October 24th, 2013
Here are a few tips for recording a rap artist in your home or project studio.
1. Don’t think of it as recording a “singer.” Recording a singer is quite different from recording a rapper. Rappers use their voices as percussion instruments, and the pop of each syllable needs to be clear and pronounced. Singers use glissando and other techniques, and smoothness is often emphasized. Recording a rapper is not the same as recording a singer, and your mixing and miking technique should reflect the difference.
2. Get a lyric sheet. Home producers must make sure that the lyrics of a rapper can be easily heard, as they’re certainly the most important part of the song. Energy is also very important, so feel free to stop the rapper if he’s not projecting enough confidence or if he’s fudging a few lyrics together. After you’ve recorded one song, listen back to the take before moving on. There may be certain lines that need to be re-done, and if you don’t check carefully before recording another song, microphone placement and other factors can change.
3. Microphone choice. The best microphone for a rap artist is probably a large diaphragm vocal microphone, placed about a foot away from the performer. This will capture all of the percussive sounds of the performer without clipping the mic or getting too much mouth noise. You may need to add a windscreen for extra protection for the microphone. Zero out the signal on the heaviest part of the song to avoid clipping. Remember to work with the performer; he or she needs to be excited about performing. That’s the only way that good energy will carry across on the track.
4. Mixing. A fairly heavy compression effect is good for rappers, because it evens out the his and lows of the performance (volume wise) and makes everything sound more strong. Sometimes, I’ll keep the original rap track and add a doubled version with compression on it. Slight reverb can give depth, but be careful not to make it a noticeable effect. Some rappers double-track their vocals (record the same part twice) to give a the vocal a stronger feel.