A rap beat is a crucial part of a hip-hop song that can make or break it the record. It sets the tone for the entire song. It dramatically affects the mood; Will it be a hard-hitting club banger, or will be a dark, gritty beat that paints the tough image of the streets?
The beat is so wonderfully crafted that sometimes we take it for granted. Sometimes, we assume it’s easy for anyone to start off making hip-hop instrumentals. However, it’s not at all like that. Let’s explain what sampling, sequnecers, drums and other tools all have to do with creating a hit beat.
Have you ever heard of the term “sampling”? No, I don’t mean trying out food from the grocery store for free. Sampling is the act of using a piece of another song to put in one’s own song. This is done using a sampler. The sampler is the one of the most widely used instruments in hip-hop. Sampling allows you to take another beat another remix in a style completely different from the original. For instance, in the song “Otis” by Jay-Z and Kanye West, the background beat sampled Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness”. When you listen to those two songs, you’ll realize the former has more of a hip-hop influenced style from a soul song. That’s the beauty of sampling.
Drums and Sequencers
Hip-hop producers have one thing that makes them better at producing music than the general public: organizing the parts of the song. When you listen to a rap instrumental, notice how everything seems perfectly timed? That’s the work of sequencers, which are predominately used in rap to time drum loops. Timing is extremely important in knowing how to mesh a music sequencer. Without it, the beats sound choppy and awful.
Rap beat producers have tricks to try and make producing simpler. What they do is create a loop that plays throughout the song, really only changing by the third verse. Looped tracks often go over our heads when we listen to hip-hop, but it’s there. Again, looping is one of those elements in beat making that really is determined by timing and how a hip-hop song is structured.
So a hip-hop beat isn’t as easy as it seems to make. These are the basic fundamentals used to make a beat and it only gets more complex to make with the variety of musical tools on the market. Beat making is serious art and while people like Dr. Dre aren’t known for their clunky rap lyrics, it’s their beats that make them household names.