"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The 3R's to Awesome Writing! (Rap, R&B, and Rock-n-Roll)

Some time ago, upon discovering that I enjoy the music of bad-boy rapper 50 Cent, a fellow-writer blasted me for my “misguided” choice.
He pointed out the fact that many rappers have lyrics that promote violence, materialism, and misogyny. Couldn’t believe that someone as straight laced and socially conscious as he considered me to be, would actually “indulge“.

Though it’s true that many of today’s entertainment icons in the rap industry use words and references that could make a sailor blush, it’s not a totally valid assessment for all of them collectively and their music. Don’t believe the hype!

Here’s an example. In a popular song by Tupac Shakur, the gangsta’ rapper pays a touching tribute to his mom in a song entitled, “You are appreciated.”

In fact, even with its bad “rep”, some rappers actually champion important causes and seek to promote social justice. When asked to defend his lyrics to critics, 50 Cent shared this: “Only God can judge me.”

But, the purpose of today’s piece is not to defend the merits of “alternative” types of music. No, my friend. Today’s post is designed to help you become a rock-star writer and have “the moves like Jagger!”

So, if you’re on board, I’d like to share how listening to the “3 R’s” enhanced my writing, helped to reach broader audiences, and increased my bottom line.

As an award-winning writer of more than a decade, here’s what I’ve learned over the years that has taken my writing to new levels and put a song in my heart. And it can for you too.


Rappers and singers often skillfully use some of the same literary techniques and devices our English teachers tried to drill in our heads back in high school.Here are a few of them you may remember: hyperbole, imagery, analogies, alliteration, and poetry. For example, In a popular song, one rapper compares the dance floor with the heat of a tea kettle. While another artist compares a woman’s body to a sanctuary. Use phrases and references that evoke emotion, puts a different spin on things, and makes indelible impressions on the minds of busy readers. They know how to turn pain in to profit.
Word! They’re savvy about turning life’s lemons into lemonade. Behind the blaring music, if you listen closely, you’ll hear stories of love and loss. Of humble beginnings, having “haters,” and even dealing with personal demons. It’s something we all can relate to on some levels; no one is immune to these universal experiences, no matter what side of the track we may come from. Though these experiences may not translate into the next billboard hit, as writers, they can become “scores” for personal essays, poems, or commentary pieces. Take your heartbreak to the bank.
Rappers are “convicted” in more ways than one.
You may not morally share their perspective, but you should definitely aspire to their deep sense of conviction. Take for instance, Lil Kim, who was incarcerated for reportedly trying to protect friends regarding a shooting outside a nightclub. Now of course, I’m not advocating that you go out and do anything that violates your moral code, or that will land you behind bars, (though it could very well lead to a book deal). J Your writing should stand for something! Watch their videos or read their tell-all books, and their intensity and commitment is truly evident. Passion moves people. In other words, if you’re not geeked about your subject matter, chances are your readers won’t be either.
Controversy sells, and they are great merchants. Have courage, don't always play it safe. Disagree with a position made by a blogging "expert," or take a different position on social media popularity, or "sound off" on a heated topic in the news. I know, I have. As long as it’s done tastefully, and you are “well-informed,” a little controversy can ultimately help to establish you as an online influencer, and brand you as someone authentic and worth “following”. That's the stuff that "solid platforms" are built upon.
    Note: It's important to recognize, folks, that controversy is different than angry, spiteful, personal "ranting". Don't get it twisted. :-)
    They diversify their talents and their income streams.
    Puff Daddy does this through a popular clothing line.
    50 Cent has a lucrative vitamin water and "fly gear" business.
    Some singers even operate trendy, successful restaurants.
    What can we learn from this? Cast a wider net. Dabble in different genres. Don't rest on your laurels.
    They collaborate with those whom they admire.
    Everything is not always about competition; there's enough "bling" out there for all of us.
    Consider collaborative projects as a great way to build important friendships, expand your offerings, and share the spotlight with other talented artists.

Well, this concludes my "performance" here today. Let me know what you think about today's topic. Agree or disagree? Anything you intend to incorporate in your writing soon?
Remember, "Swagger matters!" :-)

Last, but not least, this is just a reminder that Pen & Prosper will be on a short break until mid-August. Feel free to stop by and leave comments in the interim. I'll be checking here and there. :-)


Image: Freedigitalphotos.net






  1. Yes, you never know if that's a way to grow my writing flow, creating Rap Rhymes & Lyrics on the go.

    And also possibly instead of a Clothing-line, creating Greeting Cards of my own Design :)

    (Btw. you can find a 'recent' new post about both Lyrics - and Greeting Card Writing on my writing blog)

  2. Yes, you never know if that's a way to grow my writing flow, creating Rap Rhymes and Lyrics on the go.

    And also possibly instead of a Clothing-line, creating Greeting Cards of my own Design :)

    (Btw. you can find a 'recent' new post about both Lyrics - and Greeting Card Writing on my writing blog)

  3. I've long admired songwriters, not just for their ability to string words together, but to add music to them. I think that's rather amazing, doubling up two skills or gifts. Good applicable points, Jen, thank you!

    Enjoy your break! :)

    1. Karen,

      Me too. :-) Something we can all learn from, as creative artists.

  4. Believe it or not there's a Jesus Rocks service at our church once a month and we use pop songs as the sermon. Together with the pastor we try to find the meaning behind the lyrics. Last month it was Justin Bieber! There's something for a writer to learn at every turn. So glad you wrote this, Jen.

    1. Sue,

      Sounds fun! And it certainly gives the "Bieber Fever" new meaning. I love that idea your church has. I think there's a quote that states: "The true sign of intelligence is an open mind."

  5. Great analogy, Jennifer. I am definitely about to make like 50 Cent, P Diddy (or whatever his name is this week), and Jay Z and diversify my income streams. I have marketing plan; now it's time to work it.

    1. Thanks, Marcie. Your plan sounds like it will be "off the hizzle fo' shizzle!"

    2. P.S., I think he's still "P. Diddy" this week. LOL