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What the communications industry can learn from freestyle hip-hop

Copywriting - 5th June 2023
What the communications industry can learn from freestyle hip-hop

Don’t be alarmed, but when I’m not writing white papers or articles for trade media publications, I’ll often be found jotting down hip-hop lyrics.

As my day job became busier, I also found a particularly time-efficient way to continue dabbling in hip-hop lyricism: freestyle rapping.

This essentially involves incorporating words shouted out by an audience into rhymes on the spot.

This is sometimes seen as a surprising sideline for a business copywriter but there’s in fact a strong link between the two disciplines.

For anyone in the creative or communications industry looking to apply fresh perspective to a challenge, I’d encourage you to get outside your comfort zone and start testing your ability to improvise rhymes.

Here’s what you could learn in the process.

Improvising lines and lyrics to deliver inside a business

The clue’s in the name, but freestyle rap is a method of self-expression that trains your ability to think on your feet.

That’s a valuable skill in the communications industry for a few reasons.

By training your ability to trust your subconscious brain, there’s every chance you’ll be able to make a greater contribution to company brainstorms thanks to your readiness to share ideas without needing to overthink every last detail.

For PR professionals pitching stories, the ability to switch to a new angle based on a journalist’s initial reservations might be the difference between an abrupt ending to a conversation and some standout client coverage.

For content writers, being able to quickly steer a client’s initial brief towards a more newsworthy angle can also prove valuable.

These skills are to some extent also related to improv comedy – which creative businesses are increasingly turning to as an offbeat training opportunity.

Perhaps more specific to freestyle hip-hop is the deep focus on language, which is also important in a business context.

Understanding language as a business tactic

For copywriters – or anyone in any communications field – any activity that gets you thinking more deeply about language will exercise the mental muscles that can support you in your role.

Successfully maintaining a freestyle rhyme, even for 30 seconds, will almost certainly involve you deploying some combination of multisyllabic rhyme, assonance, mosaic rhyme and slant rhyme – regardless of your familiarity with those terms. The fact that this mostly happens at a subconscious level doesn’t detract from the fact that freestyling forces you to learn how to more fully realise the creative potential of words.

That’s an excellent habit to get into for a creative professional – whether the day job involves writing a blog that prompts consumers to take action or a press release that grabs the attention of journalists from the headline alone.

Demonstrating a rhyme is very much aligned with presentation time

If you practice freestyling, you develop your ability to consider the musicality and rhythm of words, as well as how varying this can hold the attention of your audience.

You also find yourself in a potentially daunting environment where you are challenged to shed your inhibitions in order to perform effectively in front of an audience.

This translates to the communications world, where you can become a more confident and engaging speaker whether taking part in a new business pitch or meeting with a challenging client.

With that, I encourage you to listen to what this dude is saying and drop the super statements that show true engagement with the idea that freestyle rap can boost any business in communications.

Mic drop.

Ed Parshotam