6 Steps on How to Write Songs by Shanti Dope

Graphics by Jillian Bueno

You’ve probably heard the lyrics “sikretong malupet, puwedeng pabulong?” and “nadarang na naman sa iyong apoy” somewhere in your area. They’ve been turned into memes, and played at house parties and bars to the point that once anyone hears those lines, they immediately start turning up.

When I first heard these songs,  I was fairly surprised to hear that it was by Shanti Dope. The 17-year old rap phenom has been making waves for the past eight months; the public has definitely taken notice.

Last July 25, Shanti had a press conference to celebrate the success that he has reached. Entitled Shanti2020, the event signified the 20 million hits that he now has on Spotify and on YouTube.

The media asked a variety of questions ranging from how he got his name (Shanti means ‘peace’ in Indian), his dream collaborations (KZ Tandingan and Julie Ann San Jose), and his ultimate showbiz crush (Liza Soberano. Yep, we weren’t really that surprised). He was very  game in answering all of the questions, but the resounding ones were “What is your songwriting process?” and “How do you come up with such creative lyrics?” Here are his steps to writing a song.

6 Steps on How to Write Songs by Shanti Dope

Get inspiration from different people.

Shanti very quickly gives credit to his producers for helping him make his lyrics by having a type of “storytelling” session. “Parang brainstorming session siya kung saan madalas na usapan namin nung producer ko kung anong klaseng kanta babagay sa beat na binigay sa akin,” [It’s like a brainstorming session where I talk to my producer about different songs that suit the beats that he gives me,] he says about the start of his writing process.

Listen to the beats.

Pagkatapos namin mag-brainstorm, pinapakinggan ko ‘yung mga beats na binibigay.”  [After we brainstorm, I listen to the beats that they give.] He notes that the type of beats that he gets usually dictates the type of song he writes/produces. Since he thought the beat for “Nadarang” was a little slow, for example, he went on to write lyrics about falling in love and getting burned in the end.

Just keep writing.

Shanti says this is one of the most important parts of his process as this allows him to map out the flow in his songs. While writing his self-titled song “Shanti Dope”, he kept writing to ensure that he pleases his audience and himself at the same time.

Do not take breaks once you’ve started.

Shanti does not believe in taking long breaks in-between songwriting because he thinks this will disrupt the vibe and drive that he has going on. He says he has to be 95% satisfied with his songwriting and recording sessions before he even thinks of taking a break.

Find inspiration in real life situations.

People asked how and where he got the inspiration for his hit song “Mau” and he was a bit hesitant to answer it because of the lyrics that he included; but after a couple of seconds, he said that “Nilabas ko ‘yung kakulitan ko kaya ganoon ‘yung kinalabasan. Kumukuha lang ako ng inspirasyon mula sa totoong buhay pero layunin ko lang talaga magpa-good vibes at mukhang natupad ko naman iyon.” [I released my real self; that’s why it came out that way. I got inspiration in my actual life, but I really just wanted to share some good vibes and it looks like I did just that.]

Be true to yourself.

After all that, Shanti stresses that the song and lyrics that he produced should be what he wants them to be because that is what makes him unique and allows him to tell stories that are completely his own. “Iyon talaga ang pinakamahalaga sa isang rapper at artist eh,” [That’s the most important part of being a rapper and an artist], he says of keeping yourself different from other artists.

Are you an aspiring songwriter or artist? Share some of your own tips with us!

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