So you want to be the next hip-hop superstar. Well you have two options: you can sit around and wait for the industry to recognize and capitalize on your genius, or you can do what many iconic rap artists have done and start cutting your own demos. If you have never recorded a rap song, you may feel confused or even intimidated, but you can get started right this minute even if you have no money to invest in your musical dream.
First, you're going to need some recording software. If you have a newer Mac, you might already have GarageBand (a GREAT recording program for beginners) installed. If you want to get really in depth with your recording and production, you might shell out some cash for a high-end program like Cubase or Logic Pro. If you can't afford the fancy software, or if you just want something easy and straightforward, you might try Audacity. It's simple to use, it's extremely versatile, and best of all, it's totally free. You can download it for Windows or Mac.
Now that you have your software installed, you'll want to hook up your equipment. If you like to record with your own instruments, you can hook them up to your computer using PC instrument cables. For example, music supply stores sell USB guitar cables, USB microphone cables, and more. Even if you don't play an instrument, you might want to invest in a vocal microphone just because it will make a big difference in the quality of your recordings. If you can't afford the vocal mic just yet, don't sweat it. You can use your PC microphone for now.
With everything set up, it's time to lay down some beats. For beginners, the best and easiest way to go is to download audio loops, or samples. A loop is just a short musical recording (usually about 4 to 16 beats in length) that you can repeat as many times as needed and use as musical accompaniment for your rhymes. You can find thousands of free loops at websites like Free Loops, Loopasonic and Looperman. To create original, multi-layered beats, try to find percussion, melody and bass loops. You can layer them together with your recording software. Just read the description for each loop and try to find loops with matching tempos (speeds), so that you don't have to do any complicated editing for now.
When you find some suitable loops, open up your recording software and create some recording tracks. Your “tracks” are those long horizontal spaces on your software window. Each track is like a layer, and most recording programs will let you add as many layers as necessary. For example, you can drag your keyboard melody loop onto track 1, and then drag your deep bass loop onto track 2, and then drag an upbeat kick drum loop onto track 3. If your program only shows one track by default, you should find an option on your menu bar that reads “New Track” or “Create Track.”
Now that you have your original beat, it's time to add some vocals. You will need a new track for your vocals. You'll also need to connect a pair of headphones to your PC. This will allow you to monitor your beat and rap in time with the music, while still achieving a clean, uninterrupted vocal recording. Put on your headphones, place your cursor at the beginning of the song and click “Record” (most programs use a red circle as the “Record” symbol). When you finish recording your rhyme, click “Stop.” When you finish the song, just click (File > Export) or (File > Save as Audio File) on your menu bar. You now have an original rap song.