How to Write a Rap Verse

Three Methods:Forming your VerseWriting Your VerseSample Rap Songs

While rap songs are made up of many parts, the verse is by far the most important. This is where a rapper shows off their skills, intellect, and rhyming ability, and develops the ideas of the song in depth. No matter what your topic, passion, or style, writing rap verses is an incredible method of artistic expression, as long as you keep a few tips in mind.

Method 1
Forming your Verse

  1. Image titled Write a Rap Verse Step 1
    Listen to the great rappers for inspiration. Rap is, at its core, a form of poetry placed over a beat or instrumental track. Just like a burgeoning writer needs to study the great poets, a hopeful rapper needs to listen to the great rappers to learn from the best. It helps to read along with the lyrics as well to pick up on meaning. Listen to what you enjoy, but a small selection of verses to start with includes:
    • AZ's, first verse on "Life's a B---", on Nas's album Illmatic
    • Notorious B.I.G, "Notorious Thugs."
    • Black Thought, "75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction), on The Root's Rising Down.
    • Rakim on "As the Rhyme Goes On," on Paid in Full.
    • Kendrick Lamar, "Backstreet Freestyle"
    • Lupe Fiasco, "Murals"
    • Eminem, "Lose Yourself"
  2. Image titled Write a Rap Verse Step 2
    Get to know your beat well. If you are rapping over a pre-written beat, whether because you love the beat or because you were asked to collaborate with another musician, listen to the beat 4-5 times to get used to the rhythm. Get a feel for the speed and energy of the song as well as the mood.
    • Uptempo songs (Das Racist, "People are Strange") usually require fast verses with lots of words, while slower beats (50 Cent, "P.I.M.P.") usually have laid back verses. This rule is not hard and fast, however (see Twista on "Slow Jamz," for example).
    • Your verse should fit the mood of the song whenever possible. On A$AP Rocky's "One Train" for example, the beat is moody, dark, and cinematic. Accordingly, all 5 rappers with a verse talk about their struggle from poor, difficult neighborhoods to international superstar.
  3. Image titled Write a Rap Verse Step 3
    Find a story or idea to hold the verse together. While talented rappers can touch on many topics within just a few lines, all great verses have a central idea or theme that forms the backbone of the lines. Often, this idea is as simple as "I am the best rapper alive," but many verses tell stories (2nd verse of Kanye West's "Golddigger"), explore social issues (Killer Mike's verses on "Reagan"), or simply muse on a question or theme (Mos Def using numbers on "Mathematics").
    • You do not need to stick completely to this backbone, but it will help you come up with ideas and keep your verse cohesive.
    • If you are supplying a verse to another artist, talk to them about the themes of the song.
  4. Image titled Write a Rap Verse Step 4
    Determine how long your verse should be. Most rap verses have 16 bars, which generally means you have 2 rhymes per bar (length of each verse Cruel Summer's "The Morning") If you are collaborating with someone, be sure to ask how many bars they want. At minimum, most rappers fit 2 rhyming lines in one line -- "I treat the label like money from my shows / G.O.O.D. woulda been God except I added more Os" is equal to one bar.
    • A bar is a measure of beats. Every time you count "1, 2, 3 , 4," you've counted out 1 bar.

Method 2
Writing Your Verse

  1. Image titled Write a Rap Verse Step 5
    Begin by free-writing lines about your topic. Using your topic as a launching point, start writing out lines of your thoughts, trying to rhyme the last words in each line. Once you've exhausted a set of rhymes, start another one and write lines until you run out of ideas. Explore ideas around your topic until you find the ones you enjoy or know best.
    • Don't worry just yet about making your lines perfect -- this first stage is used to create material to build your verse out of.
  2. Image titled Write a Rap Verse Step 6
    Build a rhyme scheme around your favorite lines. A rhyme scheme is a pattern that give your verse structure -- think of it as a blueprint of which lines need to rhyme with which. If, for example, you rhyme the first two lines with the word "me," then the next two lines rhyme with the word "you," then you have rhyming couplets, or sets of two (couples). For the rest of the verse, you would usually use couplets in all of your rhymes (hear MF Doom's "Beef Rap").
    • Most rappers have mixed rhyme schemes, rhyming 2-3 lines together right before a longer string of 4-5 lines (Nas, "NY State of Mind").
    • Don't feel beholden or trapped by a rhyme scheme -- use it instead to help you build your verse.
  3. Image titled Write a Rap Verse Step 7
    Add metaphors, symbolism, internal rhyme, and poetic language to make your lines pop. The best rappers know how to use poetic language and techniques that are centuries old, giving their words power and rhythm that many genres ignore. Some good ideas to start with include:
    • Alliteration/Assonance: Words with similar sounds that are placed close together, like "Two tip-top teacher" or "apple attitudes." Listen to Joey Bada$$'s "Waves."
    • Internal Rhyme: Rhyming words that do not come at the end of a line but in the middle of it. For example, Madvillain's "Rhinestone Cowboy:" "Made of fine chrome alloy / find him on the grind he's a rhinestone cowboy"
    • Simile/Metaphor: Closely connected, this is when writers compare two objects that aren't usually alike to make a point or joke -- listen to any Lil' Wayne song to hear verses composed almost entirely out of similes and metaphors.
    • Refrain: A line that is repeated at various points for emphasis. For a master class in how to use a refrain, see Kendrick Lamar's "The Blacker the Berry."
    • Anaphora: When the first half of a line repeats, but the rest of the line changes, like in Eminem's "If I Had" where ever line begins with "Tired of...."
  4. Image titled Write a Rap Verse Step 8
    Start with a powerful line or hook. The first lines of your verse should introduce the verse and capture the listener's attention. Ask a question (Kendrick Lamar, "The Blacker the Berry"), make an interesting metaphor (Tyler, the Creator, "Yonkers") , or blow the listener away with deft wordplay (Outkast "The Way You Move") -- anything to introduce yourself and make yourself stand out.
  5. Image titled Write a Rap Verse Step 9
    Develop a flow, or rhythm, to your rap. Once you've got your words on the page, you need to figure out how to say them. Flow is how a rapper delivers his/her lyrics in along with the beat. Listen again to the beat you are rapping over and practice fitting your lyrics to it. Are their any words that deserve special emphasis? Should you sound angry and fast or calm and deliberate? Your goal is to sound natural, as if the lyrics were coming from your spontaneously.
    • Listen again to A$AP Rocky's "One Train," where five unique rappers have verses over the same beat. Note how each one approaches the song differently: some urgent, some joyful, some angry, some contemplative.
    • If you know about poetic meter, a traditional rhythm for poetry, you can use these to help design your flow. Eminem famously used Shakespearean meter for his verses on "Lose Yourself."
  6. Image titled Write a Rap Verse Step 10
    Rewrite your verse to fit the beat. As you practice your flow, don't be afraid to go back and rewrite your verse so that it fits the beat better. If you are having trouble fitting all the words in, find a way to shorten your lines. Once you know what the chorus is, or what other rappers are talking about, you can adjust your lyrics to fit the song better, like Lupe Fiasco's verse ending on "Touch the Sky:" "Now let me end my verse right where the horns are like [horn section blasts in.]"

Sample Rap Songs

Sample Rap Song About Money

Sample Rap Song

Sample Rap Lyrics


  • Make sure you stay on topic. If you stray too far from it, you might come off as a bad rapper, or at least a bad verse writer.
  • Keep writing new verses as often as you can - the greats are great because they practiced often.


  • Never steal bars or rhymes from other rappers - there is no faster way to shame in the hip-hop community.
  • Don't lie or you risk being called a poser, fake, lame, and just plain bad.

Article Info

Categories: Songs and Song Writing