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Default How to : Write a Topical Verse
by Erupt da Monsta 10-04-2012, 02:28 PM

. OVERVIEW

Introduction (1:1). This tutorial is designed to help you improve or establish your skills as a lyricist, as well as ways of analysing and interpreting other peoples' lyrics when voting. The first thing to be established is that there is no ONE clear way of doing anything; this tutorial will provide a basis of knowledge from which you can form your own opinions and styles.

Too many people see rap as a trend, but without the natural inclination or ability to write (let alone rap) it takes a lot of effort and luck to develop anything worthwhile. This isn't stage battling, this isn't freestyle - here you have the opportunity to further develop what you want to say. At the same time, an entirely new style has spawned online where people are now writing lyrics that are overly-prepared and the end result is forced, formulaic and ineffective. Keep whatever you write natural. If it doesn't read naturally it'll lose half its effect; do whatever comes naturally to you: writing off the top of the head, writing in stages, thinking up concepts and then putting them all into writing, etc.

Everything works best in balance. You should look to find balance in your style in order to get the most out of your writing. This can apply to any and everything: balance between wit and imagery, rhyme and description, flow and message, etc. The key is to maintain a balance; but make it YOUR balance - even if there are "better" ways to write than others, everyone adopting one style would in turn degrade that style itself. Don't be afraid to think outside the box, but do whatever you do maintaining balance, as it is essential.

2. FLOW AND STRUCTURE

Introduction (2:1). People seem to think when it comes to writing lyrics flow isn't important. What originally began as writing your rap lyrics down on the net evolved into "text" - something completely different - where structure and flow was almost entirely sacrificed in order to string together longer rhymes and more wordplays. Style IS 100% relative, but it's simple fact: if you're writing rap and it doesn't flow then it isn't really rap. Instead of rapping and writing down the lyrics, or writing to rap, people now seem to write to meet certain criteria to get votes or positive response and praise for their pieces, as an entire false value has been built up around syllables and wordplays (to be addressed further in the BATTLING section). Remember it's quality, not quantity.

Flow (2:2). Your flow should be rhythmic and cohesive. Line lengths can't be "specified" as that really depends on what style you rap with, but try and keep lines relatively short. 10-15 syllables per line is a rough estimation just to give you an idea, but there is no restriction to what you do with your lines, as long as they come together cohesively. For instance, you can have one short line proceeded by a longer one, which is a common feature of punchline rap, where the punchline comes in the second line and is given more build up to it, you can also reverse the effect, having a longer first line and a shorter second one, using the abruptness to intentionally increase impact of the line.

To maximize the effectiveness of your flow it's best to rap it back to yourself. Not talk, but rap, as that is the only way to determine if it sounds right. And if you can't rap, why are you trying to write it? After a while you won't need to rap back lyrics, you will be able to skim over them and know how they sound. Also remember the issue of pronunciation; this is written rap so obviously with different accents things can't be helped - but on the issue of pronunciation of words, make sure what you write has stresses on the right syllables in the word, so then anyone can read it back and have it flow smoothly.

Structure (2:3). Try and structure your verse so it's easy to read. Don't change colours too alternatively, don't worry about decorating a verse with dashes, stars, caps or quotes. Obviously you may freely use any, as it is your choice, but generally, keep them limited and let the verse speak for itself. Keep lines together so it's easy to read from one to the other, adding single-line breaks wherever appropriate. Keep your flow continuous throughout one verse; keep bar lengths consistent. To keep cohesion in the verse try transitional rhymes (continuing a rhyme scheme from the previous line into the next), continuous rhyme (maintaining the same rhyme scheme over 4 lines and more), and also, keeping the message consistent; don't shift from one topic to another too abruptly as it disrupts the continuity of the verse.

Rhyme (2:4). One of the most common ways to assist your flow and structure in rap is rhyme. Rhyme is the essence of rap; it's what separates rap from spoken word. Rap is about saying what you want to say and finding inventive ways to rhyme it, expanding vocabulary, and the entire flow and feel of a verse can be created by the rhyme scheme. Multis are multiple rhymes, this means more than one rhyme per-line. The idea of multis is to enhance and emphasise the flow in rap. Rhymes act as pillars to support the flow of each line, the more you have, often, the more a line flows.

Now that the importance and effectiveness of rhyme has been expressed, it must be said how important it is to do it right. As mentioned already, clash of accents is unavoidable, but do not force syllables to rhyme. The idea of rhyme is to be seamless and to keep the flow in motion, forcing rhymes has the opposite effect and you'd almost be better off not rhyming at all. Make sure when rhyming words that the syllable stress is in the right place; that's not to say you can't twist the language to make things rhyme, that's done often in rap, but as this is written, you need to be able to find a way of typing the re-pronunciation of the word, and even so, don't twist words sparingly, as it would get annoying to read. Make sure your rhymes make sense, don't put words in rhyme just so they can rhyme, they should be there for a purpose and always be relevant. Don't force concepts in lines just to make a rhyme work on the end of it. If a rhyme isn't coming together for you, re-word it so you have a different, hopefully easier rhyme to work with. Don't put more syllables in a rhyme than you can manage. It's nearly always better to keep rhyming syllables around 2-4 rather than 4-6, as stylistically, it ends up reading and flowing better, and it's easier to maintain coherent content as well.

The other key issue in rhyme is syllable stress. When rhyming multiple syllables the stressed syllables can't mismatch, can't sound too different. The vowel sound should be identical, the consonants should be similar if you can help it (e.g. Bs and Ds, Ks, Gs and Ts, Fs and T-Hs) that's a very specific way of looking at it, but when rhyming you'll be able to see how it sounds. Vowel idiosyncrasy is vital, consonants don't HAVE to match as assonance/para-rhyme is often used and used well in rap, but the better something comes together the better. Unstressed syllables don't really need to rhyme at all. Also, when rhyming multiple-syllables, avoid using the same word twice. Obviously joining words in the middle of rhymes like of, the, on, and, etc. are acceptable, but as a rule of thumb, don't repeat words UNLESS of course it's for deliberate effect. Repetition, when used correctly, is effective in any form of writing, rap included.

3. WRITING

Introduction (3:1). "Writing" is a broad term, in this context it's referring to any rap you write that isn't in battle. In this sense the writing can be of a song, a diss, or a topical piece. Whatever it is, the key is to be focussed on the purpose of the piece and to fulfil that purpose when writing it.

The key is practice; people often write keystyles just to experiment with punchlines, concepts, story-telling, rhymes, flows, structures etc. The best tip for improvement is practice; take advice into account and continually practice till you develop a style that comes naturally to you and is effective in doing what you wish to do with your writing. Writing songs (verses and hooks structured in song format) seems futile unless you're putting it to record, but if you do choose to, treat it as you would a topical verse; maintain focus on the subject, try and find the balance between subtle and direct effect, keep it continuous and cohesive. When writing disses, remember you have no restrictions as you do in battle, be creative with it, don't necessarily work systematically in punchlines, try different approaches.

Elements (3:2). Rap is literary. When thinking of it that way, don't be afraid to think outside the box when writing, to increase the effect of your message, use literary techniques like simile and metaphor. Like rhymes and syllabic rhythm assist the flow, simile, metaphor, etc can help assist your message.

Simile: Simply a comparison. Often used for dramatic effect, to compare one thing with something more dramatic to emphasise what you're trying to say. Also used poetically and to create imagery by referencing things we've all seen or sensed in some way before.

Metaphor: A figure of speech where one word or more usually associated with one meaning are given a second. This makes a different sort of comparison, it's un-literal and more abstract. Metaphors can be sustained throughout a piece, for example comparing the world to a stage is a classic Shakespeare metaphor, but then metaphors can also be short and sweet to give a sort of punchline effect.

There are other methods such as repetition and alliteration which are often overused due to their simplicity, but used right can be very effective. There are other touches you can add to your writing, but essentially you are free to do whatever you want, the only objective is to do it well, therefore not much more can be "taught", merely practised and perfected.

4. BATTLING

Introduction (4:1). Many of the points from the OVERVIEW section apply to battling. This isn't freestyle or stage battling; more creativity and originality is expected, yet it should read and flow naturally. Entertainment isn't the biggest factor as it may be on stage, you have to hit your opponent hard, but that's not the only requirement to win a battle, and there are different ways to do this. You can big yourself up in order to diminish your opponent, you can use wordplays to lyrically attack your opponent, you can get personal, you can use humour. It should be made clear all the principles of FLOW AND STRUCTURE apply to battling, and are equally important. No matter what punching potential you have, if it doesn't flow and is structured poorly that nearly always takes away from how effective the punch could be.

Efficiency (4:2). One thing in battles is that you need to use your lines efficiently. Generally if your verse is 16 lines or less, that is a short battle. You should adapt accordingly depending on the length of your battle. In a shorter battle you need to throw direct and effective punchlines to win. Over longer battles, say 24 or 32 lines, you're given a little more room to work with, where you can perhaps work a more subtle or less systematic offence whereby you may continually put down your opponent without throwing punches for a short period. The smoothness of your writing is important, disses should flow naturally, lyrical skills are a big advantage - but impact upon your opponent is key above all else - so through whichever method, make sure you deliver enough of an offensive with the lines given to win the battle.

Wordplay (4:3). Wordplay is a main attribute of punchlines; it's essentially double meaning for witty or hard-hitting effect. In battle, it's best to use wordplay to direct disses toward your opponent. You can also try merging two or more words together to create a different word and use a double-meaning in that way to create the punchline. Wordplay is invaluable in battle as it can be used on its own in a punchline or combined with personals, as well as combining it with current or historical events that would appeal to the audience, this gives your verse a hard-hitting effect and appeal.

The key with wordplay, as with rhyme, is not to force it. For example if you are trying to merge words to make a different word, for a punchline, if they don't sound the same, don't try to work the concept, because it will be ineffective. Also, when wording your wordplays, make sure you get tenses and grammar as accurate as possible. We all know Rap isn't renowned for good grammar, but when attempting wordplays, if the grammar isn't consistent the line doesn't make sense. Don't try and fit in any more wordplay than is needed, and when using wordplay as personal references (more on personals below), make the references relevant in attacking your opponent. Relevance is key for all content you draw on to use in a wordplay punch. If it's irrelevant it's ineffective in dissing your opponent.

Personals (4:4). First and foremost, attacking in a battle, you should look to get personal. Attack your opponent personally in any way possible. You can flip their attributes and personal info, such as their signature, avatar, record, (real) name, age, location and more. Name flips are the most common of these to be used. It is vital though that you don't use personal information that is irrelevant or ineffective in insulting or humiliating your opponent, as if you do so it looks like a desperate attempt to punch. Other personals usable against someone are things they have said to you or others on the board, or things they've done, if you come across anything humiliating which you feel can make a good punch, then use it. Not all punches need wordplay, particularly if it's a personal punch, you can often just write a line as a straight diss, and worded well enough, it can be stronger than any wordplay punchline.

Flips (4:5). Flips are a part of stage battling. It's argued that in lyrical battles online they shouldn't be allowed, as there's more time to think and prepare your verse. Nonetheless flipping IS a skill, more specifically, flipping well is a skill. When flipping, you should attempt to take what your opponent said and better it with your flip, merely disproving it isn't maximizing the potential of the flip, disproving it then throwing a punch back at them is what it takes to write a match-winning flip. Don't think flipping gives the second spitter undisputed advantage though. There are advantages you can get out of dropping first in a battle. You can taunt an opponent, try and discourage them from flipping or using certain punchlines against you, or from taking too long to reply, or write lines that would be hard to flip.

Tips (4:6). Don't force your lyricism; maintain good flow, but make sure to hit your opponent killer punches. Don't use played or basic concepts or irrelevant personal info. Write naturally, coherently and in abundance; the more you write the easier it'll get, plus you can select the best parts of what you've written to use in battle. Always remember complexity isn't the number of rhymes and wordplays you can drop, it's the quality of the ones you do use and managing to fit them into flowing, direct disses.

5. SUMMARY

Summary (5:1). This tutorial is designed for everyone. Some beginners may be confused by some of it, for any words you don't understand just look them up. The tips here are merely guidelines; applying these in your writing will require a lot of independant thought and effort. Pay attention to constructive feedback you get and learn from it. When voting on battles or giving any sort of feedback try and remember points in this tutorial. Remember to look for balance, originality and completion of any key objectives the given verse required.

---------- Post added at 02:28 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:28 PM ----------

THE BASICS OF FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE

Rap Music and poetry are full of Figurative Language. Here is a guide for identifying and using figurative language in hip-hop and poetry. Each figurative language term has a pronunciation guide, a definition, and an example. Rap is poetry, and a lot of poetry is rap.


Simile, (SIH-muh-lee): a comparison between two or more things using the words like or as.
example: "I move fast like a cheetah on the Serengeti."


Metaphor, (MET-uh-for): a comparison between two or more things that doesn't use the words like or as.
example: "You are an ant, while I'm the lion."


Alliteration, (ah-LIT-er-AY-shon): a phrase with a string of words all beginning with the same sound.
example: "Five freaky females finding sales at retail."


Hyperbole, (hie-PER-buh-lee): an exageration.
example: "I fought a million rappers in an afternoon in June."


Personification, (per-son-if-ih-KAY-shon): giving an animal or object human-like characteristics.
example: "Alright, the sky misses the sun at night."


Paradox, (PARE-uh-docks): a statement that seems untrue, that seems to contradict itself.
example: "The poorest man is the richest, and the rich are poor."


Symbol, (SIM-bull): something that stands for something else (often something more abstract).
example: In Tupac Shakur's song Me and My Girlfriend, the "girflfriend" referenced is actually his gun.


Apostrophe, (uh-POS-troe-fee): a figure of speech that addresses (talks to) a dead or nonpresent person, or an object.
example: "O, King Vitamin cereal, you blow my mind!"


Antonym, (An-Toe-Nim): A group of words that are the opposite of the word you are looking for in preference.
example: Bad: Opposite of Bad = Good


Synonyms, (Sin-O-Nim): A Group of words that are the same of the word you looking for in preference.
example: Bad: Terrible
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Unread 11-06-2012, 02:00 PM
InZane™'s Avatar
InZane™ InZane™ is on FIRE! 5+ wins in a row!
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Thanks man, I make songs and go gigs full time in real life and there is such a vast difference in text battling/dissing/making songs etc. You covered the diversity nicely. And you talked about rap maturely and as an art form, which it is, but it is often forgotten. Here's a song I made recently, take a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J9l1NRQzXA

And once again, thanks for that!!
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Unread 11-06-2012, 02:00 PM  
 
InZane™'s Avatar
InZane™ InZane™ is on FIRE! 5+ wins in a row!
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2 Won / 1 Lost
Estimated Skill in Text: 7.53/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 7.53/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 7.53/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 7.53/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 7.53/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 7.53/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 7.53/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 7.48/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 7.48/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 7.48/10 stars
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217 Won / 33 Lost
 
Voted: 0 audio / 385 text
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Thanks man, I make songs and go gigs full time in real life and there is such a vast difference in text battling/dissing/making songs etc. You covered the diversity nicely. And you talked about rap maturely and as an art form, which it is, but it is often forgotten. Here's a song I made recently, take a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J9l1NRQzXA

And once again, thanks for that!!
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Unread 11-06-2012, 02:02 PM
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Awesome, I'm Gonna Read This And Then Type Up My Verse For The Tourny.
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Unread 11-06-2012, 02:02 PM  
 
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Unread 11-06-2012, 03:22 PM
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Erupt da Monsta Erupt da Monsta is on FIRE! 5+ wins in a row!
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13 Won / 4 Lost
Estimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.07/10 stars
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Awesome, I'm Gonna Read This And Then Type Up My Verse For The Tourny.
no problem man, do it big!
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Unread 11-06-2012, 03:22 PM  
 
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Erupt da Monsta Erupt da Monsta is on FIRE! 5+ wins in a row!
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Estimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.07/10 stars
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no problem man, do it big!
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Unread 11-06-2012, 04:45 PM
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Don't forget about good ole' assonance and consonance I feel if written properly, they add a great rhythmic feel to Topicals. As for battles, you can use them to be cutthroat, but I don't think they're as effective.

Last edited by Erupt da Monsta; 11-08-2012 at 08:55 AM.
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Unread 11-06-2012, 04:45 PM  
 
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Don't forget about good ole' assonance and consonance I feel if written properly, they add a great rhythmic feel to Topicals. As for battles, you can use them to be cutthroat, but I don't think they're as effective.

Last edited by Erupt da Monsta; 11-08-2012 at 08:55 AM.
 
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Unread 11-08-2012, 08:55 AM
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Erupt da Monsta Erupt da Monsta is on FIRE! 5+ wins in a row!
Posts: 7,938
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Ranked Audio Record
13 Won / 4 Lost
Estimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.07/10 stars
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64 Won / 15 Lost
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1 Won / 0 Lost
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enfinite View Post
Don't forget about good ole' assonance and consonance I feel if written properly, they add a great rhythmic feel to Topicals. As for battles, you can use them to be cutthroat, but I don't think they're as effective.
Yeah those two can add to a verse aswell. Good shit
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Unread 11-08-2012, 08:55 AM  
 
Erupt da Monsta's Avatar
Erupt da Monsta Erupt da Monsta is on FIRE! 5+ wins in a row!
Estimated Skill in Audio: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Audio: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Audio: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Audio: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Audio: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Audio: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Audio: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Audio: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Audio: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Audio: 8.28/10 stars
Ranked Audio Record
13 Won / 4 Lost
Estimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.28/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 8.07/10 stars
Ranked Text Record
64 Won / 15 Lost
Exclusive Text Record
1 Won / 0 Lost
 
Voted: 85 audio / 704 text
Posts: 7,938
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enfinite View Post
Don't forget about good ole' assonance and consonance I feel if written properly, they add a great rhythmic feel to Topicals. As for battles, you can use them to be cutthroat, but I don't think they're as effective.
Yeah those two can add to a verse aswell. Good shit
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Unread 11-12-2012, 05:02 PM
Miss_T's Avatar
Miss_T
Posts: 13
Nice guide Erupt, I'm sure some lyricists will learn a thing or two. Good job on explaining the components which create a decent verse/cypher etc. I even took away a few pointers myself.
- Miss_T
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Unread 11-12-2012, 05:02 PM  
 
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Miss_T
 
Voted: 0 audio / 55 text
Posts: 13
Nice guide Erupt, I'm sure some lyricists will learn a thing or two. Good job on explaining the components which create a decent verse/cypher etc. I even took away a few pointers myself.
- Miss_T
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Unread 01-05-2013, 08:18 PM
Rounin's Avatar
Rounin
Posts: 218
Estimated Skill in Text: 0/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 0/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 0/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 0/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 0/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 0/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 6.65/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 6.65/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 6.65/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 6.65/10 stars
Ranked Text Record
53 Won / 24 Lost
Exclusive Text Record
1 Won / 0 Lost
Good shit. Ima Bookmark this page lol.
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Unread 01-05-2013, 08:18 PM  
 
Rounin's Avatar
Rounin
Estimated Skill in Text: 0/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 0/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 0/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 0/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 0/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 0/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 6.65/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 6.65/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 6.65/10 starsEstimated Skill in Text: 6.65/10 stars
Ranked Text Record
53 Won / 24 Lost
Exclusive Text Record
1 Won / 0 Lost
 
Voted: 0 audio / 424 text
Posts: 218
Good shit. Ima Bookmark this page lol.
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Unread 05-23-2013, 12:53 AM
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Kohlerwhite
Posts: 13
oh thats pretty awesome page to read it up twice i liked it man and would love to share it with my friends on social networking sites
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Unread 05-23-2013, 12:53 AM  
 
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Kohlerwhite
 
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oh thats pretty awesome page to read it up twice i liked it man and would love to share it with my friends on social networking sites
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Unread 06-29-2013, 06:14 AM
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Dumisanismith
Posts: 21
Awesome, I'm Gonna Read This And Then go for further reading and understanding out here
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Unread 06-29-2013, 06:14 AM  
 
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Dumisanismith
 
Voted: 0 audio / 0 text
Posts: 21
Awesome, I'm Gonna Read This And Then go for further reading and understanding out here
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