In this article, I’ll be teaching you guys what a punchline is, if you’re just starting out, how to create an amazing punchline, and how to execute it well.
First, what is a rap punchline and why should you have one when
you write rap lyrics?
People usually think of 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 is a punchline.
To put it simply, a punchline is a witty one line that can be comprised of a bold statement, a timeless law, or just a really witty metaphor.
A bold statement is exactly what it 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.
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 than 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 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 and can be, it’s time to learn how to create the punchline.
7 Steps For Creating Amazing Rap Punchlines
- 1Research 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.
Do your research.
- 2Look to other artist's concepts for ideas if 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 on 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.
- 3Once 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 straightforward 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.
- 4Figure out what sort of bar structure you’re going to use.
Bars, 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 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.
- 5Put 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 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 a better impact.
It will also have to fit the hip hop beat if you’ve already chosen one. No one would want to listen to a rap song that’s offbeat, right?
- 6Find 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 rap punchlines 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.
- 7Rephrase 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.
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.
How To Structure Your Punchlines - Rap Lyrical Techniques
There are two main methods of executing your punchlines: Build up and One-liners.
Punchline Build up
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.
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 rap punchlines 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.
Use Literary Devices To Help Deliver Your Rap Punchlines
Literary Devices Consist 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 verse.
2 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.
3 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.
4 Make your lyrics stand 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 lyrics and in turn, your punchline, is to be authentic.
If you makeup things or are just exaggerating too much, then you’ll lose your credibility and your audience. Write something original and true to your heart.
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 for 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 for 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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