Hip-hop has three important parts: lyricism, flow, and production (or beats). To be truly successful, all three of those parts need to be on point. However, in the era of infinite music and variety, some musicians find success just by shining their talent in one of those pieces to the puzzle.
Here’s how Mac Lethal gained fame by playing to his strengths.
1. He took advantage of an opportunity set forth by another artist.
Busta Rhymes is well known for his “dice-roll” technique, in which he raps with incredible speed and still follows a rhythm. He even issued a challenge in his music video for “Why Stop Now” for YouTubers to match his flow.
The video got more than two million views, showing that there is a real audience out there for people who can rap quickly. Mac Lethal took full advantage of this trend.
2. He practiced his flow to perfection.
Lyricism and production could wait. Mac Lethal’s talent with fast rapping was great, and he knew that there was an audience for it. He began producing videos of his talent, all the while getting better and better.
Now, Mac Lethal’s flow is so near perfect that he is one of the greatest of his kind. His audience watches him for one thing, and he is fully aware of that.
3. He released strategically trendy videos.
In 2011, at the height of the fast rapping trend, he made a video covering “Look At Me Now” that reached 36 million views. The video pokes fun at the trend, calling himself out as a “nerdy white kid.” In the video, he is making pancakes, adding another layer of ridiculousness and nonchalance.
To this day he still follows trends, his most recent video being a rap about fidget spinners that continues for the duration of one spin.
Mac Lethal is a perfectionist, but what he is doing isn’t unique to hip hop. If a musician is particularly good at one aspect of a genre or instrument, they should play to that strength. Always practice and work to get better at what you’re already good at, and people will begin to recognize you for it.
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Gabriel Dufurrena is a mathematician, writer, and educator living in Oakland, CA. When he’s not watching YouTube videos or teaching math, he’s getting into shenanigans with his other writer friends.