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The Art of Rhyming Like a Master

Emcees are poets, they create rhyming verses over beats. It therefore becomes vital to understand the rhyme techniques used by some of the world's top poets and apply them to your own writing in order to become...a true master.

The 5 most commonly used rhyme schemes are the perfect rhyme, consonance, alliteration, assonance and slant rhymes. You'll see below how all of these techniques have been effectively used by some of the best hip hop lyricists.

The Perfect Rhyme

The perfect rhyme is the most basic type of all, where sounds are repeated using the same letters in two or more words, as in this example by 2Pac:

"is what we scream as we dream in a paranoid state And our fate, is a lifetime of hate"


Consonance is the repetition of the same consonant in the middle or end of two or more words. In this example from the Fugees, the repetition of the j forms a consonance:

"Rap rejects my tape deck, ejects projectile"


Alliteration is the repetition of same consonant at the beginning of two or more words, as in this example by Jay-Z:

"Bye-bye, my reply, blah-blah. Blast burner then pass burner, to TyTy"


Assonance is the repetition of a sound made with vowels. In this verse by Eminem, notice the constant repetition of two different sounds made with the letter "e". One is the "ee" or "y" sound, the other is the "e" sound, marked in red.

I sit back with this pack of Zig Zags and this bag
Of this weed it gives me the shit needed to be
The most meanest MC on this -- on this Earth
And since birth I've been cursed with this curse to just curse
And just blurt this berserk and bizarre shit that works
And it sells and it helps in itself to relieve
All this tension dispensin these sentences
Gettin this stress that's been eatin me recently off of this chest
And I rest again peacefully (peacefully)..
But at least have the decency in you
To leave me alone, when you freaks see me out
In the streets when I'm eatin or feedin my daughter
To not come and speak to me (speak to me)..

Using assonance can be a very good way to form the mood of the song, as different sounds can increase or decrease the energy level and change the tone of the lyrics.

Slant Rhymes

Slant rhymes are rhymes where there is a close but not perfect match in sound, as in these lyrics by Dr. Dre:

"Since the last time you heard from me I lost some friends
Well, hell, me and Snoop, we dipping again
Kept my ear to the streets, signed Eminem"

Improving your Skills to become a Master

To improve your skills it is important to learn to incorporate several types of rhymes within a single verse. Here Eminem combines several in just a single line:

"Two pills I pop, 'til my pupils swell up like two pennies"

Notice the alliteration: "T" and "P" are repeated at the beginning of three and four words respectively.

Notice the consonance, which enhances the effect of the alliteration: "P" is present at the end of "pop" and "up" and in the middle of "pupils".

Notice the perfect rhyme: The initial "Two" rhymes with the second "two". Another perfect rhyme: "pills" and "pupils".

Notice the slant rhyme: "Two pills" sounds similar to "pu-pils". Another slant rhyme: 'til with "pills" and "pupils"

It is not necessary to write rhyming lyrics the very first time you put your ideas on paper. Sometimes it can be better to write your ideas down in prose first, and then add your rhymes. This is because if you try to rhyme immediately you risk forcing yourself to use words which don't fit with the original idea, just because you need to find something that rhymes with your previous sentence.

Think about several possible rhymes for the same verse. Often the first rhyme that comes to mind is the most common one and will lack originality. The more options you have to choose from the more original your lyrics will be. That's a true master.

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