An App That Teaches You to Rap
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
You might have flow and you just didn’t know.
By Libby Coleman
These days, you can share statuses, pictures and videos online. Well, future hip-hop legends, listen up: Now you can create your own rap, with a sweet beat behind it, and share it with the world. From your phone.
Freestyle rap app Rhymeo gives budding freestylers a free platform to create and share their next top single … or at least practice their performance. First you select a producer-provided beat from the offerings, which are divided into slow, medium and fast pace and have hilarious names like “radiation,” “whiplash” and, of course, “epic.” Next, you pick a subject to rap about — the ’90s, college life, fame or “hungry for success” — and lyrics and rhymes are suggested to you. Hit record and start flowing. (You just know this is how Kendrick Lamar produces his tracks.) So far, co-founder Josh Jacobs says more than 15,000 freestyles have been made with the app, and nearly 5,500 accounts have been opened since the first beta launch last July. The free app can be used on your iPhone, iPad or iPod (those still exist!) anytime you are struck with hip-hop inspiration.
The Instagram-chic app can also help with spoken word poetry.
Fans of hip-hop, the San Francisco-based Jacobs and Justin Ponczek came up with the idea for Rhymeo a couple years ago. Before that, Ponczek made beats and Jacobs freestyled; one day they realized they could use Ponczek’s interactive design skills to further the cause of rappers everywhere. What started out as a website turned into an app. Their long-term goal is to create a useful songwriting tool and sharpen emerging artists’ wordplay. The Instagram-chic app can also help with spoken word poetry, Jacobs says.
And Rhymeo’s not the only freestyle rap app (rapp?) out there. Rapchat, which lets users rap, share and listen for free, launched in June of 2014. It recently surpassed 570,000 downloads, according to CEO Seth Miller, and underwent a large overhaul update last October. These apps provide not only the platform for creativity, but also the tools to share your totally dope rhymes on multiple social media platforms. Of course, freestyling may have never crossed your mind, but it turns out it can even be good for you. Research in 2012 on the science of freestyling claims that conscious control decreases and free-thinking takes over during a few minutes of rapping. Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.” He was almost certainly thinking about freestyling.
But don’t expect to become an instant rap sensation overnight. While rap coach Drew Morisey thinks these apps look like fun, he’s not sure that freestyling to your phone will translate to being able to improvise in front of a crowd. And feedback on your performance comes from other app users — who are not necessarily experts. Morisey says he works with his clients one-on-one to break down their flow. He likens freestyle apps to Guitar Hero, which popularized guitar playing but in and of itself didn’t make anyone Slash.
Even so, these rapps are hungry for success. Someone should write a rap about that.