Friday, September 25, 2015

Learn How to Write Your First Rap

RED Hearts: Write Your First Rap!

September 24, 2015

RED Hearts are guest posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today.

Today's RED Hearts is from Zulay Regalado, 26, in Miami, who's not only a good writer, but also a pretty dope rhymer:
I can now say that I have added world-renowned rapper to my resume.

OK, maybe at the moment it’s only office-renowned. But I recently discovered my inner rapper while trying to come up with a memorable way to deliver a message with my team at Clicc Media Inc. Instead of writing a traditional blog post, we wanted something catchy and entertaining. This led us to think, Why not a rap song? It’s a modern form of poetry after all, so you can let your artistic side run wild.

Whether to craft a message at work—or just to crack up a friend—making your own one-of-a-kind rap video can be quick and easy. (Also know that a beautiful singing voice is not required; you can talk your way through this one.) Besides, you’re the director, too. Keep at it till you have a take you’re ready to share.

Here are five simple steps for the starter rapper:

1. Come up with a story and purpose. All the best rap songs tell a story, or at least have a clear purpose. Start out by knowing how your story begins and ends. I once created a birthday rap song for a friend because, really, who doesn’t love a birthday rap song? (This is also a special just-for-you gift idea that they’ll definitely remember!)

2. Find a catchy beat. I chose an old-school hip hop song as inspiration. Not sure how to select a beat? Start by taking your favorite song, rap or not, and mixing it up with lyrics of your own.

3. Write to the music, write in real-time. Listen to the beat as you write. This will help you maintain rhythm—and also inevitably lead to ideas. Write them down as they come to you. If you can’t use a particular detail in the line at hand, it’s likely you can work it in somewhere later.

4. Bust a rhyme (or don’t). Although the lyrics of most rap songs rhyme, there’s no rule that they have to. First, try saying what you want to say without the rhyming element, which might be enough. From there—if you find you’re the kind/ like I’m/ who needs to rhyme/ all the time—you can always use a tool like Rhyme Zone to help.

5. Memorize! Learn it, own it, practice it before you turn your awesome song into an awesome video. You can even show off your new talent by putting on a show for friends. (Bonus points if you can bring someone else in and they challenge you to a rap battle.)

Please, take inspiration—or at least laugh, lessen your beginner’s intimidation—from my debut effort here. Promise to remember you all when my future album goes platinum.

Peace Out,

Learn to Write Your Own Rap

Monday, August 31, 2015

Razorhurst by Justine Larbelestier

Kelpie has been on her own for most of her life. She has vague memories of her childhood, but the street life in Razorhust is her home. She's been fortunate, getting help from people in the city...whether dead or alive. Kelpie lives on the streets of Razorhurst, a part of Sydney divided between two gangsters, their henchmen, and a beautiful moll. And it's when Kelpie steals into a home she shouldn't have that her world completely changes.

Looking at the murder scene was rough enough, but now the ghost of is following her. What's more, Kelpie is being used as cover by Dymphna, who thought she was smart enough to leave gang life, or at least take over. With the law prohibiting guns in Australia in the 1930s, everyone thought gang violence would wane, but razors came out, just as deadly.

Dymphna and Kelpie are polar opposites. Called the "Angel of Death" because all of her boyfriends end up dead, Dymphna is well taken care of by Gloriana Nelson, who considers her one of her most valuable assets. Beautiful, well-coifed and dressed, Dymphna exudes glamour, although her path in life is far from glamorous. Kelpie, on the other hand, is small, looking more like a child (although she's a teenager), fiercely (or perhaps ferally) independent, and hasn't known the inside of a bath tub in a long time. And while they may be different, they share one very important thing in common-they both can hear and see ghosts...

They're now both on the lam. Mr. Davidson, one gang leader, is stalking Dymphna, where his stalking has very serious undertones. Gloriana is also searching for her, for reasons she doesn't have to explain. And friends of Kelpie's are also following her, trying to make sure both she and Dymphna stay alive. But is that possible in a cat and mouse game of the 1930s, where lawlessness abounds and innocent lives are considered a small loss in the pursuit of glory, power and control?

What makes this book such a standout is how Justine Larbelestier creates a dual-genred novel (both supernatural and historical fiction) that wraps itself around real history and biographies of Australia and Australians in this book. Readers will not only get caught up in the storyline but also begin to make connections and differences between both the U.S. and Australia and how gangsters shaped the country. Although this book is filled with male characters, both good and bad, it's the two females that create the strength in this novel. Larbelestier uses the ghostly characters as a backdrop to further strength Kelpie's and Dymphna's character flaws and attraction. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and consider it a strong historical fiction novel for YA.

Monday, July 27, 2015

CONVICTION by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Richie’s Picks: CONVICTION by Kelly Loy Gilbert, Hyperion, May 2015, 352p., ISBN: 978-1-4231-9738-6

“Alex is a senior and he plays second base for La Abra, so I’ve played against him all my life. La Abra churns out good players, Latino kids who make you wonder if they’re lying about how old they are, but Alex is just mediocre and I wouldn’t think much of him if it wasn’t for this: despite his .249 average, he’s not an easy guy to strike out, and I’ve never been able to figure out why.

I’ve talked to him exactly once, when I was twelve and we were both at an umping clinic for Little League, and they had breakfast for us there and he ate his cereal with juice. I sad it was gross, and he shrugged and said maybe I was jealous. But he didn’t say it like he was defensive or like he was joking around and wanted to be friends; he said it like what I’d said just didn’t affect him at all. To be nice, I said, ‘I’m Braden,’ and he said, ‘I know who you are.’ Then he said, ‘You’re a good pitcher,’ only he said it matter-of-factly, not as a compliment, and I didn’t know what to make of that.

I read the stats with his name four times over until the words start to lose their meanings. Then I shut the computer, fast.

It’s twelve more weeks until we play La Abra. I hope that’s enough time to figure out how I’m supposed to get up on a mound and face the nephew of the cop my dad’s accused of killing.”

CONVICTION is a powerful and sometimes horrific teen tale. Braden Raynor is the star pitcher at a high school in California’s Central Valley. Last year, as a junior, he threw a perfect game as his school won the state championship. If Braden can stay healthy and focused, he has the talent to go pro after high school or college.

Given Braden’s father, that’s a big if.

Braden’s birth resulted from his father’s one-night stand with a barely-legal young woman. His father is now a well-known religious radio broadcaster. But at the time of his parents’ liaison, his father was “a ruined ex-minor leaguer who drank too much and had a custodian job at the radio station.” He was already single-parenting one son, Trey, who couldn’t stand his father for reasons that we will come to understand.

When Braden was four months old, his mother took him to his father’s door. She told the unknowing father that Braden was his, left the baby there, and moved to L.A., hoping to become a dancer.

Baby Braden’s arrival in the household was responsible for a temporary truce between half-brother Trey--twelve years older than Braden--and their volatile father. Now, eighteen years later, Trey has been long estranged from their father and long gone from California. But with their father incarcerated and awaiting trial on charges of deliberately driving over a police officer during a traffic stop, Braden is parentless. To protect Braden from being consigned to a group home, Trey has temporarily returned to stay with Braden in the house from which he long ago escaped.

There’s suspense in the story that kept me turning the pages: Braden was with his father on that evening when the fatal incident occurred, and anxiously waited to hear the young man’s perspective on what really happened. Day by day, Braden works his way through the team’s baseball season and toward the day that he will have to testify at his father’s trial.

Braden’s version of Christianity, influenced by his father and by their local religious community, is a big factor in the story. On one hand, these communities provide admirable support for Braden during this nightmare of a senior year. On the other hand, many of the beliefs and prejudices of Braden, his father, some of his baseball teammates, and his religious community remind me why there is so much discord in America over social and political issues.

The excitement and vivid details of Braden’s pitching make CONVICTION a first-rate sports story. The darkness of the parent-child relationships and the theme of a young person trying to find balance between family ties and his own way in life make it a powerful contemporary YA read. I’m sure glad I read it.

Richie Partington, MLIS

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