Learn English with Rap: Can I Kick It? (A Tribe Called Quest)

You can learn a lot at Real Life English
We can help your accent sound American or British
Or how to speak so no one can distinguish
You can make your learning so fun you won’t relinquish

So maybe my raps aren’t so good, but I had fun finding the rhyming words and putting them together in a comprehendible way.

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The awesome part of rhyming, whether it be in a poem or rap song, is that it forces us to find new words and ultimately extends our vocabulary in a way that’s easily remembered, and really fun to practice.

In this article you will:

  • Learn about a new method of learning vocabulary, which I call FLOCABULARY
  • Learn some cool new words with legendary hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest
  • Practice your pronunciation with the rhythm and flow technique


I’ve been using the FLOCABULARY method of teaching for some time with a lot of my intermediate students, usually as an alternative exercise to base homework on. People are often skeptical and shy when I tell them that the exercise is going to be based on them rapping, but soon change their mind when they see the benefits.

The general idea is for the student to rap about their general life but focusing on words that rhyme. This is a methodology that people have started using in the U.S.A. to increase test scores. To know more about this methodology, take a look at the website here.

When using the flocabulary method for ESL, it’s necessary for the student to have a rhyme dictionary or I generally just use an online dictionary. My favorite online option is Rhyme Zone, this site has a perfect rhyme or a near rhyme option which is great for a bigger option of words. Here’s a list of some other rhyme websites:

Rhyme Zone

When doing this exercise, I always base the rhyme on a word that will have a lot of rhyming words to go with it, and a situation to base it on. Depending on what situation you choose, it can determine the verb tense the rap is going to be in. In one of my most recent rhyming classes, I gave my student the word PLAN and the situation was THE WEEKEND. This is what he came up with.

Last  weekend I didn’t have a plan
I sat at home and drank beer from a can
My friend called me to a party a little far
I was too lazy to drive my car.

Like my student has shown us with his simple but perfect example, rapping isn’t as hard as you probably think.  Using this ‘flocabulary’ exercise you can open yourself up to so many new words that you wouldn’t normally look for or hear of otherwise.

Start to work the FLOCABULARY right now. Write some short raps and post them on the comments section of this article, I’d love to see what you can come up with.

Suggested words to  rhyme: Ate, fun, like, poke, facebook, Brazil, lake, spoon


The group ‘A Tribe Called Quest’ are an American hip hop group, formed in the mid 80’s in Queens New York. They have been considered pioneers for alternative rap and hip hop, and have influenced most of today’s famous rap and hip hop artists.

I chose to base this article on one of their tracks because their smooth lyrics are easy to understand, and most of their songs follow a rhyming pattern very similar to the FLOCABULARY method.


The track we’re going to listen to in this article is one of my favorites, Can I kick it?

Humm What do you think the song’s going to be about? Football? Karate?

The expression ‘to kick it’ also has a lot of informal uses, the most common would be to express that you are going to hang out in a relaxed way. For example.

“hey dude, do you wanna go to that dance party tonight?”
“Nahh, I’m gonna kick it at home tonight.”


Main focus
When listening to this track, I want you to focus on the rhyming words. One of the awesome things rap music offers for English learners, is how some of the spelling of the words are changed to the way they are pronounced phonetically. This can really help you remember the pronunciation of the word.

Let’s listen to the track and follow with the lyrics below.

Can I kick it? (yes you can!) x7…

To help with some of your vocabulary, download Real Life English’s free E-book, 101 WORDS YOU’LL NEVER LEARN AT SCHOOL.


As I said at the start of this article, A Tribe Called Quest has inspired so many awesome rappers like Snoop Dogg, 50 cent, Eminem and enter your name here.

That’s right, it’s your turn to be inspired by these rap legends and improve your English with some of their smooth lyrics, and good vibrations. Start using the FLOCABULARY method and writing your own raps, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Be creative and have fun with your learning process and you’ll will be speaking English with so much rhythm and flow that people will think you’re the next Tupac. FEEL FREE TO POST YOUR RAPS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.

Please help Real Life English help you by telling us some of your favorite rap songs that you think have helped or could help your English. All suggestions are valid and appreciated.

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