Over the years, hip hop has become one of the most consumed music genres. Its mainstream popularity can be established from the fact that pretty much all the music that you hear nowadays has bits and pieces of hip hop and rap in it. Rap is an essentially complex artform that was incredibly underrated in the past. Today, platforms like YouTube and Spotify have brought a diverse assortment of music to our fingertips – something which was only a dream back in the days of vinyl records.
When you casually listen to your favorite tracks by Tupac, Kendrick, or Jay-Z, you might assume that it is a pretty basic music construction. However, if you have had any experience with creating hip hop beats yourself, you would likely understand that building something fresh, relevant, authentic, and propelling is not an easy task – where exactly do you begin?
Here we have put together some useful advice and tips to help you create the best hip hop trap beats that exude power and funk.
Find Your Inspiration
Something common that you will observe in musicians that are renowned and successful across the globe is a distinctive or definitive approach and style. In other words, they have found their musical voice and inspiration. Finding your individualistic music voice is what sets your beats apart from the rest and attracts the target audience.
It is, therefore, incredibly crucial that you search for an influence that ignites passion inside you. Observe and research what makes the producer, musician, or composer sound a certain way and apply that knowledge and insight to what you do with your music. Brushing up on the theory of different beats and studying various styles that inspire you will help you develop a fresh perspective on the hip hop beats that you end up creating.
Study Drums and Other Instruments
Most hip-hop producers will tell you that they create their beats around the drums that they add to their tracks. Others might tell you that they compose the melodies before adding the drum. Irrespective of the particular approach that a producer might take, drums play an essential part in giving your hip hop track a flow and also guiding other instruments as you develop the track.
Hip hop beats normally consist of snares, kick drums, and hi-hats. It is important that you select high-quality samples as these are the building blocks for creating a professional-sounding trap beat. You also have the option of producing a beat with a melody or sample – follow an approach that is more convenient and one that aligns well with your vision for the music piece.
Create A Sound Library
Software-based digital instruments, keyboard synthesizers, and DVDs jammed with some of the most exotic drum tracks – the sounds that you use to create your own authentic trap beat can come from a wide range of sources. When developing a curated sound library for your music, try to keep it as unique, diverse, and deep as possible. Learn about different and innovative instruments, what they sound like, and how you can use them to create a killer hip hop beat.
Don’t be excessively cautious when putting together a sound collection, as anything unusual or eccentric can be used as an interesting sound element in your music. A new and unique sound can add a special spark to your composition, and using different sounds, in general, incorporates a sense of authenticity and creativity to your beats.
Don’t Forget to Pan
Many musicians overlook the significance of panning. Today, many hip-hop records just sound like a big mono track. It doesn’t matter whether your drum sounds like a classic Roland TR-808 drum machine or an acoustic drum kit – or somewhere in between – you must pan your drum sounds depending on how they would show up on stage. You need to develop a panning arrangement that gives everything its due space.
It is a good idea to pan your sounds from a drummer’s viewpoint. You would create something like this:
- Kick and snares in the middle.
- Hi-hat towards the left.
- Toms towards the right, with varying amounts of panning, if you are using different toms. Toms are not as common in hip-hop and trap.
- Crashes towards the right.
Bonus tip: If you are not sure as to where to pan a specific drum sound, listen to a couple of classic jazz albums on a good set of headphones and closely focus on where all the sonic platforms are placed.
Be Aware of Mono and Stereo
When you are recording a sample that comes from an individual point source – such as a snare or kick – just record it as a mono track, followed by slight panning. If you are trying to record a kick sound in the stereo, you are essentially recording two similar mono tracks combined together. If you are not using two mics and the source is not stereo, you record in mono. Recording in stereo, in this case, is only going to make your panning-summing sound louder.
Avoid Sloppy Tuning
Professional musicians struggle to find work if their beats sound sloppy and have a low bar for their performance. What do you think is the ingredient that sets a musician apart from the crowd? According to some of the world-famous music factors, there are a handful of factors that play a crucial role in this regard: consistent individual practice, valuing musical perfection, repetition of problem areas, and much more.
In the pursuit of creating an innovative sound, hip hop producers often alter the tuning of their sample, making it sound lower or higher in pitch as compared to the original sound. They will slow down or detune a sample beyond a point of recognition. Although there is nothing wrong with that, it is important that you find and practice your notes on the piano so that when you do detune your sample, it is tuned to an actual note and sounds authentic.
There is no fixed formula for making music. The process of making music, learning a new instrument, creating unique beats, and sharing them with the world comes with a lot of rigid predictability – there is a great deal of discipline, regular practice, time management, and playing the same music repeatedly until you get it right. While sticking to the rules and a general sense of predictability is great as far as maintaining a particular music project is concerned, if you want to develop creative music, it can be more of a burden than a strength. Experimenting is the key to developing creative music that doesn’t sound rigidly manufactured. Mix and match different sounds, try to use instruments that you never considered before for your music project, and allow yourself some room to explore new things and ideas. At the end of the day, your inherent creativity is what compelled you to become a musician in the first place.