects with the first one and that it flows well.

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So you now have a great punchline written, but you don’t know how to execute it well, right? The delivery is, if not, also one of the most important parts of creating a great punchline. The flow may be good, but the delivery will make your writing amazing.

There are two main methods of executing your punchlines: Build up and one liners.

Build up

This doesn't mean that you just start rapping fast. This is one of the two main methods used when executing punchlines. In this method, there are several lines before the punchline so that when the punchline hits, it connects with the lines before it, giving it extra weight for a heavier impact.

Technically, there’s no rule on how long it could be. It could be as short as one bar to as long as fifteen before it hits.

One Liners

This is another one of the common forms of a punchline that is often used. These kinds of executions don’t use a build up at all. However, they still make a big impact and are highly effective in giving your lyrics the wow factor when executed properly.

Now that you’ve done that, you should have a great punchline written down. If not, there are a few more tips and tricks that can help you make your punchline better and have a stronger impact.

  • How to Use literary devices in your rap punchlines?

This consists of:

Puns: a play on words in which a humorous effect is produced by using words that suggests more meanings than it does.

Metaphors: word or phrase applied to an object or action to which it’s not literally applicable.

Irony: expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

Similes: comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind. Used to make a description more emphatic or vivid.

  • Incorporate different kinds of rhymes

There are numerous kinds of rhymes but I’ll be telling you guys the three major kinds of rhymes that you’ll see in rap songs frequently.

  1. End rhymes

These are the rhymes that you see at the end of every consecutive line. It’s the easiest to do hence why most people would use it, because all you’ll have to focus on is having the words at the end of each line rhyme.

If you have that down, you can then work on the meaning of the lines or the rap verse.

  1. Multi syllable rhymes

This is deemed as the rhyme-to-do or “Holy Grail” of rhymes because instead of thinking of only one word to rhyme, you can focus on the syllables of the words to rhyme. You can make your rap flow better if you intend to use this rhyme style.

  1. Internal rhymes

These are a little harder than the previous two. This rhyme style will focus on the rhymes that appear internally or within the lines instead of appearing at the end of every line like the first two.

This style works well when you learn how to use stretch rhymes and how to enunciate them to have the words rhyme.

  • Make your rap lyrics and delivery stands out by telling a story

What’s the reason behind your rap? Are you telling your fans a story about your past?

Maybe you’re just letting your anger or sadness out. Or are you just trying to go with the flow and are just writing about a flower that you saw, or maybe even something like visiting your parents’ grave.

The most important thing for writing rap lyrics and in turn, your punchline, is to be authentic. If you make up things or are just exaggerating too much, then you’ll lose your credibility and your audience. Write something original and true to your heart.

  • Don’t over use your rhymes
This is more evident with beginners of rap writing. You’ll have to learn to restrict yourself from using too many rhymes. Not everything has to rhyme and sometimes we’re at fault of doing that.

If you end up using multiple rhymes in your writing, your content gets drowned in rhymes and you end up having a nursery rhyme instead of a rap song, essentially losing the effect of your writing.

Remember, that you’ll have to choose the best rhyme, because not everything that rhymes with your first line will fit well with your rhyme scheme.

Write down the rhymes you think of and then choose which one is best to use so that it both sounds amazing and is witty enough to have a big impact.

Never add rhymes for the sake of just rhyming.

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About the Author Dan Hartnett

My aim is to create a songwriters hub of information, my plans will also include information from other songwriters and rap artists on how they create their work and the skills they have acquired over the years in the music industry.

I hope you enjoy the Blog from Dan - The Admin

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