Hip Hop Prod. 101 - The Bangin' Beat ! Pt. 1



Presented by Bigg Rome to perserve the community and to ward off all wackness by spreading the basic knowledge that I have acquired over a lengthy stay on Future Producers.com. May you never be wack and laughed at behind your back again... on to the lesson.

The Bangin’ Beat - Part MF'n! 1

What makes a beat bang? Is it the feel of the beat and how it relates to the people it reaches? When you hear a Dr. Dre beat and Nate Dogg and Snoop lace it… did the beat hit you before Nate and Snoop? Well, I’ll tell you what makes a bangin’ beat. Even though, I’m no master but I’m not that bad.

First, you must have a decent percussion rhythm where all of the instruments compliment each other. So often in Hip Hop I hear people use a kick, snare and hi-hat and that’s the foundation of what they think is going to be something special. Most don’t take the time to add some subtlety like maybe a shaker, a ride, a cymbal, etc. The core beat should not be over crowded. Sparse hi-hats are the key to letting the artist through to shine. Also, the higher the bpm of the song the more aggressive the pattern should be. The slower the bpm is the more subtle the pattern should be. Instrument selection is key.

Next, your percussion pattern is important. Hi-hats should always be played by hand to give your song a more natural feel. Don’t go back and quantize them either. Kicks and snares can be quantized but the instruments around them will have a better feel if you play them by hand. You can get away by playing one bar and copying and pasting that bar throughout the song. Most Hip Hop patterns have been recycled since the early 80’s. I rarely hear a new and exciting pattern in Hip Hop… but I hear exciting patterns all of the time in other genre’s of music. It would do you good to borrow a pattern from another genre every now and then. I normally use basic patterns because I want my songs lyrically driven so I don’t add to much confusion to the patterns. What makes the recycled patterns work for years and years is the percussion instrument selection. Using your favorite kicks and snares over and over will stifle your creativity… believe me, I know because I use the same kicks and snares all of the time even though I know I shouldn’t.

Bassline, if your going to have a song that fits the 2000 watt systems that most cars and clubs have… the way to get people to groove along is to have a decent but not overpowering bassline. Something gritty always works even if you can barely hear it. You should also add another instrument that plays along with the same pattern as your bassline. Use a piano or guitar or any sound you can find. If your bassline is sort of complex, take out some of the hits of the complimenting instrument.

This is the foundation. You now have your low end and head nodding factor established from your bassline and percussion pattern… that uses drums that sound up to date. Normally, you can just jack snares and hi-hats from popular songs on the radio. It’s a good practice… you get the sounds the pro’s use. Most of the kits people sell are jacks from songs that have already been produced. Fire up your audio editor and get busy.

Next focus on your mid range sounds. This is the part of the song you want people to remember. This is what the hook should be made from. Move up an octave or two from the octave you used to make your bassline and play around with traditional instruments. The pattern should be simple enough to not clash with the bassline. Any sound will work here. This gives your song the “feeling” it’s going to have. You should think about someone rapping when you add your mid range section. You can rap one of your favorite verses over it while you’re making the pattern to see if it’s funky. Name the song after you make this part.

Next, focus on the highs. The sound that will tickle the tweeters and get stuck into someone’s head. Think Lil Jon and those loud synths like on Snap Ya Fingers. These patterns should have the most flair but shouldn’t play throughout the whole song. They should come in sporadically like people are waiting for that “one little part” to play again. Add effects to this section.

Lastly, add some pads or sounds that sweep through the song to give it more cohesion. It’s can be a dark sounding pad or a high pitched sound. Mid range sounds don’t work well for meshing a song together.

When you’re all done you should sequence your song in a basic pattern. Then you should go back and add drop-outs and take out different instruments at certain points. You should build your hook during sequencing. You should add any sound effects that will compliment the name / mood of the song. Things like police sirens, preachers, dogs, guns or whatever. Then you critique the song until it’s ready to be mixed.

You mix the song the next day. Turn everything down in the song… turn off the TV in your room and raise the levels until you get something decent. Then you can add exciters, automation and anything your heart desires. I normally like to add sample voices that are saying something that relates to the title of the song but doing so steers your song into one direction. So you may limit an artist by using sampled voices.

You can make better beats if you spent more time on selecting sounds that go together… listen to your song and then honestly ask yourself if anybody would want it. Don’t rely on what people on the web say. You know if you’re lying to yourself or not. Don’t think you can luck up and fool some emcee into loving your stuff if you know it’s not up to par. Don’t give yourself time limits on songs either. Work on it until you’re satisfied with it and you know it’s the best you are capable of. People on the web will lie to you. I would suggest that you find a web forum that you are not a member of and post your songs there and get reviews from people that normally don’t joke with you and want to spare your feelings about how wack a song is or will tell you that your song is hot because they consider you a friend.

Next, stack your song up right behind Timbaland’s and Dre’s as a remix of another song and see if people react like WTF is that crap when it comes on… you’ll know whether your in the ballpark of making quality work.

... and if you get bored at work like I was when I typed this... you too should try to help out the FP community, lol.

... and if you saw typo's and words used out of context... it's because I was trying not to get caught typing this...

Check me out and add me as a friend on myspace.



by Bigg Rome - Check it out... not my best but my latest...
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^ Great Read...Thanks for posting...

Although I do everything you mentioned naturally....especially the last part of comparitive analysis.

However, I would like to add...you really have to listen to a lot of music to get a good grip on sound selection and what works toghether and even why it works toghether...

The thing most people don't realize is that what differentiates a good beat from a great beat is the subtle things that you don't hear....
DS Speed-Freak said:
The thing most people don't realize is that what differentiates a good beat from a great beat is the subtle things that you don't hear....

Yep, like the TELL ME WHEN TO GO beat wouldn't grab people as much without that triangle that's in it.... most people probably don't care that it's there but if you take it out... that beat would be bland.
great post rome.. this was classic
derseves a sticky..

sh*t i mite must do an R & B prod. 101 lol...

and im addin u as a friend rite now lol
Yo Rome. I'm thinking of throwing this up as a Sticky.

This seems really great for the *getting started* forum or I can stick it here if you think so as well..

Lemmie know. Good info here.
It's better suited for the Getting Started forum. It's something people can try... they'll tweak and find their way from there. I had no help at all when I started out. Making beats was some sort of secret where nobody wanted to share any methods or anything.

It's a cookie cutter method but it works for a whole song with lyrics. Sometimes as a standalone beat you have to do more.

I feel the artist should be exciting enough to be the last piece to the puzzle anyway.

Yeah, man. Sticky this thang in the Getting Started section for awhile. Preciate it.
No problem. I'm glad you guys aren't all like "That nigga don't know shat..." lol.

Take it easy. Thanks for checking it out.
It was the same when I started. I'm not sure if the info was available or not but I didn't have it lol. I had no idea where to look. Reading the manual did alot for me, but thanks this was a good post for someone beggining as a producer.