There are many bedroom rappers making their name these days. People can quite literally start from the bottom and hit the heights. We live in an age where anyone can try beat making, or download a backing track and start rapping. 20 or 30 years ago you would have needed a lot of time and money to record any sort of vocals and you would have had to go to a professional recording studio. Fortunately, rap vocals can be recorded at home now with relative ease. We look at how in this article.
It is easy to forget the amazing things we have at our disposal. A wannabe rapper can get a setup at home for a relatively low cost (if you already have a laptop to produce music on or record onto, you can buy everything you need for under $200). On top of this, resources like YouTube, Bandcamp, Soundcloud and social networking sites mean we have distribution and tools for building a fan base at our fingertips.
A Good Quality Microphone
The first step is making sure you have a quality microphone for recording. There are two ways to go about this, either a microphone which has USB capability (the easiest) or you can buy a microphone and an audio interface. This is a little bit of work and adds an extra step, but some argue it gets better results.
USB microphones got a bit of stick when they first came out. The technology wasn’t great to start with but has come a long way and plenty of USB recordings have crept into commercially released songs. The best USB rapping mics (some of which feature in our list of best mics for rapping) are more than good enough to get started and create some demos.
An Audio Interface will plug into your computer, often via USB, and will allow you to plug microphones in and start recording. They boost the signal to the level where you can get a clear and loud audio recording from an XLR microphone. XLR is the most common type of mic out there, and classic vocal mics such as the SM58 by Shure will do a fine job of recording rap vocals.
Practice Your Flow
Even if you are recording yourself, rapping becomes a lot tougher when there is a microphone in your face. You are likely to become self-aware and worry about messing up. It’s very different to when you are rapping on your own or in the car! The best way to get to grips with it is to practice your rapping over and over again, whilst you are recording. If you mess up, no problem, you can always edit and chop up vocals to fit in music production software such as Reaper. The main point is that the longer you spend being recorded by a microphone, the more used to it you will get. Putting the hours in will pay dividends in the long run.
Acoustics and Recording Environment
You would be amazed at the number of recordings which are made without taking care of the environment. You can have the best microphone in the world, along with the best rapper, but if you record in a space where there is background noise or bad acoustics then your recording is ruined.
A bit of common sense comes into play here. If you record in a huge bathroom with echo in it, that is going to be in your recording! A simple way to make sure you have good acoustics is to record in a room which has a lot of furniture in it, where the reverb will have been soaked up. You can further add to this quality with a vocal isolation booth.
Software or your DAW is another key component. DAW stands for digital audio workstation. This is basically music software and what people use for beat making, producing and recording music. It is essential for recording. Many computers come with something that has the ability to do this, but upgrading to other software is preferable. The video below does a good job of walking you through pros and cons. There is even free software out there for the rapper on a budget!
Try and Try Again…
The number one piece of advice for rappers and producers starting to dabble in home recordings is to keep trying stuff. In a recording studio, rappers can spend weeks laying down vocals, it isn’t a process that you can run through in 10 minutes even if you are a very talented rapper.
Make sure you get multiple takes of everything. Repeat yourself until you have something you are happy with, and try different recordings in different rooms and positions. You’re not going to nail it first time and the more time you put into it the better your chances.