So you wanna be a rapper…
But you don’t know where to start. No worries, you’ve come to the right spot. I got you from the beginning of the process before you’ve written any bars to where people start actually knowing who you are and trynna hear your music. With the internet, it’s possible no matter who you are, as long as you’re willing to grind.
First things first
You gotta have some bars before you can go anywhere. If you don’t think you got bars get some of your dumb ass friends together and start freestyling with them. Just put on a beat and go in. Then you can move on to writing. As you’ll see in that link, you shouldn’t write without a beat, so either start writing over other people’s beats or make your own. Once you wanna record some shit to shop around you should either make your own or buy some beats, but don’t worry about that until later.
Now you actually got some shit you’re working on
But you still aren’t ready to go get a label or to start selling your shit (unless you’re trynna hustle that shit to your friends or at school or the mall or something.) At this point you gotta get two things, and they won’t cost you anything. Get yourself a Soundcloud and get yourself a Twitter. Soundcloud is so people can check out your music for free, and Twitter is so people can get to know you. You bet not just tweet your tracks out though, you gotta be funny and engaging and then you can sneak in that Soundcloud link.
Complete your project
Now is the time to do and finish a mixtape, or even just an EP with a few tracks on it. You want more than a single track for variety (but you can send your single tracks to local radio stations too), but you don’t need a whole discography or anything at this point. Put your shit on Soundcloud and promote it on Twitter. Also send it around to hip hop websites, like this one! If you got a mixtape with artwork and everything, try to get that shit up on Datpiff for more exposure. Even if none of the beats are yours, that’s cool cause you’re still not trynna sell anything, just trying to get your name out there.
Send me your shit, I wanna scope it! email me
Look at what you’ve got
At this point, some time has passed (probably a few months), and you’ve got a few people who know you on Twitter, and you got a few tracks on Soundcloud. Hopefully you got a full mixtape on Soundcloud that you’ve also put on Datpiff, and people are downloading your shit. You haven’t gotten any money yet but that’s cool, exposure is a lot more important nowadays, you’d rather have people know you through free music than sign away to a label too early and not have much exposure or cash.
At this point, I guess you can try to find an agent or a label or something, but you don’t need to and you probably shouldn’t. It’s better that you keep grinding and making your music and getting fans than worrying about the money. If you’re really stressing about the money though, you can deal with that too while keeping your music free with merch and by performing.
Go design some tees and hoodies with your name or lyrics or both on them. These you can also hustle on Twitter. I mean I bought one of my go-to hoodies straight from seeing a picture on Twitter, and it wasn’t a big company or anything. These you can also sell at your performances. Performing is mad good for exposure, but you can also get some money for it. But how do you book performances? Good question.
If you know people who throw house parties, go up and spit some of your recent shit, asking for a little bit of money (if any) and working your way up from there. Otherwise look for places where local bands play music (the local college’s student union, a park) and figure out how to book there. Make business cards for yourself and give them out to people everywhere, including these performances.
At this point you’re well on your way
You got some fans on Twitter, you got some music of your own that you can point people to on Soundcloud or Datpiff, and if you’re brave and went out performing you might even have a little money. Now you can pretty much do whatever you want, because you’ve already worked harder than most people do. Very few people start with all the connections/exposure/talent that they need, but if you stay on your grind and believe that your shit is the good shit, you have as good a chance as anyone.
If you wanna hit that agent or label or whatever, go for it. If you wanna keep releasing music free and making money touring/with merch, do that. If you wanna release your music independently (shoutout to Talib Kweli and kweliclub.com), go for it and keep the profits, just make sure you own all the beats and everything. The point is you’re already working on your rap career, and as long as you grind good things will come.
This concludes how to start: rapping career edition.
Now go out and wherever you are in your plan, work on your shit. Whether that means writing your first rhyme or booking your next performance, go out and do it. If you work hard, it’ll happen for you. And I’m serious, if you are a rapper, send me your shit, I’m trynna hear it! email me.
If you got some more tips for rappers trynna come up, let me know in the comments!