A rapper is a musician who writes and performs rap or hip-hop music. Many musicians become rappers when they can write intricate lyrics and speak or sing very quickly. If you enjoy hip-hop music and have strong performance and writing skills, you might consider a career as a rapper. In this article, we consider what this career path can be like, such as their typical responsibilities, and explore a list of steps for how to become a rapper.
What is a rapper?
A rapper writes and performs rap music, often to highly stylized and rhythmic beats. Rap music typically involves pairing artfully written lyrics with ambient music or sounds to produce emotional or narrative songs. Many rappers specialize in a particular genre of rap, such as hip hop, rap-rock and jazz rap. Rappers most often write their own music, but some rappers in the current music industry may perform raps that other songwriters compose.
What does a rapper do?
Here are a few of the most common responsibilities for a rapper to have:
Writing lyrics to convey emotions or stories
Using poetic devices to achieve auditory effects through their lyrics
Pairing lyrics with background music and sound effects
Producing beats, or electronic instrumental tracks, to use as backing tracks
Performing their raps for live audiences
Recording music to distribute online or at performances
How to become a rapper
Here are some steps you can follow to start your career as a rapper:
1. Learn about different types of music
The first step you can take toward becoming a rapper is to familiarize yourself with a variety of music. This can help you identify styles you enjoy and learn about how to use different elements of music in your rap, such as instruments, sound effects and beats. While many rap artists have special expertise in genres like hip hop and R&B, it can also be beneficial to explore genres like pop, rock and jazz to introduce yourself to various styles.
2. Develop your writing skills
One of the key aspects of being a rapper is the ability to write your own raps. This can require a strong set of writing skills and basic knowledge of poetic devices. For example, many rappers use poetic devices like rhyme, alliteration and meter to add creative elements to their raps that make them sound interesting during performances.
One of the best methods for improving writing skills is to write as often as you can, so try to write every day, or at least a few times per week. You can also share your writing with peers to receive feedback and improve further. This can help you start writing your own raps consistently and allow you to build a portfolio of songs.
3. Record a mixtape or demo
Once you develop your writing skills enough to write a few raps, record yourself performing a few. While most established rappers use music studios to record their albums, you can also record your music on your own using a microphone and a computer. By doing so, you can compile a mixtape, or short collection of songs, that you can share with the public to introduce yourself as a rapper. This can help to build your audience.
4. Market yourself
As rappers may enter the industry with a small fan base or no audience, marketing can be another essential aspect of the career. This is because engaging in marketing can expand the reach of your music and might increase your chances of attracting a bigger audience. There are many ways to market yourself, such as starting a channel on a video-sharing website or building social media profiles on various platforms. You might also upload your music to a streaming platform so you can share links to your music with people quickly.
One unique method of promoting yourself as a rapper is to participate in rap battles. A rap battle is a performance where two rappers engage in a call-and-response that involves improvising rap verses. You can often find opportunities for rap battles online.
5. Make connections in the music industry
After you build an audience by marketing yourself, try to make connections in the music industry. This can often be the final step in becoming a rapper, as knowing certain professionals in the music industry can help you launch your career and enter the mainstream public. For example, if you connect with a music producer who enjoys your music, you might secure a record deal that pays you to record your songs professionally. Then, you can keep writing and producing new music and perform live to continue engaging with your audience.
Skills for a rapper
Here are a few key skills for a rapper:
Knowledge of poetry
Work environment for a rapper
As rappers often work independently to write and produce their music, they typically work in personalized environments, such as their own homes. Many rappers also work in music studios where they can record and produce new songs. Rappers who perform live or go on tours frequently might also travel for work, which can involve long hours and consistently changing environments.
Salary and job outlook for a rapper
While Indeed doesn’t provide salary information specifically for a rapper, they offer data for a musician, which is a very similar job title. The national average salary for a musician in the United States is currently $52,225 per year. Musicians can sometimes earn higher salaries as well, depending on their level of experience and education and where they live. For example, musicians who live in Los Angeles can earn an average of $53,072 per year, and those in Washington, D.C., can earn an average of $62,452 per year.
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t have job outlook data specifically for rappers, they offer data for musicians and singers, which includes rappers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people employed as musicians and singers could increase by 11% from 2020 to 2030. The BLS states that this might result from the growing popularity of digital streaming platforms that allow musicians to share videos of their performances and audio recordings online.