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Hip Hop Tools and Techniques


Blog Post: 

I've never been much of a hip hop producer.  I've never had an MPC or used samples very often.  I've done a bit of sample chopping, but it's typically been my own performances, chopped up and rearranged.  I've tried to make hip-hop from scratch and hopefully those compositions did offend anyone with the label of 'hip hop'.  I've always felt that something is missing in my track - maybe what is missing is 'the sample'.  Not just a drum hit, but samples of dense, textured and rich sounds from the mid to late 1900's.  

This last week, I picked up the Native Instrument's Maschine - a software/hardware combo.  It's a grid controller that lets you sample, sequence and effect sounds without much looking at a computer, which it needs to be plugged into.  It comes with a nice variety of sounds, both percussion and one hit samples.  It's a fun box that has a really nice feel.  I played on one a few years ago when the first came out, but was just getting the Ableton APC40 controller at the time.  In the past few years, the software has been updated, pushing past some bugs and performance difficulties.  The standalone software has been a delight so far - not a single crash in over 20 hours of use.  The plugin has had some latency issues inside Logic, but they have been short lived.

A couple things I've come across this weekend while exploring this piece of gear are worth sharing.  5th Seal's vLog, showing how he samples and arranges sounds on his MPC, which the Maschine can mimic.  I was in need of some Acapellas to put over some beats I'd been working on.  I went to the pirate bay, searched for 'Acapella' and sorted by 'seeders' - this gave a 6GB library of hip hop acapellas.  I use uTorrent to download the torrent contents and then remove the torrent when done.  If you leave the completed torrent in your uTorrent client, you'll be uploading whatever you downloaded to other users - so be warned of the legal and technical impacts of that (uploads will kill your gaming experience!).

About half of them are horrible quality, but the rest are usable.  Now to categorize by BPM.  There are other sources of Acapellas out there, you just have to do some looking. Acapella Archives had a nice little selection of vocals to choose from if you can suffer through the rapidshare downloads - no wait on the rapid share, which I remember for some reason.

Happy beatmaking.