1. Tell your own storyOne of the most common things that happens in the hip-hop game is that rappers tend to rap about things they don’t know about. If you’re not a drug dealer, don’t rap about it. If you’re not a gangsta, don’t rap about it. Even the most trill thugs in the world will like your music and respect it, if you’re telling the truth about who you are. Are you a computer geek who excels in college? Rap about that. Are you a gamer nerd that struggles picking up chicks? Rap about that. Not only can people relate more, but it tells a story that may not have necessarily been told through hip-hop yet. Too often hip-hop artists rap the lifestyles of their gangster friends, and while they blow up and become famous off of selling their friends stories, they’re boys wind up dead or serving a prison sentence. Don’t be that guy. Tell your own story. There is still so many things to say in hip-hop that haven’t been said yet. You as an individual are unique, and so therefore, telling the world about you will always automatically set you apart.2. Realize that its workIt’s amazing how many rappers really believe that making it famous is all about money. Yes, it takes a bit of money, but even more powerful than money is your work ethic. While everyone you know is out partying, you should be in the studio. While everyone you know is out getting drunk at the bar, you should be home writing and perfecting your craft. However, don’t think the work solely applies to the making of music. Work ethic also applies to promoting it. You need to be out doing shows, handing out music, working for long hours on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter and building a following. You need to be in constant communication with your fans and always coming up with content for them to check out. Recording a freestyle every few days, shooting a 1 minute video of yourself talking, those are just two of the several things you could be doing in the dead time between pushing a big song or major video production. In a world where attention spans are growing shorter by the millisecond, content is king. It takes serious work to make it in music. It’s harder work than most jobs you could have, but people see it and respect it. The average hip-hop fan wants to know you work hard, because they do too. And, if you expect them to support your music with their hard earned money, you better be working as hard on making your music as they worked on getting that money.3. Respect the DJ, learn how to write hooks.Where I notice so many rappers fail, is making a good chorus. If you have trouble with melodies or singing, than bring a professional writer in to help you with them. bring a singer in and to make one. Nobody wants to hear 4 minutes of a guy rapping or a weird awful sounding repetitious one-liner sang in wildly flat tone. I mean, there are certain places and times for that. Certain people appreciate that, but they are minimal. If you expect to get huge at this rapping shit though, you better make some songs with hooks people want to sing along with and don’t mind hearing over and over again. Go out to a nightclub and listen to the DJ’s. What are they playing? Respect the DJ. The DJ is your friend. The DJ can make or break you in an instant. DJ’s have a boss too, and their boss is a club owner who wants his customers to be happy. Give the DJ something he can use and the DJ will be your best outlet to becoming a name people know.4. Find your own soundI understand your biggest influence is DMX. I recognize your favorite rapper is Eminem. I’m aware that you look up to Lil Wayne. However, there is already a DMX. There is already an Eminem. There is already a Lil Wayne. You know how those guys made it? They made it big by being themselves. If you make music that sounds like someone else, why would anyone want to buy your shit if they can just by theirs? If I am a fan of Mackelmore’s sound, I am going to listen to his music, not some guy who came out after who sounds like him. Find a style of beats that sounds unique, and find a way to create your sound over them. Find a delivery, style and tone that you can create over some innovative beats. Come up with a sound that when someone hears it, they immediately recognize its you. When I hear even 4 seconds of a drake record, I know exactly who it is. Your music should be distinguishable immediately in 5 seconds. If it’s not, you’re doing it wrong.5. Invest in yourselfYou don’t own a microphone, but you own an XBOX ONE. You don’t own a keyboard and a Protools rig, but you own a 70” flat screen TV. You can’t afford a fresh new haircut every two weeks and fly ass clothes, but you can spend $800 a month on cigarettes, alcohol and your weed habit. Get your priorities straight. If you are a rapper, you need to look like one. Which means, you need to look on point every single day. Your hair, your shoes and your clothes need to be poppin’ whenever you go in public. You can’t market your music if you can’t even market yourself. You don’t need diamond chains and platinum accessories. You just need to at least look like someone who gives a shit about who they are, or else why would anyone else? Secondly, you need recording equipment. You need a computer with recording software, a keyboard, a microphone and a pop filter. Take that XBOX ONE and that Flat screen TV and sell that shit. You will never make it in the rap game without sacrifice. Go without your comfort zone and get what you need to make your music. If you are serious about it, show people that. Invest in yourself and what you are trying to do. Nobody believes you really want to be a rapper if you spend 9 hours a day playing Call of Duty. When you invest in yourself, other investors will come. People will take you seriously. Don’t go asking established rappers to help you when you haven’t done anything on your own yet. You’re essentially trying to benefit off of someone else’s hard work and that’s cheating. And, don’t go around asking people for money to help you make music when they haven’t seen you sacrifice a dime of your own yet.6. Stop claiming the industry is against youEvery day I see rappers on social media presenting the argument that they would make it if they just had a record deal like this rapper or that rapper. Every day I hear emcees complaining that radio won’t play them because it’s all a conspiracy that the industry is somehow “hating” on them. Nobody came to their show because the club owner didn’t promote it enough. Here’s the deal: If you’re music is good, it will blow up. It’s really that simple. How often have you heard something that nobody has ever heard that was fire, and then ran to show like 5 other people? Well, that’s how everyone else is too. So if you make some sure fire shit, believe me, it will get out there. As far as radio is concerned, they are a business that wants to make money like everyone else. If there is a huge buzz around your music, the DJ’s have started playing it, and people are sharing it all over the web, the radio will play it. If they know people want to hear it, they will play it. If nobody came to your show, you either suck at making music, or you suck at promotion. It’s YOUR JOB to promote it, not the clubs. If it takes a few extra bucks to promote it and make people aware of it, than spend your money on that rather than drinks at the club every weekend. The industry is not against you. The industry takes good music and introduces it to those who want to hear it. That’s all. Think about that for a second. Good music/those that want to hear it. If the industry isn’t working for you, you don’t make good music that anybody wants to hear. Everybody who starts off rapping wants to believe they are the next 2Pac or Notorious BIG. However, 99% of the time, you just aren’t that good. If it’s not working out, either work extra hard get better or find something else to do. But definitely don’t blame it on a conspiracy.7. Stop rapping about rappingI have heard countless times from emcees that nowadays, only other rappers show up to their shows. I had a kid ask me on facebook last week, “how do I get people who aren’t rappers to come to my shows?” The answer is simple. When you rap all your songs about how good you are at rapping, the only people who relate to that shit are other rappers. The average music fan doesn’t understand what multiple syllable rhymes are. The average music fan doesn’t know what bars are and they don’t care. The average music fan wants to hear some shit that they can relate too like, my job sucks, my bills are high or my girl cheated on me. Sometimes they just want to to hear some fun feel-good shit like I got wasted last night, I’m high as fuck or this party sucks. In any case, they definitely don’t want to hear you rap about rapping and how good you are at rapping. Lyrics like, “I’m the illest, lyricist, sickest with the spitting, Im shitting on every rapper, my delivery is killing’em, my metaphors and similies are so twisted and sickening, Im the master of this rapping, microphone destroyer blah blah blah” Nobody gives a fuck! Well, accept for other rappers. They will either like it because they rap and understand the science behind how lit your verse is, or they will think they are better than you and come to size up the competition. Regardless of their motives, I can tell you that the smoking hot girl from the suburbs who you see dancing at the hottest night club in town, will not be present at your show. Which leads me to my next point.8. Don’t be lyrically trash or too lyrical. Find a happy mediumFirst of all mumble rap has its place. Apparently there is a movement down south that absolutely loves it, but at the end of the day, most people don’t want to listen to music where they can’t even understand a word your saying. So focus on having some sort of lyrical skills in your work. However, do not go the extreme opposite route either, where you are so lyrical the average person still can’t hear what you’re saying. It’s a good thing to find a happy medium. By being just lyrically skilled enough to have credibility you can show the world you have talent. By being just lyrically dumbed-down enough, you can attract a far wider audience by not making them miss every other line in the song. People have jobs, college, kids, family drama and life issues that take up lots of their time. Their brains are strained enough just trying to figure out how to uncomplicate a complicated life. Don’t make them sit there and feel like your song is a god damn calculus math lecture. And, don’t make them feel like they would be more entertained by a Dr. Seuss book, either.9. Diss tracks: Be the Defender; Never the attackerSomebody told me once that a start-up corporation should never launch itself by competing with a giant already established corporation. Why? Because the start-up simply doesn’t have the money or brand power to compete. This analogy applies to hip-hop also, when you consider how many unknown rappers try to diss famous rappers. You merely look like a hater and you’ll never garner any attention because they are famous and you are not. You don’t have the money to compete with Lil Wayne, so stop dissing him. He will never respond and make you famous, so it all falls on deaf ears. All you’re doing is giving rich rappers more free advertisement they don’t need. Secondly, don’t diss anyone. Show love to everyone. Just do you and let the fans decide what’s what. If someone attacks you, than by all means react if you feel it’s worth the reaction. Consider what level of the game they are at and compare it to where you’re at. Ask yourself whether you would benefit by dissing them or if they would benefit. Only respond to them if you would benefit.10. Find something you love to do aside from the music.What makes you, you? Do you love skiing? Skateboarding? Shooting pool? Racing cars? I don’t care what it is that you love to do outside of making music, you should talk about it in your music. By taking something you love to do, that defines you, and incorporating it into your songs, you can literally carve out an entire demographic of people who have the same interests. That demographic can easily be the initial base that launches you to stardom. Identify your hobbies outside of music and rap about them.