Using Multi-Syllable Rhymes To Advance Your Rapping Skill
As a hip hop artist, there are many things you can do to separate yourself from your competition through increasing your skill set, songwriting ability, image, promotion/marketing, beat selection, and so on. In this article, I’ll be discussing one thing you can do to improve upon your songwriting skills which will make your songs sound much more satisfying to listen to. This songwriting skill is the art of multisyllabic rhyming. This technique will not only make your songs sound better, but it will make your rhymes sound more intelligent and take your writing to a totally new level. Not to mention, nothing beats the satisfaction of coming up with a perfectly fluent multi.
What is multisyllabic rhyming?
Multisyllabic rhyming, also called “multis” for short, are a type of rhyme scheme in which 2 or more syllables rhyme. Multis differ from traditional rhyme schemes, as traditional schemes usually only rhyme the last syllable in a series of lines. In order for you to grasp the difference, here is an an example of a traditional rhyme and a multisyllabic rhyme:
The sun beats down
Upon my crown
The sun is hot
I run a lot
Both rhyme schemes in the example above contain 4 syllables per line. However, in the traditional scheme, only the last word of each line, “down” and “crown”, rhyme. In the multisyllabic scheme, both the 2nd syllables of each line (“sun” and “run”), and the 4th syllables of each line (“hot” and “lot”) rhyme.
If you read each of the examples aloud, you may find that there is something more satisfying sounding about the multisyllabic rhyme, and that is because there are multiple sections of each line that rhyme.
The rhyme above is an incredibly simple example of a multi. There are different, more complex multisyllabic scheme types which we will get into later, but it is great to first practice with more simplified, shorter lines until you hone the skill.
Internal and Complex Multis
As mentioned above, there are various kinds of multis which involve different placements of rhyming words, timing, and other factors. One common example of a more complex multi is an internal rhyme. An internal rhyme is basically a rhyme pattern in which rhyming words are found within one line, as opposed to being found in two successive lines. An internal rhyme also defines words that rhyme in the middle of 2 successive lines instead of at the end. Here are two examples of internal rhymes:
- I shine bright when the time’s right and my mind might go crazy
- Got a mic in my left, a pen in my right
I’ll fight t0 the death, there’s no end in sight
In the first example, there are 3 sets of multis all contained within one line: “shine bright”, “time’s right”, and “mind might”. This is an internal single line rhyme, and it is a multi because it contains more than one rhyming word in each phrase.
In the second example, the rhyming phrases are contained in successive lines, but the multi’s are contained in the middle of each line, making these internal rhymes by its second definition. “Mic in my left” and “fight till the death” are multis, as “mic” and “fight” are rhyming words, and “left” and “death” are as well. As a side note, please note that both of these sets of rhymes are imperfect rhymes, as the words rhyme more so by their sound than they do the letters they contain. I will elaborate more about perfect and imperfect rhymes in a future article, though.
Examples of Multis in Hip Hop
There are some hip hop artists who are known for their use of multis, and others who rarely, if ever, use the technique. Please understand that there is no “correct” way to rap. There are some rappers who never use multis who are all-time great artists. It is not a mandatory skill to learn, but it can highly improve the way your rhymes sound. One of the first hip hop artists to put them into heavy use was Kool G. Rap. His rhyming patterns opened the door for later rappers like Eminem, MF Doom, Saigon, Big Pun, amongst others, who took the skill to new heights and started to write incredibly complex multisyllabic rhyme schemes.
One legendary hip hop artist who comes to my mind who rarely, if ever, focused on multis is Prodigy from Mobb Deep. However, I am definitely not holding this against him or considering him less of an artist for using more simple rhymes. There are MANY factors which contribute to success as a rapper, and complexity in songwriting isn’t always needed if other important factors are. Prodigy was known more for his street image, his gritty vocal tone, his huge catalog of hits with Mobb Deep, and his essence of true hip hop than he was for his lyrical complexity, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. He is still a hip hop icon.
When To Avoid Using Multis
Once you start becoming good at multisyllabic rhyming, it can be very hard to make the decision not to use the technique. You may find that you want to rhyme as many words as you can. This is fine, but I believe that you should never try to make words rhyme just for the sake of rhyming. This is especially true when you are writing a song with an important meaning or story.
Let’s say that you come up with a powerful idea that you want to put into words, and you find yourself with two options:
- You try to make a multi out of the idea, so you force less-impactful words to rhyme with each other.
- You choose a simpler rhyme scheme, and are not bound to a selection of rhyming words, enabling a more impactful message.
I believe that the second option would beat out the first in almost every situation, because a more concise, powerful message should almost always hold importance over rhyming just for the sake of rhyming.
There is one group of rappers who used to have a habit of choosing multis over meaning, and that is the Diplomats. Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, and JR Writer in particular used to write a lot of nonsensical lyrics, solely because it rhymed. Though successful and one of my favorite rap groups at the time (they always chose great beats), they received a lot of flack for their lyrics. JR Writer, who was one of my favorite mixtape artists, used to rhyme multiple syllables in EVERY SINGLE set of lines across all of his mixtapes and albums. I loved his music and the multis were entertaining (and funny) at times, but I feel that it really limited him as an artist and made a lot of his lyrics sound forced. It did work for him though, but I just feel that he could have been even better.
If you are serious about your artistry as a rapper, and seek to add as many skills into your arsenal as possible, I highly advise you learn about and incorporate multis into your raps. As mentioned, this technique will have a big impact on the way your listeners perceive your songs, whether they know about multis or not. To the trained ear, they will impress. And to the untrained ear, they will just sound better. I will aim to write a more in-depth article about multis for rappers who are experienced with multis and wish to take them to new levels. Until then, best wishes with your rap career! Oh, and if you are currently looking to buy beats online, please check out my beat store here!