An Amateur's Guide to Making High-Quality Rap Videos: Jewelry, Fashion & More
On August 1st, 1981, the world of music changed forever when MTV launched the video for “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. From this moment on, teenagers found themselves glued to the television set, waiting for their favorite music video to finally play on the first-ever 24-hour music video station.
Decades later, videos have become a normal part of the music industry and MTV has shifted away from its original programming entirely. But, with other huge advancements in technology, rising stars and aspiring rappers have the ability to create their own music videos right at home. Thanks to the popularity of YouTube, these homemade videos have sometimes captured the attention of millions, leading the original creator to newfound stardom. Remember Bobby Shmurda?
If you’re thinking about creating your own dope new video, then you’re going to need to read up on some of these tips. Planning your video and ensuring that you have all of the right materials and props will help you create something totally unique and attention-capturing. Break out your best rapper chains and get to work!
Tips on Making a Rap Music Video
Create a Budget
Before you can begin doing any type of planning for your rap video, you will absolutely need to create a budget for yourself. It’s very easy to drop too much dough on unnecessary items simply because you get wrapped up in the production process, and you may start making impulsive decisions. You need to determine a reasonable budget that you can afford—you don’t want to go broke over a video that may not even make it past the computer screens of your grandma and a few random cousins.
Write your budget down. Use a spreadsheet to record what items you need to buy (i.e., videography equipment, lighting, potentially paid actors, props, etc.) and research average prices for every item that you deem a necessity. Not all videos will need every item mentioned.
You may want to save money by only filming outside, meaning you won’t need to purchase professional lighting. Maybe one of your friends or family members has a nice camera they’re willing to let you borrow. Try to find ways to save money when possible, so you can ball out on things like your outfits and jewelry.
Find a Talented Videographer
If you’re the main attraction, you should not be trying to film the video and be in the video at the same time. It’s far too much work, and you need an outside perspective on how each shot will look or how it can be improved. If you know anyone with camera experience, try to recruit them to work on your project.
Some people who get involved with your music video may be expecting to get paid, so be sure you discuss this beforehand and factor any payments into your budget as well. Paying someone with professional videography experience will be worth the money, in the long run, as the better the video looks (and is edited), the more likely it is to attract attention.
Choose the Right Song
Without a dope song, your music video will flop. And, the key to a great rap song is all in the beat. If you already have a handful of songs mixed, ask your friends for their opinion on which would be the best option for a music video. You want the song that appeals to the most people, as it has a better chance of being a hit.
If you’re still working on music but planning to create a video in the future, then focus on the beat. A creative beat will get everyone’s head nodding. Thoughtful, aggressive, or relatable lyrics also play a major part in the song’s reception, particularly if you’re trying to talk about a serious subject, but, when it comes to making a radio banger, the beat is the foundation of the song’s success. Pick a song that you think people can vibe to that also can be represented visually.
Write a Script
Every music video needs a script, even if it’s a loose one. The script will pull your entire idea together and let the cameraperson and actors know when and what they should be doing. You should write several drafts of your script before finalizing the details and passing it out to your crew.
Writing a video script is no easy task, so, if you’re not an avid writer, you’ll want to enlist the help of your more creative friends. Pick an idea that makes sense with the song you’re planning to make the video for and try to focus on inciting an emotional response from your audience, whether you’re making them sad or wanting to party along with you and the homies in your video.
Recruit Actors, Dancers, and Extras
A music video featuring no one except the artist is seriously lame. Although the video is about you in some regard because it is your song, the video should tell a story that relates to what you’re speaking about in the song.
If the single that you’ve selected to make a video for doesn’t have a particularly deep meaning (maybe it’s more of a party anthem), then it’s your job to make the visuals interesting. People won’t care about mediocre lyrics if the beat is bumpin’ and the video is aesthetically pleasing. But, in order to make your music video and dope as possible, you’ll need people who are willing to be in it.
The type of people you’ll need will depend entirely on your script for the video. Start recruiting dancers, actors, and others to fill in specific scenes, and be sure to have them wearing and choosing the best hip hop chains as props for the shoot.
Determine Your Shooting Locations
The shooting location is one of the most important things to consider because this is going to be the backdrop for your entire video. It’s important to make this video entirely your own, especially if you’re trying to showcase why you, as a rapper, are unique, but some ideas of places to shoot a rap video include the local skate park, an abandoned building, near graffiti murals, or in a wide recognized destination.
For example, Santa Monica Boulevard is a pretty common place for people to shoot a video because it’s beautiful, there’s a lot of action going on in the background, and it’s a place that people can identify with. Consider areas in your town or places where you can take a day trip to get some great shots for your video. You’ll probably have a few different shooting locations, but try to restrict yourself to three areas max, as filming at each location is a lot of hard work.
Invest in the Right Accessories
Okay, you’ve figured out your budget, you’ve assembled your crew, and you’ve determined your location. Now, you need to make sure that you have all the right accessories to make this video as high quality as possible. You may write a dope script for a video that goes to an even doper song, but, if the video and audio quality aren’t up to par, no one is going to take notice.
Find out more about your videographer’s camera, especially if this person is your friend. Be sure that he or she has everything they need to film and inquire about any additional lens, tripods, or other accessories they might need to capture the perfect footage.
If you’re not going to rely on natural light, you will need to invest in lighting, which is relatively inexpensive but necessary for creating quality content. Filming inside almost always requires a simple lighting setup, but outdoor shooting can be done with nothing more than natural light if you’re filming at the appropriate time.
Set Aside Plenty of Time to Film
Just because your song only runs for three minutes, it does not mean you’ll be able to get your entire music video filmed in one shot. It’s much more likely that you’ll have to edit the film down from multiple takes.
Capture Plenty of B-Roll Footage
B-roll footage is a term used to describe shots that are used in between the main shots to supplement the video. In a rap video, the B-roll can include slow-motion shots of girls jumping into a pool, the homies laughing with each other, close-ups of expensive cars, rows of Rolex watches for men—anything that sets the tone of the video but doesn’t interfere with the main shots that focus on the rapper (or the main character of the video).
Having extra B-roll is important because it provides you with additional footage that can be spliced in to make the video long enough and more appealing to its viewers.
Research Good Editing Programs
Half of what makes a video great is the script and the filming. The other half is good editing. If you’ve never edited a video before, you should definitely spend a lot of time researching and watching other videos on how to edit and which programs to use. Anyone making a rap video who has a friend with even minor experience in editing may want to ask for some help, as the way that they cut scenes together and transition from different shots will make or break your video. Try playing around with different programs until you find one that works for you.
Market Your New Video
Blast it on your Instagram page, share it on Facebook, use YouTube SEO tactics—anything you can do to get the word out about your new video is extremely important. Ask your friends to share it, as well, to help get as many views as possible. Once your video starts gaining attention, you may even be able to make money off of YouTube ads.
But, marketing is hard work, especially for a music video. You should have a Facebook and Instagram business account for your rapper page. With the business account, you can use sponsored ads to target people that have similar interests. This is one way to expose more people to your new video, but it does cost money.
Props for a Dope Rap Video
The four traditional pillars of any rap video are the cars, clothes, girls, and bling. Of course, not every single rap video ticks all of these boxes, which is sometimes what makes them stand out from the rest. If this is your first time making a rap video, you may want to borrow some of these usual elements to fit in with the genre.
Part of hip hop culture is stunting everybody by showing off your flashiest gold chains iced-out with diamonds and your most expensive cars, which is why so many music videos include these material possessions. The point of these over-the-top props is to exhibit a certain level of status and success based on how much money you’re able to spend on trivial items like jewelry and cars.
For your small-budget, first-time rap video, it’s unlikely that you’re going to have a whole fleet of expensive Range Rovers and Lambos as back-up props, but, even if you have a friend or a family member with one really nice car, you can ask to feature it in the background and have it lend you some desirable rapper credibility.
Get your lady friends and homies in on the fun, too, by asking if they want to be extras in the video showing off their rap video party vibe. Sexy girls and dudes in expensive jewelry and clothes are just two more motifs you often see in rap videos, but don’t feel confined to following exactly what other rappers do. Let your creativity shine through.
The Next Best Thing
Now that you’ve read up on what it takes to make a rap video, it’s time for you to get out there and start experimenting. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries before you create something really great—greatness takes time. For all of your rapper chain needs, be sure to check out Frost NYC’s collection of chains, pendants, watches, and rings. We’ll have you lookin’ fly as hell in your next video.