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34  MEMBERS DID THIS ACTIVITY

Tell it Like it Is

Create, record and edit your own song.

This is a great way to get members involved in recording and editing their own media. Don't be intimidated. It isn't hard to get started.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

Computer or Phone
Microphone
 

STEP 1
TIME: 10 MINUTES

What Is Your Rap About?

Brainstorm ideas for your song. Often rappers write about something personal or about their everyday lives. Eche O., the Club member who won the Lyricism 101 Cipher Contest in 2016, wrote about culture and identity.

This article has some good tips for writing rap.

Note: If you participated in BGCA’s Lyricism 101 program, you can use one of the raps you already wrote.

Tell members that today they will write songs. Ask them to think about a few things that are important to them. Give a few personal examples of themes or things from your life that you could write about. As a group, watch this video of a rap from Eche O., a fellow BGCA member who won the 2016 Lyricism 101 Cipher Contest. Ask members what he rapped about.

STEP 2
TIME: 15 MINUTES

What Are Your Lyrics?

Brainstorm to come up with lyrics for your rap. Try writing whatever comes to mind. You can organize it later.

Remember to uses rhymes and that you'll need to have a strong beat. If you want help finding words that rhyme, use RhymeBrain.com.

Practice saying your lyrics out loud as you write them to get a feel for how they sound.

Tell members to choose a topic for their rap and then write a list of as many related words or phrases as possible. Then they can choose a few of the most important words and think of a couple words that rhymes with each.

Suggest using RhymeBrain.com. Ask a member for an example word from his or her list and demo using the site so the group can see.

Once members have a good list of words, they can start making lyrics. You may want to suggest that members swap drafts and give each other feedback.


STEP 3
TIME: 15 MINUTES

What Beats Do You Want to Use?

You can make and record your own beats for your rap or you can use beats from Creative Commons. Creative Commons is an organization that allows people to share creativity and knowledge in the form of photos, songs, data, scientific research and more.

For this project, you can use Creative Commons beats and/or audio to mix in with your rap lyrics. You can use the beats/audio to build a full song that includes more than just lyrics. Browse and search the Creative Commons audio library at dig.ccMixter.org. When you find a file that you like, download it and save it to your computer.

Tell members they have the option to use no music with their rap, music they (or a friend) create, or a premade beat from Creative Commons. If they don’t want accompanying music/beats, they can record their rap, after a few practice tries, using Audacity or Soundtrap. If they are going to use live music, a friend can accompany them while they perform, or they can record just the music and then just the lyrics and merge the two tracks in the sound editing software they are familiar with. Lastly, they have the option to download a beat from the Creative Commons audio library at dig.ccMixter.org.

There are a lot of options. As the facilitator you can decide if you want to present all these options to the group, or narrow the focus of the activity and have all members complete it in a similar way. Consider time, the space you have to work in, and not only the age but also the interest level of the members in your group.

If you decided to use Creative Commons, have a discussion about copyright. What do members know about copyright? It can be complex, especially for music. A song's copyright may be owned by the artist, a record label, a publishing company or some combination of those. Copyrighted material cannot be copied, reused, or re-released by other artists/authors, except in very specific circumstances. Using copyrighted work requires permission from the person or company that holds the rights to it. 

The "copyleft" movement was created as a response, and is represented by Creative Commons. Creative Commons materials, licensed with a CC, can be reused or remixed flexibly. Musicians and beat-makers, for example, have released lots of audio content under a Creative Commons license, and more is released daily.


STEP 4
TIME: 30 MINUTES

Record Your Song

Now it is time to record your lyrics using Audacity. If this is the first time you are using Audacity, or if you want a refresher on how to use it, watch this video tutorial or read this guide.

Practice your lyrics a few times before you record so they flow when you sing-read them. When you are ready, record and then play back your rap. Satisfied? You can always re-record.

Since this is an advanced-level project, members should already be familiar with using either Audacity or Soundtrap. Have them record their raps and/or accompanying music.

STEP 5
TIME: 10 MINUTES

How Does It Sound When You Put It All Together?

If you decided to download beats from Creative Commons, retrieve the saved audio files from the web and open them in Audacity. Play around with putting all the files together until you are happy with your finished rap.

Remember, if you get stuck or want help figuring out how to do something, try asking someone or looking it up on the internet. Chances are, someone else has had the same question as you and someone else has answered that question and likely even created a tutorial.

If members have more than one track to merge (for example, one recording of lyrics and another of musical instruments) have them follow this tutorial. Then export the song.

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