Rapping 101: Tips for the Beginner Rapper

More and more rap artists are popping in and out of Singapore today. With rap becoming the most listened-to music genre at the present, more talent has been showing up as well. If you’re one of those who love to listen to hip-hop, you might even think of becoming a rapper yourself. You think of that one time a famous Eminem beat just came on and you were able to rap all the lyrics fluently. By then, you became inspired! So, here are some tips if you want to try your hand in rapping.

Listen to all types of rap music

A lot of people don’t know that there are so many types of rap music. There’s the classic boom-bap style used in the old school by legends like 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. Then there’s the modern trap style that you hear from rappers of today. Listening to a wide variety of styles will help you find your actual taste in rap music. Of course, some people prefer boom-bap while others prefer rap. But listening to both will help you get a grasp for the overall feel of rap so that you can also find what’s most comfortable for you.

Listen to iconic rappers

If you’ve now found the type of rap style that you like, look into famous rappers who do those styles. For boom bap, for example, some would say the best choice would be The Notorious B.I.G. He’s considered a lyrical genius and a legend when it comes to boom-bap. Listening to iconic rappers and imitating their flow can be a good start. You can also practice by memorizing their songs and practicing your flow with that. But of course, once you start getting better, it would be a good idea to stop imitating your idols and start finding your own voice.

Dedicate time to writing lyrics

Aside from listening to rap, you should also start writing your own lyrics. The thing about rap though is that writing lyrics is a lot like poetry. There are rhyme schemes to consider, there’s also wordplay, and then you’ll also have to consider the melody. For a beginner though, you can build a great foundation by just writing lyrics without worrying about a beat. A lot of newbies like to look for a beat online and create lyrics that can match that beat. Although there’s nothing wrong with that, you can actually improve your lyricism if you can create something without relying on an already-established beat.

Just practice rapping daily

By practicing daily, this doesn’t mean rapping only in your mind. When you practice, you have to actually use and train your mouth. There are a lot out there who make the mistake of rapping only in their minds. Even when they’ve memorized the lyrics, when they actually start rapping, they mess up. This is because they didn’t hone their mind-muscle connection. Their tongue and mouth simply are slower than they expect.

Tips to Remember When Setting Goals for Self-Improvement

When it comes to self-improvement, there are a lot of things we can do to make sure we succeed. One of the most common and most effective is actually setting goals for yourself. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that setting goals and following them is a hassle. But you should know that this is exactly why it can boost your progress! So, without further ado, here are some tips you should know when you set goals for self-improvement.

Motivation is an essential driving factor

When we set goals, it’s usually for specific aspects of life like success at work, becoming healthier, getting high grades, and etc. And among all these, one factor that can determine if we succeed or fail is motivation. How motivated are you to change your lifestyle? How motivated are you to succeed? Motivation and willpower will be very important things to consider once you decide on your goals.

Take note of your whys

In connection to the point above, your motivation will highly depend on your reasons for self-improvement. If not, your whys will exactly be your motivation. One way or another they will dictate how motivated you are to change, how willing you are to monitor your progress, and if you have enough determination to succeed. This is why when you’re setting goals, you should consider the whys as your guidelines.

Lean on the positive

One common mistake we make when writing down our goals is that we use a negative tone. We usually write, “I will stop smoking” or “I will stop eating junk foods” For one, these are too broad. And two, the tone itself sounds like it’s more of a chore than a goal. Instead, what you can do is simply to focus on more positive phrasing. For example, you could write, “If I get the urge to smoke, I will write three positive things I’ve experienced today instead”. You’ll be surprised at how effective this actually is, so just try it!

Always pay attention to the process and not the outcome

Logically, you’ll know if you achieve a goal by looking at the outcome. But when you’re starting from scratch and still planning out those goals, it will be best not to pay attention to the end result at all. Focusing on the steps you take will actually feel much more rewarding. For example, you’re ordered to walk to a certain point. As you walk and walk and walk, the end-destination still looks so far away. But then you look back and you’ll see how far you’ve gone which helps you push further. This is the magic of focusing on the process and not the outcome.

Dos and Don’ts When Feeding Dogs

While it is okay to prepare human food for your dog if you want variety, there are some ingredients that might be toxic or harmful to your pet that you should avoid. Sticking to commercial dog food alone may not be enough but remember these dos and don’ts when feeding.

Do check the protein and fat content in commercial food. Commercially prepared dog food comes in two forms, wet and dry. Wet food must have 5% to 5.8% of protein and 3% to 6% of fat, while dry food must contain 22% to 32% of protein and 10% to 25% of fat.

Don’t fed your dog fatty meat. That includes fatty meat from poultry, lamb, beef, pork, and even poultry skin. Excess fat can lead to pancreatitis and obesity in dogs.

Do feed your dog fish. Even fatty fish are alright for dogs. These are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Leave the skin on the fish and prepare it by steaming, boiling or grilling. Do not add any spices, herbs, sauces or flavoring because these are harmful for the dog.

Don’t feed your dog spicy food. Spicy ingredients can burn the dog’s tongue and its digestive tract. These are not made for animal consumption.

Do feed your pet vegetables. There are a lot of vegetables that are good for dogs. You can serve them raw or cooked, but there are exceptions such as spices, dressing, and others that you might find on this guide. You can feed your dog the following: spinach, green beans, broccoli, carrots, peas, sweet potato, and pumpkin.

Don’t feed your dog sauces. Anything that has rich sauce contains a lot of herbs and spices which the dog does not really need. Bland food is better for your pet.

Do transition your pet when introducing new food. You can blend new ingredients into their favorites to introduce them to new food.

Don’t over supplement your dog’s diet. As long as you give them nutritious food and plenty of water, your dog will not need supplements. You might want to ask your veterinarian for recommendations if you feel your dog is lacking something.

Do feed your dog fruits. Besides vegetables, there are fruits that you can give to your dog as treats. The following are safe for dogs: cantaloupe, bananas, apples, and blueberries.

Don’t give your dog milk. But this only applies to dogs that are lactose intolerant. However, if your dog is okay with dairy products, it is perfectly okay to give them plain yogurt, bread, cottage cheese, and cheeses.

Don’t give your dog drinks that are made for humans only. These include alcohol, coffee, chocolate drinks, milk substitutes, milk (only if the dog is lactose intolerant), beverages with grapes, soda, and tea.

Do give your dog other treats. There are some human food that are safe for dogs such as unseasoned peanut butter, eggs, and oatmeal.

Don’t give them toxic food. Avoid the following: chocolate, avocadoes, chewing gum, grapes, raisins, currants, onions, garlic, chives, yeast dough, macadamia nuts, nutmeg, mushrooms, salt, artificial sweeteners, anything with Xylitol, citruses, rhubarb, tomatoes, fruits seeds or pits, and high-sodium food.

What are Chinese Artichokes?

Perhaps you are familiar with artichoke, which is a thistle prized for it numerous health benefits and strange appearance. Stranger, however, is the vegetable called Chinese artichoke, more commonly known as crosne, betony, knotroot, Japanese artichoke, or chorogi.

What do they taste like and how best to prepare them for a family dinner?

What it looks like

Because the Chinese artichoke is a tuber, it looks similar to ginger but smoother because of the knobs or knots. The tuber is also ivory white in color and look like beads when cleaned. The vegetable is native to China and Japan but it was introduced to the rest of the world at the close of the 1800s.

It is quite expensive when purchased outside China and Japan, but it is cultivated in Europe and is used for a lot of dishes. It takes about a year to develop and can be tricky if you are planning to raise this in your garden.

What does it taste like?

Despite their looks, the Chinese artichoke is crunchy and has a nutty flavor. Some describe it as having a similar flavor to chestnuts. Chinese artichokes can be prepared in various ways by blanching, steaming, sautéing, and pickled. They can also be consumed raw as long as you rinse them under running water.

What are its benefits?

The Chinese artichoke (Stachys affinis) contain fiber, protein, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, choline, and folate.

What recipes can you make from it?

If you can find one in Singapore markets, you can make simple dishes from it easily.

Chinese Artichokes and Peas

Ingredients: 12 ounces trimmed Chinese artichokes, 4 ounces peas, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 3 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons parsley, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, white truffle oil, salt, and ground black pepper

Preparation: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook Chinese artichokes for 2 minutes, then rinse and soak in a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, heat butter in a pan over medium heat and cook garlic cloves and Chinese artichokes for 2 minutes.

Season with salt then stir in peas. Cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat and add parsley. After 1 minute, add lemon juice and black pepper then top with truffle oil.

Sauteed Crosne

Ingredients: 2 pounds rinsed Chinese artichokes, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons sea salt, ½ teaspoon fine salt, 2 tablespoons salted butter, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 lemon, and 2 tablespoons chervil

Preparation: After washing the artichokes, rub sea salt on them and let sit for a few minutes. Prepare a steamer then rinse the artichokes and arrange them on the steamer. Steam while covered for 5 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan over medium heat and cook garlic until golden. Next, stir in steamed Chinese artichokes are butter. Season with salt and pepper then cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with a drizzle of lemon juice and chervil.

The Most Expensive Cities to Live in Today

The recent listings of the most expensive cities to live in are dominated by Asian countries. The ranking is based on the comparison of the prices of commodities such as food, housing, utilities, home services, personal care, alcohol and tobacco, domestic supplies, transportation, and recreation and entertainment.

Hong Kong (SAR)

Despite the recent upheavals in the special administrative region, Hong Kong retains the top spot as the most expensive city in the world for a second year. An expat should expect a mid-range monthly rent of HK$30,000, a full lunch meal for HK$93, and a pair of sneakers for HK$799.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is the 14th most popular tourist destinations in the world in 2019. If an expat moved into Tokyo in 2019, expect an average monthly rent of ¥45,000, ¥4,000 for transportation, and ¥20,000 to ¥30,000 for food.


Singapore ranked fourth in the most popular cities in the world and the third most expensive city to live in. If an expat decides to move into Singapore, a single person should have a minimum budget of SGD$3,000 for monthly rental, SGD$12 for a full lunch meal, and SGD$95 for public transportation tickets.

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul ranked 24th in the most visited cities in 2019. If an expat decides to move into the city, expect an average monthly rental of ₩1,450,000, a full lunch meal for ₩9,608, and ₩67,000 for public transportation tickets.

Zurich, Switzerland

As the only European country to break into the top ten, Zurich is an ideal destination for those who want to enjoy a high cost of living and political stability. If an expat decides to move into Zurich, expect a monthly rent average of about CHF2,300, a complete lunch meal in the business district for about CHF26, CHF14 for fast food, and CHF142 for a pair of sneakers.

Shanghai, China

In Shanghai, renting a fully furnished mid-range housing can cost an average of 9,400元 per month, a mid-range studio for 5,700元 a month, 192元 for monthly public transportation tickets, and 60元 for a full lunch meal.

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Ashgabat is a surprising entry to the top ten but not if you consider the Turkmenistan’s recent currency struggles. A person moving into Ashgabat should expect a mid-range housing rental of 2,130 Manat per month, a full meal for 44 Manat, and 249 Manat for a pair of sneakers.

Beijing, China

In Beijing, a fully furnished average house may be rented for 7,700元 a month while a more expensive rental can run up to 13,400元. For a full meal in business districts, you pay for an average of 50元 and 32元 for fast food.

New York City, United States

As the only entry from the Americas in the top ten, rental in New York City averages $3,100 per month, $16 for a full lunch, and $124 for public transportation tickets.

Shenzhen, China

In Shenzhen, rental can go for as high as 11,500元 for high-end homes, a total of 169元 for monthly public transportation tickets, and 44元 for a full lunch.

A Guide for Home Gym Maintenance

Having your own small gym at home is a dream come true for most people, but getting the equipment is just the first step of the challenge. Now you need to learn how to keep your gym in good working order.

Here is a basic guide to home gym equipment maintenance.

Clean the equipment regularly. It is important to sanitize the gym equipment even if no one else is using them but you. Wipe down the surface with a clean cloth and sanitizing spray. Use the spray only on the padded surfaces. Most people use chalk when handling the equipment, but this can get into hard to reach places.

Look for signs of damage. Faulty equipment can cause accidents or injuries. To avoid that, you need to inspect your gym equipment for signs of wear and tear and damage. If you are not confident with your skills, you can ask for assistance from friends who know what to look for. Have the equipment repaired if you see even small cracks or breaks or bends.

Use a conditioner. After cleaning the equipment, make sure to apply a leather or vinyl conditioner to the padded surface at least once a month. The conditioner will protect the padding from cracking.

Add oil to the tracks. Once a month, you should apply some oil to the weight tracks like the stack slides. But if you use the equipment often, you will need to make sure it’s lubricated properly once every two weeks. Besides the tracks, you will also need to add oil to the fittings as well as equipment used for cardio workouts, but make sure to check the instructions on the manual for using grease.

Lubricate the treadmill. Do not forget to check and lubricate the treadmill, bicycles, and ellipticals as well. Some of the equipment you use have unique requirements than the rest, that is why you should check the manual to make sure that you are using the correct cleaner and how much lubricant to use.

Use a clean cloth on other surfaces. You should use only a clean, dry cloth on the other surfaces. You can wipe the equipment once a week before using or once every two weeks if you don’t exercise often.

Apply a silicone-based spray. You can also use a silicone-based spray cleaner on your equipment if you want to make sure they are extra clean. But you need to wipe off the excess with a clean, dry cloth.

Do a system check. For more equipment, they usually come with software that keep you updated on your progress. Read the manual to determine how to keep the software functioning properly through updates.

Invest in trusted brands. Buy the best equipment that you can afford to ensure that you don’t have accidents and injuries while working out. Quality equipment are also easier to maintain and last longer than substandard materials.