- 10.28.10 - 9:00AM
- - by
- Chris Menning
How to Make an Old White Lady Rap Parody That Doesn't Suck - How to Internet
I saw the video that you and your coworkers put up on Youtube. I'm really proud of you for putting yourself out there, but... how can I say this nicely? If you want people to appreciate the video for what it is, you'll need to understand a couple of basic fundamentals about rhyming and editing.
I get that you're going for kitschy. Being awkward is the point, but it needs to also be palatable. I'm not saying that you have to scrap the rapping granny routine. You just need rhythm.
Now that you've got your head bobbing, try to match the pacing of your words with the tempo of the song. When they don't match, the listening experience as painful as staring directly into the sun, and there's nothing clever, cute or campy about permanent retinal damage.
Notice how the beat fades out completely while the parking lot patrol officer delivers his lines at 0:18? We can only assume that he was so far off beat that this was the only way to salvage his part. But this scenario can be avoided.
While shooting your video, listen to the beat either on headphones or have it playing quietly in the background. Remember the metronome from your childhood piano lessons? Same idea.
Do multiple takes and keep the video rolling. You'll want to have extra space before and after the line for the sake of editing. When you cut your clips together, it's important that one bar is completed before the next begins. Having one bar begin before the last measure has ended is highly distracting for the listener. By recording extra space before and after your line, the editor has some room to nudge the clip backwards or forwards in order to preserve the tempo.
Despite what your friends in the gardening circle might think, rap is music. Each syllable ought to be treated as a note.
Listen to the lines from 0:48-0:57 in the video.
It is time to celebrate.
It is never too late.
Time to educate.
It is our fate so here's the date.
The first line is all right. There are seven syllables and one open eighth note for the first bar, all fitting the rhythm.
The second line has only six syllables where there is space for eight as long as each syllable is equal to an eighth note. This has been accounted for by giving the words "it" and "is" the spacing of a quarter note, which is kind of awkward but still keeps tempo.
The third line is where the problem is really apparent. We're now down to only five syllables to work with. "Time" and "to" have been given quarter note values, but "educate" has been unnecessarily squeezed into the space of a triplet on the third beat of the measure, leaving the last quarter of the measure completely empty. It feels like the bus has gone airborne off the side of a cliff.
The last line has eight syllables once again matching the eight eighths necessary to fill the measure. Curiously, they've also squeezed a couplet inside of one measure. This technique would be great for busting into a double-time verse, but instead they've followed it up with a couple of measures with no lyrics at all.
You might be saying to yourself, "well I'm not a rapper, of course I'm not any good at rapping, and that's why it's funny!"
No. Just no.
It's funny when you see someone you'd never expect to see rapping, and doing it well.
Look at this classic scene from The Wedding Singer. Grandma delivers an astounding rendition of the Sugar Hill Gang's Rapper's Delight. No one expects grandma to have such mad skills, and that's exactly why people are still uploading it to Youtube 12 years later.
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