Writing a Rap with AI Creative Writing Tools like TextFX
Written by: samantha
To explore AI and keep current on its various possibilities, Tusitala sets aside time every month for learning sessions led by a team member. The first session, run by Christine, was based on TextFX, an AI experiment designed to help rappers, writers, and wordsmiths expand their creative writing process.
Powered by Google’s PaLM 2 large language model, via the PaLM API, TextFX consists of 10 tools, each designed to explore creative possibilities with text and language. It was created in collaboration with the American rapper, Lupe Fiasco, drawing inspiration from the lyrical and linguistic techniques he has developed throughout his career.
We first watched the introductory video together, Christine provided an overview of the different tools, and then team members were asked to write a poem or rap within 15 minutes using the platform. We then revealed our works, had a laugh, and shared our process and insights with each other. Read our AI-assisted creative works at the end of the post!
Before we come to our final rap results, let’s look at what the 10 functions within TextFX are:
- Simile = Create a simile about a thing or concept.
- Explode = Break a word into similar-sounding phrases.
- Unexpect = Make a scene more unexpected and imaginative.
- Chain = Build a chain of semantically related items.
- POV = Evaluate a topic through different points of view.
- Alliteration = Curate topic-specific words that start with a chosen letter.
- Acronym = Create an acronym using the letters of a word.
- Fuse = Find intersections between two things.
- Scene = Generate sensory details about a scene.
- Unfold = Slot a word into other words or phrases.
The experiment and our learnings
We wanted to experience how generative language technologies can empower the creativity and workflows of artists and creators, or even turn us into one. Some of us ended up with poems, some raps sounded like lyrics of a song, and Christine even had an audio soundtrack to accompany the rap.
This little experiment actually taught us a few noteworthy things:
1. TextFX helps expand on our ideas and create new prompts
In the mastery of AI tools, using prompts efficiently is a science that is not necessarily intuitive. Prompt engineering requires a blend of creativity, user understanding, technical knowledge, data analysis, and continuous learning. It’s not just about coding; understanding human psychology, language, and context is equally important.
That’s where TextFX helped us. Its “Explode”, “Unexpect” and “Chain” functions were very useful in bringing about ideas and words that one might not be able to generate alone. For example, who would have thought of – in the case of using the word “fruits”:
- “flutes (musical instruments)” (Explode function) (useful for rhyme)
- “fruits that are all wearing tiny sombreros” (Unexpect function)
- “fruits, tree, branch, break, leg, walk, shoe, leather” (Chain function)
With new ideas generated, our search for information can be made better with these new prompts.
2. Complement your work with other AI tools
While some of us worked within TextFX alone, others used different AI tools to support their process.
In the new world of AI, those who master the use of more than one tool could be at an advantage. They would be able to expertly toggle between each tool to help them where it works best.
For example, Evelyn, Vaibhav and Rina used ChatGPT as well to help them start or assist in the process and complement the tools in TextFX.
3. Everyone’s process is different
While it was fun reading the raps we created at the end of the 15 minutes, it was more valuable learning how each person developed their end product.
Some moved structurally and developed their ideas in a linear format, while others started from an overall theme and tried to fill the sentences along the way, rearranging them in the process.
Eventually, we learned that AI tools could help us expand our ideas, but the final product was still a result of each person’s creativity.
Overall, this experiment raises more questions, best left for another discussion in the future:
- Could a non-writer actually become a writer with these tools?
- Would a creative writer actually feel stifled or lose their original creativity, because of the increasing dependency and “temptation” to use such tech tools?
- Lastly, is the process as important as the final product – is the process also the product?
As Liu Xiaoyi wrote in his article “potential shortcomings and other aspects of writing with artificial intelligence”:
“Scriptwriting is a process of creative writing, which in some ways, is a process of anti-system and extreme individuality. Therefore, it may be a false proposition to try to program the creative process of writing. The road for AI to carry out scriptwriting may still be a long one.”
What do you think?
Ok you’ve been waiting! It’s time to review our Raps now:
Here are our 15-minute raps just for laughs – it’s certainly far from perfect. Given time (and with a lot of help from AI), we might just become accomplished poets and lyric writers.
Life’s too short to eat bad food
Steak without a knife, cuts no good
Like money our much-loved currency
A gift — feels like a curse to be
They say it’s source of pleasure
I think it’s a painful treasure
If money could be chocolate bars
I’d be happy as a pig on mars
Used TextFX functions “POV”, “Explode”, “Fuse”, “Unexpect”, and “Simile”
in medias res res res res…
Rest, rest, rest, rest (no)
It’s stress, stress, stress, stress
Stress, stress, stress, stress (AI)
Poetry, artificial rap
Poetry, can I take a nap (no)
Poetry, coming from a lab
Scientific trap, every day I learn
Getting on my nerves
Brain whirling and churns
Rap to be read in tune with Korean Rapper J-Hope’s “Arson”
Used almost all functions but liked the TextFX functions “Chain” and “Acronym” the most.
I wake up in the morning, feeling kinda slow,
But there’s one thing that gets me ready to go,
The smell of freshly brewed coffee, it’s a delight,
Mix it with steamed milk, yeah, that’s just right.
I take a sip, feel that warmth in my soul,
The caffeine’s like a drug, it’s takin’ control,
Once I start, I can’t stop, I’m on the grind,
Gotta have that java, it’s a one-of-a-kind find.
Used TextFX functions “Simile”, “Chain”, “Unfold”, “Explode” and “Scene”, then used ChatGPT
In the wild, where the circuitry unfolds,
There’s a bot with a mission, stories yet untold.
Gathering nuts and bolts, in their digital claws,
Assembling parts with precision, no room for flaws.
Bots in nature’s dance, breakin’ all the laws.
Used TextFX functions “Explode”, “Unexpect” and “Fuse”, with ChatGPT
Ramyeon is like air.
You don’t think about it much.
But when you don’t have it, you start to realise how important it is.
Air is the only thing that makes farting funny.
Air is the only thing that keeps us alive.
My ramyeon was like a warm hug, comforting and delicious,
and it fills me with a sense of peace and contentment.
Used TextFX functions “Simile”, “Explode”, “POV“, “Unexpect” on the word Ramyeon
People all around, ready to shout,
Youthful energy, we’re letting it out.
Releasing others’ trapped emotions, no doubt,
Life’s too short to fear, let’s be human, no drought.
In this world so vast, we find our way,
Expressing ourselves, come what may.
With courage and heart, we’ll seize the day,
Embracing our humanity in every single way.
So let the music play, the rhythm and beat,
We’ll dance to the groove of our own heartbeat.
No more holding back, we’ll take a seat,
In the theater of life, where our stories will meet.
In this symphony of existence, we’re the stars,
Breaking down the walls and tearing through bars.
With love and connection, we’ll mend the scars,
Because life’s too precious, no time for bizarre.
Together we’ll rise, together we’ll fall,
Facing it all, standing tall.
With passion and fire, we’ll give our all,
For being human, we’ll cherish the call.
Used TextFX functions “Chain” and “Acronym”, then ChatGPT