Rap music is no longer just for the streets of urban America. Originally known for its tough lyrics about street life, many rap songs have been absorbed into pop music. Rap performers have traditionally been young men but there is no age requirement. Becoming a rapper at the age of 13 is no different than doing it at any other age. The main idea is to get a record deal.
Learn to rap. This is obviously the first stage in the process. Listen to lots of rappers. Develop your own personal style and tastes. Learn how to keep verbal rhythm and write rhymes that sound like your own style and not anyone else’s.
Develop a persona. Hip-hop and rap are a lifestyle. Like developing a vocal style that is all your own, your personality has to be all your own.
Develop relationships with established rap artists, if possible. Join their fan clubs or follow them on social networking sites. Use any friend or acquaintance that you can think of that might have access to the artist. The rap community is not that big. If you can get one of them to vouch for you, it will be easier for the public to accept you as an artist and not just a gimmick.
Perform at local parties or shows. Build up as much of a fan base as possible. Street credibility is essential for any aspiring rap artist. By this time, it is likely that you will have acquired a manager who will help assist you with the "business" aspect of becoming a rapper such as booking gigs and recording demos.
Record a demo. Hire the best producers and engineers you can afford to create the best demo track possible. Most artists and repertoire executives will only listen to a demo for a few moments so the more reason you have to give them a longer listen, the better. You don't always have to pay a producer to create tracks for you. Many producers will work with you if they think you're talented. You will have to pay for a recording engineer. Alternatively, you could record the demo on home equipment, but the lower the quality of the recording, the lower your chances of getting someone to listen to it.
Contact the rap music label's artists and repertoire representatives. Email, call, telephone and visit the executives in person. Do whatever you can to get the attention of these executives. A 13-year-old does not have the opportunity to socialize in the nightlife that most A&R executives are accustomed to frequenting. Getting their attention will require extra effort.
Create a website. Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace are are essential to building an Internet presence. Uploading your music to YouTube is also a good way to promote your music. Similar to performing at clubs and parties, the main objective is to build a fan base. The more people you can introduce to the music, the better. If possible, sell your music through the website.
Sell your music on the street. Hip-hop has always been based in street culture and “street credibility” remains essential in its success. Like selling music on a website, actual street sales will also improve an artist's appeal.
Sign a record deal. This is the hardest and most elusive thing to do. Make sure that you have a trustworthy manger or agent, such as your parents, and an excellent attorney.
Based in Los Angeles, Ty Wright has written professionally since 1993, working primarily in film and television. His articles have appeared online at MadeMan. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in film and electronic arts from California State University, Long Beach.