When I listen to rap, I use a three part system that takes the lyrics, beat and flow into great consideration.
Flow: an artists flow is important. It is another personal touch that they can use in their music. A rapper’s flow can be fast, choppy, consistent or create a noticeable sonic pattern. This is the least important element, but it can elevate a song to a certain status that makes it a good addition to any rap song. Rappers like Kendrick Lamar and MF DOOM have distinct flows and patterns that they create within their lyrics. If you don’t keep up with the beat or your flow doesn’t work well with it then you can definitely start working against yourself in a song; making it sound horrible.
Lyrics: Rap’s foundation is allll about lyrics. Obviously. However, when I listen to any rap song, this isn’t exactly what can make the song a 10 out of 10 for me. We all know that lyrics can be dumb and senseless, yet the song isn’t yet thrown in the trash. Take for example most trap songs. To make good rap lyrics they have to be clever, funny and be able to tell a story however long or short that story is. If the song was a cake, the lyrics are more the icing on top and make for the second layer of my three part system.
Beat: To me, the beat is the most important part. It is detrimental that the track is well produced or your song will fall flat. This is not always the case though. I’ve heard many rap songs with lower quality production, but stellar lyrics which gives those kinds of songs a certain amateur charisma. I want a beat with bass, a beat that makes me bob my head the entire song, a beat with layers and different sound colors. These kinds of elements make for a sonically engaging piece. The beat is the meat of a rap song, it allows a foundation for the rapper to spit on.
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