This is from my weekly column in Malaysian Today, 'MC Master Class with Zain Azrai.'
10 Dec 2009
A lyric’s emotional impact is proportional to the depth of emotional truth it expresses and how clearly this truth is communicated. An MC must be honest about who he is, what he wants, and why he wants it, his flaws and worst character shortcomings, and understand how his experiences and decisions make him who he is, and communicate this without inhibition to achieve emotional impact.
For example, in ‘Dear Mama,’ Tupac raps, ‘I hung around with the thugs…they showed a young brother love,’ showing one reason why he joined gangs was to get the love and sense of belonging missing from the void left by his father’s abandonment. This openness about fulfilling his emotional needs as a key motivation behind his action makes the song elicit raw emotion.
His language was straightforward, and rhyme structure simple, so it did not distract from his content, smoothening the storytelling.
MCs must also avoid hypocrisy, self-disillusionment and the pretentiousness because this destroys the sincerity necessary for lyrics to grab the heart. How can we empathize with Malaysian rappers who talk about suffering tsunami victims if we know their only experience of the tsunami is from the news and not from personal experience?
Tune in to this blog for a more comprehensive article on how to write rhymes that elicit emotion.
'Writing Emotionally Powerful Rhymes: A Comprehensive Guide.'