There are many variables to constructing a well-written rap song which can be instrumental to your success. Because songwriting in any genre is a creative art, there is no single set formula to writing. However, there are certainly techniques that should be considered, especially to the artist who is seeking to grow and improve.
One of these such techniques is multi-syllabic rhyme patterns. This technique is used in every form of hip hop – from underground to trap – but it is most commonly heard in the more lyrical hip hop styles. Kool G. Rap and Rakim are two of the rappers who revolutionized this style and popularized it, and Eminem is commonly cited as the rapper who took it to levels previously unreached.
Multi-syllable rhyme patterns (also known as “multis”) are one writing technique that are essential to taking your craft to the next level. If you are unfamiliar with this technique, this article will hopefully help you to get a grasp on what it is and how to use it.
What Are Multis?
Multis are defined as the practice of rhyming more than one syllable in consecutive phrases. A simple example of a multi would be:
“I’m in the zone when I make all my lines
They all know that I’m great with the rhymes.”
In this phrase, the words in bold are the ones which contain the multi-syllabic rhymes. If you notice, “make” rhymes with “great”, and “lines” rhymes with “rhymes”.
Another very important quality of multis is that the rhyming words should usually appear in the same place, syllabically, in each line. “Make all my lines”, the last 4 words of the first line, contains 4 syllables total, as does “great with the lines”. The first syllable of each line rhymes (“make” and “great”), and the 4th syllable of each line rhymes (“lines” and “rhymes”). This matching placement of rhyming words is important to the effectiveness of the technique.
There are cases where the syllabic placement of multi’s do not need to match up to sound good, but if you are new to this technique, it is a good idea to aim to match the placement.
For the sake of comparison, I’d like to give you a line that is not considered a multi. This following example is NOT a multi:
“I’m in the zone when I make all my lines
They all know that I’m nice with the rhymes.”
In the example above, only “lines” and “rhymes” are the rhyming words, so it is not a multi-syllable phrase.
Why Use Multis?
The usage of multis is important for two main reasons. The first reason is that your rap songs will simply sound much better if you incorporate them into your lyrics.
Go back to the example above, and rap the two examples out loud to yourself. You will probably notice that the first example (the one that contains the multis) sounds much better and more cohesive. When the human ear hears a multiple amount of syllables which rhyme in consecutive sentences, it is perceived in a way which makes the artist sound more advanced, and the sound of multiple rhyming words is pleasing to the ear.
The second reason that multis are important is that whenever an educated listener hears your music, they will identify the fact that you are using multis, and they will instantly know that your lyricism is more advanced. Because I have developed a good ear for identifying multis, I always listen for them whenever I hear a new rapper, and many industry A&Rs and other record label experts will do the same thing when they hear your music.
Can Multis Be Over-Used?
Absolutely, 100%. Just like anything else, there is a fine balance of how much to use any technique in music.
I used to listen to a rapper named J.R. Writer when I was younger. He is a perfect example of someone who overused multis. The reason it was bad in his case was because he put the need for multis ahead of his lyrical content. This caused something that I refer to as “forced lyrics”. Instead of writing a sentence naturally or in a creative way, he constricted himself to having to rhyme multiple syllables with the previous sentence. This severely limited his lyrical creativity, and ultimately caused him to create some lyrics which made little sense, all for the sake of rhyming more than one syllable.
Every song is different, so there are no rules – but you should never let the need to rhyme multiple syllables beat out the use of an amazing line just for the sake of rhyming alone. You have MANY other opportunities in every song you write to display your multi-syllabic talents, so you should not over emphasize them and squeeze the creativity out of your words.
Multis are not limited to only the ending words of sentences. You can rhyme more than one syllable of the middle parts or even beginning of consecutive phrases. Rappers like Eminem will sometimes rhyme every single syllable of back to back sentences with one another.
Once you begin to grow with using this technique, I recommend that you utilize it in many different ways. Don’t always use the same structure of rhyming syllables, or else you will become predictable and ultimately, stale as a rapper. Always re-create yourself, and learn new techniques.
In the next article, I will dive more into using multis throughout various parts of each phrase, and go more in-depth. Until then, feel free to practice this technique on some of our beats so you can begin to develop it.