Its probably fair to say that hip-hop has been probably the most globally influential style of music since some young wag stepped on Elviss blue suede shoes. Starting out as a voice for African-American and Latin communities in the states, hip-hop soon spread and became the soundtrack towards the 80s, 90s and the new millennium. Each year its influence and penetration increase, from commercials to films, and from charts to bars. Within this section I will explain the basics of hip-hop production as well as 20 have to know ideas to get the best hip-hop tracks possible.
BEATS AND LOOPS
With hip-hop its by pointing out beats – consider getting inspired!
Beats would be the backbone of all hip-hop. Whether youre in to the cheeky one-two of Dres Eminem productions or the juddering steps of Dj Premier, you need to make sure that if nothing else is playing, your beat still stands up to scrutiny. As US comic Chris Rock put it: “If the beats alright, theyll dance through the night.”
As weve already seen, hip-hop beats started out as breaks from records, beatboxes and sampling drum machines, so its super easy for hip-hop produced on the computer to sound a little lifeless. Live playing and clever quantisation can fix this, though. The primary trick would be to keep it sparse and when you have a basic groove going, try taking out different percussive hits before adding more.
Also, its important to make it simple. If you pay attention to professional hip-hop productions, youll find that its rare for two different percussive elements to experience simultaneously – unless its a layered clap and snare, and even then theyll alternate on the bar or two between both playing and then just one or even the other. Youll also hear many parts were a musical instrument like a shaker only plays for any small and specific section of a looped bar, nearly as if the different percussive elements take turns. This is no coincidence, as hip-hop culture is all about this sort of connection. Wether its DJs, MCs or breakdancers, hip-hop is, at its core, relating to this type of backwards and forwards interaction, and this gets in every single production element including beats.
Step-by-step the drums
1-The very first thing I actually do when working on beats is lay out a hi-hat pattern. Usually , I actually do an eighth-note pattern after which return and change it if necessary after Ive laid down the other parts.
2-Next up is the kick and snare . I have them simple at first because I know that Im going to be using a drum loop underneath. I start with a drum loop and add extra kicks and snares to reinforce it. The kick and snare are both sounds that I re-use on many tracks.
3-Next Ill add a sampled kick and snare to strengthen the stock kick and snare sounds. This makes the beat sound a little thicker and grimier. I additionally leave a bit of air on the tail end – this acts like sonic glue, giving the beat a far more sampled feel.
4-The basic beat is now complete and ready to send in to the arrange screen, afterwards Ill use this pattern as a template for other parts of the song, were Ill add snare fills and rolls.
Step-by-step The loop
1-When using sampled breaks, I always make certain theyre either royalty-free, original approximately obscure they wont be recognized. This way I dont have to bother with sample clearance. Im a fan of busy drums so Ill usually choose an action packed two-bar drum break.
2-Now you have to match the tempo of the drum break to the tempo of your song. This can be done with any beat-slicing program.
3-Later on, after youve added vocals and the like you can use this drum break, were its needed throughout your song.
MELODIES, STABS, SAMPLES AND SYNTHS
Much like almost every other type of music, hip-hops gotta have hooks
Melody or bass: its difficult to say which you can start focus on first, because hip-hop reaches its best when its simple – great tracks often have a bassline but no melody or vice versa. And often the bassline may be the melody.
Most hip-hop is still made out of samples because the main musical hooks, but while these samples were, for a long time, more often than not sections from classic records, nowadays theyre usually far more obscure, edited and processed. Its no longer enough to sample a piece off an 80s rare groove hit and whack it over a beat.
While hip-hop is still greatly a sample-based discipline, there are many excellent synth-hop tracks out there. If youve heard Kelis milkshake, you know how funky a good synth line can sound with the right tight beats.
The critical thing to remember isnt to over-egg your production pudding. If you take away something from all of these lessons, its that hip-hop is supposed to be simple but effective, so always try getting sections or notes before you begin adding more. And remember hip-hop is about bringing seemingly disparate elements toegether – Run DMCs sampling of Aerosmith on Walk By doing this, for instance – so dont be afraid to experiment. Even harp solos and steal band recordings make excellent melodies in the right hands.
Finally remember that in hip-hop you cant ever go to far wrong in case your riff plays on the first beat of the bar, is quickly muted, and then accumulates again from round the third beat. Seriously, this can be a winning formula – try it out!
The Boss General is an up and coming hip hop artist and created new hip hop music and has done tracks with artist like Eminem , Snoop Dogg and much more. The Boss General has also created MP3 downloads and worked with hip hop artist of the year and many other platinum selling producers. Find out more at: TheBossGeneral.com
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