A Presentist’s Ten Step Guide
to Making Rap Music
or How to Do This Rap Shit Now
1. Before you have any music, have content, before content, a group of associates with no discernible talents or taste, who will, in some form or fashion, talk about you “making moves.”
2. Get “numbers” by any and all means, including (but not limited to) mass follow-unfollowing, operating an app bot, berating everyone at any party or social function to “exchange” profiles, self-employed marketing through dating apps, etc.
3. In lieu of immediate possession of designer clothing, invest in and/or be sponsored by a marginally less-than-famous streetwear brand, so your uniform enables you to blend in studio sessions, smokeouts, or other flexes while offering nominal variety of logos printed on the same cuts of t-shirts, crew necks, hats, and the like (replace articles incrementally with designer goods as they become available).
4. Immerse yourself in nothing but the musical and internet speak flavor of the month, week, and hour by curated playlist, YouTube “recommendation,” or, god forbid, the archaic device that is FM radio play.
5. Decide what ethnicity you want to be, imitate, or juxtapose yourself against, and how many uses of “ngg” that might require (if designated “nonBlack” assert the right to include as many n-words as possible in your music, so that any criticism of its usage is impractical, as it will be one half or more of the musical content itself).
6. Amass the commitments of several producers, rappers, singers, and musical personalities, as well as an audio engineer you can freely yell at ad nauseum, so the maximal effort you need to exert is no more than 45 seconds on a track’s runtime (if possible, hire a ghostwriter for your limited parts, so you can save mental energy for specifying what to include in riders, for impassioned Instagram story updates, and/or all manner of complaints and reassertions of dominance that need overinflation).
7. Invest heavily in ad-libs, ideally in a ratio of two-to-one (ad-libs to main vocal lyrics), so that any performances booked will allow the pre-recorded vocals to outshine any timidity and lack of presence/personality you might have (and which you will mask as nonchalance).
8. If, and especially if, you have greater aspirations that involve nuance, leveraging celebrity influence, and/or restructuring societal discrepancies (i.e. earning a public health degree to repurpose bubbling rap money and open up clinics in your hometown, providing educational and employment paths for minority youth in tech and business and those in the juvenile justice system, beginning scholarship funds for any number of disadvantaged demographics, etc.) remember that your best tool is being judged at face value in your lyrics with preconceived notions of race, gender, class, and sexuality (even if the voluntary narrowing of yourself and your means seem to contradict your desired ends).
9. If your identity intersects with womanhood and/or any sexual or gender identification that exists in the minority, reconsider all the previous steps, as you will have to work 20 times as hard for one fifth of the results (results defined as followers, cultural gossip, and naturally, streams); be prepared for the totality of your artistic message to be centralized around your “otherness.”
10. If the specter of awaiting mass recognition for your “work” proves too much to handle, consider the following options: make yourself into a living meme, subject to any and all metastasized internet mutations; be embroiled in a well-timed, elongated rollout of a controversy (preferably involving invocations of racist, sexist, homo/transphobic ideas); find yourself incarcerated in the prison-industrial complex long enough, but also briefly enough, to be disenfranchised from electoral privileges and obtain all the credibility that earns you; and/or die suddenly.