Rap music is like a poem that rhymes and is comprised of short verses with certain words emphasized. Some rap songs are full of angst but several rappers are now writing more lyrical, more musical as opposed to just spoken words and sometimes comedic rap songs. Rap also follows a certain beat and flow, same as any music genre.
Recording rap vocals requires the use of good recording equipment, as the rapper's voice is the major component of rap music. Below are tips on how to record great rap vocals.
- Rap vocals dip and burst. Some of the lyrics are sung loudly while some may be too soft for an ordinary microphone to pick up. The great range between the high and low vocals is very difficult to catch without the use of professional equipment. To pick up all the sounds that the rapper will make. One solution is to use a compressor and gate before the preamp. This will automatically lower the volume when a preset threshold is exceeded and can still pick up the soft words and low notes. The gate will take care of keeping the background noise in check. The rapper can shout and whisper and you will be able to maintain the recording at an optimum level.
- Set your preamp to -17dbfs for an average signal. It can rise to -9 for the loudest vocal and dip way below for the softest sound. Your preamp should be a good one and you should maintain a clean signal path to capture a good rap vocal recording. This will avoid clipping.
- Use a dynamic microphone which is better suited for vocals. It can stand loud sounds and pick soft notes too. A condenser microphone might distort the sound when the rapper sings in a louder voice or screams or moves too close to the microphone. One microphone that is recommended for rap vocals is Shure SM58.
- Ideally the rapper should stand a foot away from the microphone. Use a pop filter to prevent the rapper from getting too close to the mic. Tell him to move farther away from the microphone when he has to shout and move closer when he has to rap some of the verses in a softer voice. Teach the rapper not to sing directly to the microphone. He should stand a few centimeters to the side for a better sound pick up.
- For a more professional sounding rap vocal recording. Duplicate the track that you have recorded. You can use one or two tracks for overdubbing. This will put emphasis on some parts and the main verse of the song.
- Do not add too many effects during the track mixing. Rap is dry vocals. Overdubs are usually enough for rap, but you can add some reverb on selected portions of the track to provide interest and focus.
Read instructional materials and tutorials done by professional recording engineers. The internet is one of the great sources of information for vocal recording techniques. You can also try to get some first hand information from recording engineers and recording studio technicians. Their experience will greatly help you when it is time for you to record great rap vocals.