What does it mean to Cross Train to rap beats? So you have probably never heard this term before. The point is that you get what it means. First you must find a style and a few beats you are comfortable with and practice with those until you can understand what it is with that style that you respond to when you flow over the rap beats.
When you have isolated the elements of the beat that you work best with, then you can sample other styles of hip hop beats and look for similarities. What this means is that you can find a common link in totally different sounding rap beats. Once you've found that common link you can rap to it no matter the style as long as it shares these common elements.
We call this tactic of identifying similar structures in hip hop beats and rapping to them "branching out."
But there is another step to branching out which we call "cross training to rap beats," and this is the way that you improve. What this means is that you are going to look for and rap to beats that have nothing in common with what you normally rap to. Those structures that you practiced with and then identified in different sounding songs are out the window. Now you want to find beats that don't share the common factors that you are comfortable with. Instead you are going to do exactly the opposite and find rap beats that make you uncomfortable or that you just can't figure out.
Take your time and sample many different rap beats, it will be easy to find at least a few rap beats that are just plain difficult for you. And this has nothing to do with style really. It doesn't matter whether you usually prefer old school beats or R&B beats or not. What matters is that the underlying structure of the beat doesn't agree with you. In other words, the beat falls in your blind spot. And you will probably have to rap over the beats to figure this out.
What you are looking for is the rap beat that you suck to. That is the beat that you want. Now once you have found the beat that has a rhythm or a structure that just throws you off - preferably you will find a few of these beat - you want to listen to these rap beats so many times that your heart starts to beat to their rhythm. You want to rap to them so many times that you know the timing of every section until you can at least flow over this thing and sound good.
The point is that it's so easy to get stuck in one mode of thinking. You get so used to your groove that it becomes a rut. And the way to get out of your rut is to cross train to rap beats. And it's not about what your taste in rap beats is, whether you like the rap beat or not and how it sounds doesn't matter. What matters is that for whatever reason the rap beats you choose to cross train to are difficult for you to work with.