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How to Sing and Rap at the Same Time

Last Updated: December 2023 | 2595 words (13 – 15 minute read)

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In this guide we’re going to show you everything you need to know about rapping and singing at the same time. 

Is it possible? How do you do it? What does it even mean?

We’ll get into all of that and give you some tips on improving your ability to sing and rap together in various ways.

If you’re brand new to the art of rap, read our beginner’s guide on how to rap first.

Let’s get right into it…

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Singing vs. Rapping

If we’re going by strict definitions, then:

  • Singing is a vocal performance where the PITCH (i.e. musical note) of each syllable/word is it’s most prominent feature
  • Rapping is a vocal performance where the RHYTHM (i.e. the timing) of each syllable/word is it’s most prominent feature.

When you are singing a song, the different notes/pitches you sing form an overall melody. On the other hand, when you’re rapping, the different timing of your words/syllables form an overall rhythmic “flow.”

Traditionally, most rapping was seen as a form of “spoken word” rather than a form of “singing.”

But a lot of people over the years would blur the lines between the two, often talking about “singing” a rap song.

Can You Sing and Rap at the Same Time?

Yes, you can “rap” and “sing” at the same time. Contrary to what some people will tell you, it IS possible to fuse the two forms of vocal performance in a hybrid sort of way.

Below, we’ll get deeper into what this actually looks like…

But in truth, rapping has always had a melodic element to it, it just wasn’t as prominent as it has been since the rise of artists like Kanye West, Young Thug and Drake.

If you look at golden era artists like Bone Thugs N Harmony or Twista (or even going back further to artists like Shock G from Digital Underground) you can see that these rappers were explicitly using melody in their rhymes. But their flows were entirely characteristic of “rapping.”

But even artists you wouldn’t think of as being in the same vein as Twista or Bone Thugs (like DMX, for example) often integrated melody into their rhyming at different times.

And then, of course, as the art-form grew more and more artists featured the “sung hook” where a singer (or the rapper themselves) would sing a very melodic chorus section between the spoken-rapped verses.

But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

In this guide, we’re specifically talking about the ability to fuse the main characteristic of singing with the main characteristic of rapping into a hybrid vocal performance.

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How to Rap and Sing Together

There’s really not that much to singing while you rap. 

It’s just like singing anything, but you’ve got to pay special attention to the rhythm of your lyrics.

The rhythm of how you say your words in time and space (i.e. the timing of your words) is the biggest characteristic of a “rapping” style.

So if you want to learn how to sing and rap at the same time, pay close attention to your overall flow and rhythm (learn more).

At the same time, try to come up with a melody (i.e. different notes that fit the musical accompaniment or beat/track) to layer over the rhythm of your words.

You don’t need to be an amazing singer for this. Even being able to hit a couple of notes in an interesting way can make your performance stand out and really hit.

Limited Pitch Range (2 or 3 Notes)

If you’re trying to rap-sing like Future or Lil Uzi then you might also want to limit your “pitch range” (i.e. the range of notes you’re singing).

A lot of “sung” rap is often limited in pitches – they might only oscillate (go back and forth) between 2 or 3 different notes.

What’s interesting is this isn’t all too different from a lot of pop songs. Most pop songs are sung within one single octave of notes. And in some songs, the melody is limited to only a few pitches altogether. 

Even Taylor Swift has songs that only use one single note/pitch in a specific song section.

Wider Pitch Range (More Notes Being Used)

Then there’s also the sung-rap styles of artists like Drake or RMR – they use a lot wider ranges in their melody (i.e. more notes/pitches than just 2 or 3).

So you may have a lot more notes being sung throughout the melody and even have lots of larger leaps from note to note.

In these cases, you have to think a lot about melody at the same time as you’re thinking about rhythm.

But what you’ll notice more-so in BOTH types of sing-rapping above is that the RHYTHM of how the notes are sung is usually much faster and more intricate than any other type of singing.

That is what’s most characteristic about singing and rapping at the same time – THE SPEED of the rhythm.

Rapid Flows

If you want to sing-rap together, then you’re likely going to have a pretty rapid-fire (or at the very least, a “quick”) rhythm/flow.

You’re probably going to be singing and rapping your lyrics much faster (learn how) than is traditionally associated with “singing” a song.

And that’s what takes you from simply singing a song, to rapping and singing together.

And of course, deliberately creating a melody to layer on your fast lyrics as you say them, is what takes you from simply rapping a song, to rapping and singing at the same time.

So when you’re writing your lyrics, pay attention to how quickly you’re saying them and what pitches/notes you’re using to sing them.

You’ll notice that when rap-singing, you’re probably using more sixteenth notes, eighth notes, and quarter notes than whole notes or half notes.

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Blurred Lines Pt. 2

Now, even the most sing-songiest of melodies technically have a “rhythm” to them. They are, obviously, spaced throughout time in a specific way.

But traditional singing is a lot more legato (long, drawn out) than modern forms of singing. Today, a lot of singers have a much more staccato (rapid, quick/short) rhythm to their melodies.

I mentioned above, the lines between rapping and singing got blurred long ago, but that’s even more true nowadays.

Even your favorite Pop and R&B singers are now incorporating more rapid rhythms in their songs (especially within the verses).

Think of Ariana Grande. Her rhythms (especially lately) are much faster than other traditional pop singers. You could say she sing-raps in a lot of different songs. And she’s inspired the latest generation of singers as well.

And even though he wasn’t the first to do it, Drake has influenced a lot of young rappers to be much more melodic in their lyrics than ever before.

So the lines are even blurrier, especially in modern pop.

But the two constants of a sung-rapped style stay the same:

  1. There is a distinct and “singable” melody beyond words simply being spoken out loud
  2. There is a distinct and recognizable rhythm that is faster and more intricate than simply singing in a traditional sense.

If you can wrap your head around those two things, and keep them in mind while writing your songs, you’ll do fine.

Different Vocal Pitch Techniques in Rapping

As mentioned above, rap has always had an element of pitch (or melody) to it. 

But this use of pitch has actually been studied at the University of Rochester. It’s a guide on a few ways that pitch is used in traditional rapping styles if you’re having trouble seeing the “melodic” aspects of rap.

It’s also good information to be familiar with if you’re trying to rap and sing simultaneously. It may spark some fresh ideas you can try out yourself.

Here’s a quick overview of the different techniques Robert Komaniecki describes in his study.

Rhyme Strengthening

This concept basically refers to using two or three separate pitches/notes across different rap lines so that you add more emphasis to a rhyme, by matching the rhyming words in pitch.

Komaniecki uses the example of Eminem’s “White America” to demonstrate this.

Exaggerated Declamation

When people speak, they sometimes lower the pitch of their voice at the end of a sentence. Other people raise the pitch of their voice at the end of a sentence.

This happens naturally, depending on the context of the conversation when someone is making a “declarative” statement (i.e. they are “declaring” something).

In rap, this can be seen when the pitch of the rappers voice drops or rises and the end of his lines, while the beginnings are rapped in a different pitch.

The example used in this technique is Kendrick Lamar’s guest verse in Jay Rock’s “Vice City.”

Pitched Rhythmic Layers

This technique refers to a rapper using a regular flow but then rapping certain words or syllables in a completely different pitch in different areas of their lyrics.

The outcome is that you almost perceive two different rhythmic “layers” happening at the same time, and depending on each other – one in the regular voice/pitch, and one in the altered voice/pitch.

The two examples you can listen to, to hear this are Eminem’s “The Ringer” and Kendrick’s verse on Dr. Dre’s “Deep Water.”

Sung Interjections

This technique is actually very common in rap and is done by almost every rapper you can think of at some point.

It basically refers to a rapper intentionally “singing” a small section of their lyrics within their overall “spoken” rap.

You can find examples of this literally everywhere, but the study mentions Dr. Dre’s “Darkside/Gone” and Queen Latifah’s “Princess of the Posse.”

Sung/Chanted Verses

This final category of vocal pitch technique in rap is closest to what we’ve been discussing in this guide. It’s the fused form of “sung-rap” that is characteristic of a lot of modern Pop and mainstream Hip-Hop music.

In rap, this has been happening since the beginning, as described above. But it became more and more prominent over the decades to the point where it is almost everywhere in Rap today.

This is literally where a rapper will sing/rap their entire verse using several different pitches for each word/syllable to produce an overall melody that is highly rhythmic.

Two of the examples given in the study are Nelly’s iconic song “Country Grammar,” and Bone Thugs N Harmony’s iconic “Crossroads.”

In the case of Crossroads, Bone Thugs even explicitly said they were “rapping and singing at the same time.”

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Tips to Get Better at Singing and Rapping Together

Hopefully now you have a better idea of exactly how this type of hybrid rap/sung vocal performance is done. It may take some getting used to if you’re not familiar with either type of vocalizing.

Just keep at it and you’ll get better and better.

In that light, here are some tips that will help you become a better singer and rapper.

Lyrics vs. Melody vs. Rhythm – Where to Start

The first question you may have at this point is what do you start with?

Do you first write the melody, the lyrics or the rhythm?

The answer is… “yes.”

You can do either or. Try them all out and then stick to the one that feels right for you. There’s no wrong way to do this. Some people may mumble out a melody, refine the rhythm of it, and then find the words later.

Others may write the entire verse word-for-word, before trying to fit a melody onto it.

Usually, whether you start with melody or lyrics, the rhythm part will be done alongside it. That’s because when you’re writing song lyrics or melody, the rhythm is inextricably linked to each.

Train Your Voice

If you really want to sing and rap well together, then you should seriously consider training your voice.

It’s not 100% necessary, but when someone has a great singing voice, their performance is heightened to another level.

You can still make it work, even if you don’t hit your pitches properly – it’s been happening since the start of Hip-Hop.

But today there are a lot of rappers that have GREAT voices, so to really compete it may make sense to train your voice with some online vocal lessons. They’re affordable and if you practice, it will make a huge difference in your overall performance.

Write 100 Songs

This is not an exaggeration. If you’re just starting out as a music artist, you need a undeniable stack of work you’ve completed.

And the only way to get to be a GREAT performer and song maker, is to MAKE SONGS. Lots of them.

That’s why I often recommend EVERYONE looking to get into music, just put their head down and write/create 100 songs.

Don’t worry about your brand, or your streaming numbers, etc. 

Hell, don’t even release ANYTHING until you’re done writing 100 songs).

Once you’re on song #101, you’ll be exceptionally better than when you started. And that’s when you can start releasing your music.

It’s all about putting in the numbers – get to 100 songs, then you’re at the starting line.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are Rapping and Singing the Same?

No, rapping and singing are not the same, but they can be blended. Rapping is more defined by the rhythm of your vocal performance while the pitch/note range of your performance defines singing. You can sing, rap or combine both vocal qualities into a heavily rhythmic and melodic performance.

Is Singing Better than Rapping?

No, singing is not better than rapping – it is simply a different type of vocal performance. One is not better than the other, and both styles of vocal performance can be combined together.

Can You Sing and Rap at the Same Time?

Yes, you can sing and rap at the same time. While singing is concerned with the pitches/notes you vocalize, rap places more emphasis on the rhythm (or “flow”) of your vocal performance. You can combing both of these aspects by singing various pitches in a heavily rhythmic vocal performance.

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    Final Thoughts

    And there you have it – a complete guide to perfecting the modern hybrid approach to vocal performance in music.

    Again, put in the work and get through your first 100 songs. At the beginning they will all suck, but that’s the price you pay to be good at anything.

    Also, seriously consider taking singing lessons like 30 Day Singer or Vocal Mastery – they will work wonders on your voice, and you won’t always have to rely on heavily auto-tuned vocals to cover up your pitch deficiencies.

    When you’re learning how to sing and rap at the same time, make sure you also listen to a ton of music. Let the styles and techniques seep into your mind, to give you inspiration on the things you can do with your own music.

    If you are ready to get your music out there to the world, I highly recommend you use Tunecore – they’re an affordable way to release unlimited music to Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and more.

    Hope this guide was helpful! Thanks for reading.

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    About The Author:

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    Omar Zulfi

    Omar Zulfi is a music producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and digital entrepreneur. He is the founder and head writer at Deviant Noise. Learn more about what he's doing by clicking here.