Breathing in rap is important and I know many of you may be thinking that it’s pretty obvious to breathe while rapping but there’s more to it than simply just breathing. Rappers at the beginning of their careers tend to run out of air too quickly and end up gasping for breath before their verse is even finished.
Breathing control is key to delivering quality content and it makes for a better rapper.
In this article we’ll discuss why breathing in rap is important, what is causing you to run out of breath, followed by techniques and ways to rap better without losing your breath.
Yes! Breathing in rap is paramount especially during live performances. You need to be able to build up your stamina and lung capacity. It’s what separates amateurs and professionals. You don’t want to start mumbling and fumbling through your verses because you’re out of breath.
Running out of breath will influence your entire rap delivery, energy, and tone of your rap vocals. It’s fundamental to your overall sound.
Let’s take a look at three major reasons why breath is essential in rap.
All rappers want to make an impact. You want your audience to be engaged and truly ‘feel’ your rap. The more you breathe and the more air you have, the more impact your rap and delivery will have.
When your lungs are full of air, you won’t have to worry about your vocal quality and pitch taking a sudden dip during a performance. Once you’ve created a pattern for your breaths, you can control your flow and speed, and deliver quality content.
This is crucial during a live performance. Think about it, you may end up on stage rapping for two hours at a time, you’re gonna need to be able to rap for longer. You may also need to be able to rap long verses during recording sessions. This can cause some rappers to lose breath mid-verse, which ultimately jeopardizes their rap delivery.
When you plan your breaths and control them, you can rap for a longer period of time, and the best thing is you won’t sacrifice the essence or sound of your vocals.
Often, when people think about breath control they think about singers who hit those high notes, however, it’s just as important in hip-hop. Rappers need that power behind their voice to hit those notes and emphasize their lyrics, without losing their breath.
Breath control is all about using your diaphragm to fill your lungs up with air and then slowly release it. You should try out some exercises such as taking a deep breath and then exhaling slowly, to open up your diaphragm.
Once you master controlling your breathing, you’ll develop your vocal range, quality of your tone, and ability to hold on to notes. This is major when rapping faster.
In the beginning, rappers tend to overload their bars and try rap as fast as they can because they think it means they’re being aggressive and ‘rapping better’. They’re unsure of their limits, which causes them to sound amateurish and reduces the quality of their rap. Rapping fast isn’t the most important thing, it’s also about how you sound.
Your threshold is your limit and knowing it comes with practice. Once you have this nailed down then you can preserve your tone and emotion in a song. You can tell when you’ve reached your limit by paying attention to your vocals as it’ll dip to a certain level. Keep an eye out for this dip to learn more about your lung capacity.
Rappers exude energy by moving around the stage and hyping up their fans during a live performance. Hyperactive movement and long verses don’t mix, as you’ll end up out of breath. When rapping a lengthy verse, reduce your movement, and let the beat and lyrics speak for themselves.
You’ll end up running out of breath in the middle of a verse if you don’t know when to take a breath. You need to breathe before all the air has run out. When you don’t plan your breaths you’ll end up using all the air in your lungs causing you to take in deep breaths in the middle of a bar just to finish the song.
Later on, we’ll discuss exactly how to pre-write your breaths into your rap song.
Rapping loudly is a great way to inject some life and energy into your rap but the louder you are, the sooner you’ll be running out of breath. Your voice will fizzle out when you try to rap too loudly and fast.
Preserve your energy by only increasing your volume in parts of a verse that need more energy and emphasis.
Breathing techniques will assist you when you have to breathe while rapping. The following techniques will ensure that your rap voice consistently sounds good and doesn’t take a dip in energy or emotion.
Have you ever noticed that in certain parts of your rap verse you end up running out of breath? This could be because there are too many vowel sounds in the verse.
Vowel sounds cause a lot more air to be released than a consonant because nothing is restricting the airflow in your mouth. So, the more vowels you use, the faster you’ll run out of breath.
When writing your rap song, keep in mind not to use too many vowel-heavy words in one verse.
Maintaining good posture is beneficial for your vocals and ensures that you’re breathing efficiently. If you’re rapping while sitting down then make sure you’re up straight. When you’re hunched over you’ll end up pushing air out of your lungs faster due to the pressure from your body weight. The same is true when you’re leaning over on stage towards the crowd.
You need to have your breath written into the song, this includes planning how many breaths and when to breathe.
Breathing after you’ve run out of breath is a rookie error that some rappers make. Once you’ve run out of breath it’s too late because your vocal quality has already been compromised.
You need to plan to take shallow quick breaths throughout the rap song. Typically, you should take a single breath at least once every other bar on the 8th note.
We previously mentioned that you should take a breath after every other bar. You need to take a quick, low breath just after the second snare and right before the next bar begins.
Remember that if your flow changes, where you take a breath will also change.
A common question asked by many beginner rappers is, ‘How do I rap fast without running out of breath?’ The ability to rap fast verses is key for a rapper who’s looking to make an impact in the rap world.
There are a few ways to rap quickly and develop this skill, but first, let’s take a quick look at the peak of fast raps.
The record holder as the fastest rapper is cherished by many rap lovers; Eminem.
Eminem doesn’t just rap fast, he spits out bars insanely fast. He currently holds the world record for rapping the fastest in Godzilla (2020). He raps 948 words in 244 seconds, meaning he rapped 3.88 words a second. In his third verse, he rapped 224 words in a mere 31 seconds, making it an incredible 7.23 words per second.
There’s no doubt about it; Eminem is a master at spitting out a killer fast rap verse, however, it’s not exactly how it appears to be. Eminem looks as though he’s not even breathing when he raps fast, but this is more of an illusion. He, like many others in the music business, is punching in.
Punching in is a recording technique that allows a rapper to record his/her verses or hooks in smaller sections. They then perfect these verses in the studio. This technique makes many songs sound perfect, and it preserves the rapper’s voice. Basically, it allows for vocal composition, this is when the best pieces of multiple recordings are put into one awesome-sounding track.
Rapping quicker while staying on top of each note and lyric takes some practice and some more practice. Fast rappers can skillfully rap a verse quickly, which adds some contrast to their song.
You can boost your ability to rap faster by planning your breaths, memorizing the rap lyrics, and practicing rapping at a faster pace.
You need your lungs to be topped up with some air throughout the rap song, just like you would put some gas in your tank. You wouldn’t wait for your car to break down before you get some gas. The same concept should be applied to your breathing.
When rapping quickly, you’ll run of breath faster. To combat this, take small, shallow breaths often during the verses. You’ll be able to put in that energy, speed and hit each note.
Rappers sometimes trip over their lyrics and end up rapping slower when they forget the words for a verse. Memorizing the lyrics is vital when trying to rap quicker. The bars have to be ingrained into your mind, as you can’t afford to rap the wrong words in front of a crowd.
A great way to stop forgetting lyrics and remember the words is by reading over them and practice rapping the verses out loud. You then slowly practice a few verses without reading, and you rely less and less on reading. Keep in mind that when practicing these lyrics, you mustn’t dive straight into rapping fast.
Practice is the number-one way to refine your ability to rap normal lyrics faster. You can listen to fast rappers like Busta Rhymes, or record yourself.
Listening to quick rap songs and rapping in sync with the beat will help you with breath control when you rap those longer tongue twisters.
Not only is listening to others beneficial but listening to yourself is imperative too. Once you record yourself attempting fast lyrics, you can replay the recording and critique yourself. You’ll be able to improve your speed as well as your pronunciation and the clarity with which you say certain words.
A major factor when it comes to rapping better is incorporating breathing exercises into your day and actually breathing properly during performances or recording sessions. The following quick and easy exercises will enhance your breathing and ultimately upgrade your rap skill set.
To increase your lung power and capacity, try opening up your diaphragm with this exercise.
Lay with your back on the floor and place a book or something of similar weight on your belly. Take a deep breath and feel your diaphragm open up. You’ll know that you’re on the right track when the book moves.
This is a great exercise to check out your progress and practice slowly releasing air.
Inhale a good amount of air, and then slowly blow a few pieces of paper or even a feather. Make sure that you use your diaphragm to blow the objects.
Remember that you should breathe with your diaphragm. It’s key in extending your bars and rapping faster. Breathe through your diaphragm to fill your lungs by taking deep breaths in and exhaling slowly.
When you take one proper inhale you’ll feel your diaphragm move downwards towards your belly. Try breathing in for around 5 to 10 seconds to your lung’s full capacity, and then slowly exhale. When you exhale you’ll feel your diaphragm move upwards towards your throat.
Eventually, you can aim to include vowel sounds in your breathing to improve your ability to rap heavy-vowel words.
Breathing without losing your breath will become second nature to you. It’s what will separate an average rapper from a great rapper.
The breathing techniques, exercises, and tips are all interconnected. The only way to rap without losing your breath is by practicing your breathing and keeping it in the front of your mind.
It’ll be a continuous process that may take a bit of time but once you’ve mastered your breathing, you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve. Your newfound breathing prowess will allow you to get that fast verse locked down and add some crazy fast verses to switch up your flow.