Originally Posted by PettyCash
It would be cool if more rap artists were open to starting off work on a song that way. There are great benefits to be had when you establish a concept first, then build around that concept as necessary.
I've found working either way to be just fine, but things seem to come together faster and sometimes end up sounding even better when a song gets built around an existing concept.
Yup. Most rappers at any level don't have strong talents in composition, arrangement, sound choice, etc. Some do but most don't. However, any good rapper is going to have good concepts/song ideas by nature so it a much better place to start when you are making tracks specifically for one person, or, tweaking existing tracks for them.
I really try to train rappers I work with to to mutually develop concepts, not melodies, together. Sometimes that takes an hour of them failing at telling me how they want things as we make a beat.
I also do something I call "conceptual beat making". This applies much more to sample based music. That is having a strong, developed concept in the hook from an existing work that has words with a message. You could do the same if you rap/sing, I don't do either well. That's a good way for them to "get it", even if they don't actually like a specific concept you already developed, they always wish it said such and such. That right their becomes your concept and you showed them how easy it is. Then find/make a beat around that idea, even if it doesn't have any words, they gave you a concept. If you are lucky, you may have a beat with words in the hook section that are similar as well. Simple trick I use to mutually get on the same page.