How To Rap Fast Without Mumbling

Charlie K    |

If you’ve been reading this blog long, you’ve probably already seen me ramble on about mumbling for several articles. It’s all well and good to start the article talking about how not to mumble, but I feel that starting on an introduction to what to do when you are mumbling is much better.
What are you talking about?

As rappers, we are essentially practicing our voices. There is a common misconception that we are just trying to write good bars, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Our voices are an art form, and they will change, evolve, and respond to what we are doing.

Sometimes we are simply talking about an idea we want to get across. For instance, someone who was an actor might be like, “I want you to notice the color of the sky when you’re driving down the highway.”

Other times, however, we are throwing around new words that we have not heard before, and we are trying to use them to convey a thought and spark a new thought.

Our tongues are built on sampling the conversation and translating what we hear into what we are saying. Even if you are trying to be poetic, you cannot be lyrical or thoughtful if you cannot talk about what you want to say.

Remember that everything you say is someone’s first language, and you may be forcing it. If you are trying to be profound with a word like “respect,” there is a good chance that you are using it in a way that is not meant to be used.

Please don’t make your business clever and succinct; make sure your words are actually useful and that what you’re saying isn’t falling on deaf ears.

Keep your tongue separated

This may sound like a no-brainer, but if you try to talk without being able to articulate what you’re saying, you will probably mumble. Mumbling is just holding back your words, and in doing so, you’re also going to cause yourself to mumble.

This is one of the hardest parts of rapping but is very necessary. By keeping your tongue separated from your mouth, you are giving yourself the ability to keep things coming at a faster rate while still being able to be articulate with your words.

Keep your tongue clamped on the speech chasmman in red adidas zip up jacket holding clear glass ball

The speech chasm is the space between your tongue and your soft palate. The tongue is like a fist, and when you say a word, it is located in the soft palate of your mouth.

As you speak, you have to press the tongue forward (clamp it), and in doing so, you create a “friction” in the chasm. What this creates is a movement that moves the speech from your mouth into your nasal passage.

Not only will this cause you to mumble, but it will cause you to strain and hold your voice. In the time it takes you to speak, the air has already passed over your vocal cords and is already in your nose, throat, and lungs.

Anything in your nose is now being held there, and every part of your mouth that you are not actively speaking causes the air to be held in a different place.

When you speak, the air passes through the soft palate, the tongue, and the palate and gets to the vocal cords. Your vocal cords are located in your larynx.

When you speak, you take in a breath and push air into your lungs and vocal cords. You are then able to expel the air from your lungs with your mouth shut.

This sound is almost always very soft and low in pitch, so it is easy to miss and for a listener to take your speech as more of a growl.

Remember, though, that if you are trying to say something deep and meaningful, you will have to speak at a slower pace. The only way to convey your meaning is to use a shallow pitch to achieve maximum resonance.

The tongue’s ability to make the palatal fold

The tongue’s ability to create a palatal fold (also known as the dip) is one of the most impressive things. Just listen to the way an expert (like Chance the Rapper) sounds when they’re rapping.

As you can hear, he sounds very smooth, using just his tongue to create the dip, his lips to provide a seal, and the jaw to open and close.

This is one of the keys to rapping, and it is an almost extinct skill in our world. A majority of our mouths are not capable of the precision needed to do the kind of complex stuff that rappers can do.

If you’ve ever had your teeth cleaned and had the hygienist squeeze your gums between her thumb and her fingers, you can see what I mean.

If you want to be a rapper, you need to master this skill. For most of us, if we try to rap without creating a dip, we sound as if we are growling.

The position of the tongue as it movesLocal rock band at an apartment

The tongue also needs to be able to move around when it is in the speech chasm. You should also see how far it moves in one direction when it is in the chasm, and that’s how far the tongue moves in the direction of the syllable you are attempting to form.

Because the tongue moves with you and not the other way around, it can manipulate the shape of the words you are trying to create in a very complex way. It can move the sounds around the mouth in an exact manner.

When you are talking, your tongue is always in a certain position relative to the muscles in your mouth and the face's structures. You can sometimes skip using other muscles of the face like the lip to help create different sounds.

You can also perform different actions, and these all affect the sound you are making.

Look at when Chance the Rapper is rapping about his cars. He is flapping his tongue to produce the vowel sound “u.”

This is the opposite of how he sounds when he is actually making love (i.e., to his cars). The tonguing motion is a muscle motion and is unrelated to the actions in the bedroom.

Tongue force and massTwo people wearing black shirts standing near wall

An important detail that most people do not think about the significance of developing great rap skills is how the tongue feels during different speech parts. I will not describe how the tongue feels in the mouth, but you can watch videos on this by watching yourself perform a rap.

Some people say that there is a “muscle memory” triggered when people speak, which makes it easier for them to speak, especially when they use rap to practice their skills.

Know your instrument

Many rapping elements can’t be directly applied to other instruments, such as using the tip of your tongue to play a snare or other aspects of drumming.

The fact is, when it comes to producing great bars, there is very little that can’t be directly applied to any other instrument.

For instance, when you see someone throw out a perfect “bonkers” lope over a solid soulful sample, that’s a piece of the puzzle that can’t be directly applied to a keyboard or a guitar.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t tricks to using your instrument to improve your skills.

Any musician can always improve his or her ability to read and play music.

But it’s not about reading books and studying articles and charts about music theory. That’s not what you need to learn.

It would help if you learned how to sit down with an instrument and learn how to make your sounds unique by learning how to read and play notes.

It would help if you learned how to sit down and make a kick drum sound different by taking the sound from a snare and playing it differently.

It would help if you made your guitar parts unique by pulling some sounds from the instrument you’re playing.

You can start from there and improve your instrument's aspects that are the most important, or you can study some instrumental music theory and get that under your belt.

The point is, don’t take the average approach to learn how to play an instrument. Go and find something that you’re passionate about and then immerse yourself in that instrument to learn how to play it correctly.

Embrace the magic that is rappingMan in green button up shirt wearing black framed eyeglasses

Do you know the type of person that goes off on tangents during conversations?

Some people say they don’t have conversations, that they stare at you and go off on this thought process in their head, like they’re a character in a movie, that they’re a movie character.

I don’t think I’ve ever met a person that doesn’t have “conversations.”

In fact, that’s how most people are. They’re constantly thinking about the same things. Still, they’re doing so with language, a tool capable of creating infinite varieties in how we communicate and how we create unique things from that language.

What’s more, using language allows us to create emotions and feelings in others without physically touching a person.

As humans, it’s simply part of our survival instinct to communicate with one another, so let’s prioritize the amount of clarity delivered through our words.

I know it’s all fun and games to play words with our mouths, but there’s a lot more to the game than that.

You can’t just hop on your bike or motorcycle and go for a ride through your favorite corner of the world without knowing how to ride or drive that bike.

Similarly, you can’t just tell a story in your mind and expect to create incredible art.

So, that’s why it’s so important actually to learn how to rap.

Not only will you be learning how to play music as well, but you will also learn how to perform that music and effectively express yourself in writing.

You learn how to play music through theory, technique, and analysis of how a piece's form and structure work.

You learn how to write by analyzing literature and poetry.

Learning how to rap, however, is fundamentally different.

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