The following are selected quotes (re-printed with permission from the author) from the book How to Rap 2: Advanced Flow & Delivery Techniques , the sequel to the 2009 release How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC , both by Paul Edwards and published by Chicago Review Press (available on Amazon , Barnes & Noble , and in book stores). Over a hundred MCs were interviewed exclusively by the author for the books.
Alter Egos (Shock G on Creating Humpty Hump)
Shock G, Digital Underground
“Hip Hop Doll” was the first time I tested what later became the “Humpty” voice, and I was actually imitating the Warner Bros frog [Michigan J. Frog, singing “Hello My Baby”], who himself was imitating the oldies pop singer Bing Crosby. I was clear on what I wanted to hear, so I would just do the parts myself to keep from losing it in translation. Humpty [Hump] was a rapper I myself wanted to see and hear, but nobody else was doing it, so I just did it myself. Some experimenting happened before Humpty arrived on the Digital Underground set. It was a gradual evolution; each next feature added a new piece to his eventual look and persona. The voice came first, on [the song] “Hip Hop Doll,” but I only sang choruses with it. Then a few months later I penned “Doowutchyalike” and took the voice a little further by allowing “him” to rhyme this time, since people were feeling the froggy, Bootsy Collins, Slick Rick–meets–Rodney Dangerfield voice. [It’s] absolutely a different emotion [when I’m in character as Humpty]—it’s called the “goopty!” state of mind. And I swear, half of it is in the outfit—put on a loudly colored plaid or polka-dot suit, a tall fur hat, and a nose and glasses disguise, and then watch how differently you rhyme and dance while you wear it!
Writing Specific Songs (“Simon Says,” “Passin' Me By,” “Deep in the Jungle,” “Slam Dunk”)
Before the world heard [the single “Simon Says”], my friends were like, you cannot just fucking be simple, huh? . . . “Itty-bitty-titty committee, pity the fool that acts shitty in the midst of the calm of the witty.” They were like, “It’s too complicated for a chorus!” And I was like, I don’t care. [They were like], the chorus is too long, you should just keep saying, “Get the fuck up” 21 times!
Bootie Brown, The Pharcyde
“Passin’ Me By,” my verse actually came off a cassette tape that I did in a studio. I didn’t go to the big studio and then rerecord and it was all great, I went to the big studio and tried to rerecord and people were like, “Nah, that’s not the same, it doesn’t sound the same!” And I was like, man, I don’t know, I don’t know, and they were like, “Man, we’re just going to use the one off the cassette—that sounds best,” and that’s the one that I used.
Gift of Gab, Blackalicious
[On] “Deep in the Jungle,” me and Lateef and Lyrics just sat down and vibed out and we were talking about we want to make it ill, we want to make it stylistic, we want to make it different, we don’t want it to sound like anything that’s out there, we want it to be completely its own thing. I hadn’t heard nobody rap like that before that. And I did it and I left it alone, I didn’t have to stay with it—I’m a traveler, I’ma create more styles.
Del the Funky Homosapien
With [the song] “Slam Dunk” I think I actually did write on the paper, “Skibbidy doo-dah-day.” I think I did actually write that down. It was planned out—I knew I was gonna say that there. But nowadays, I freestyle a lot of my lyrics, so it allows me to add little stuff like that, more than writing, because writing, I’m more serious, I’m more directed, I’m more looking at the page and how the words connect, which doesn’t always translate well into hearing.