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Mankin creates app for freestyle rap

Belmont junior Blake Mankin wants to inspire creativity, promote self confidence and provide a songwriting resource through his new iPhone application The Rap App.

Mankin, a songwriting major, created an app teaching people to freestyle rap. The idea came to him sophomore year while he sat in his Dickens Hall room trying to write music.

“There was no useful rhyming dictionary out there, and as a writer I was hungry for words and compound rhymes,” said Mankin, who rose to Belmont fame after he released a viral video of him rapping his Wendy’s drive-thru order.

Mankin created a composition book full of lingo to use as a resource while writing. He wrote a word or phrase on the top of each page and then made two columns of terminology that rhymed with the original.

It became a great tool for him to use and pretty soon his friends caught wind of the book, asking if they could get their hands on it.

Realizing he had a great idea, Mankin said he wanted to create copies of his book for other artists. But one afternoon over a slice of pizza, Drew Ramsey, an instructor of songwriting at Belmont, gave him an idea to create a phone app.

“I just wanted him to consider who would be using his product and how they would want to use it, the phone being the obvious place,” said Ramsey. “At some point on the patio at Pizza Perfect we joked about ‘Rap App’ since it rhymed and it felt like the idea had made the leap.”

Mankin said the idea sparked his interest and instantly he knew what he wanted to create.

Mankin spent about 10 months working on an app prototype before he released his idea to the public last Friday at the Belmont Entrepreneurship Village. A high school friend of Mankin’s worked on the coding and production for the app, while Belmont students provided a variety of beats.

“He said he needed music, and I was immediately on board. He’s got a great team behind him and I’m excited to be on that team because he’s such a great dude,” said freshman music business major Kyle Buckley.

The Rap App promotes free-style rapping, something which Mankin strongly believes in because it “improves self confidence and self awareness,” he said. His experience with freestyle rap over the years has greatly contributed to his confidence and outgoing personality, he said.

His main goal in creating The Rap App is to inspire creativity in others, but he also sought to build a product he would want to use.

Here’s how The Rap App works: Users select a beat to rap to and hit record, then a collection of five words or phrases, all of which rhyme, pop up on the screen for reference.

To see more rhyming words in that collection, users tap the screen. If they want a whole new set of rhyming words, they can tap the next button for the next collection. After users are finished, a video of their original rap will be stored in their photostream.

“What we’re doing isn’t as important as why we’re doing it. We want to inspire creativity and teach people,” said Mankin.

Mankin plans to submit the app to Apple for approval soon and it should be available to the public by the middle of April. The initial app will be available for a free download.

This article was written by Jessica Swan.

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