So you want to mix a hip hop or rap beat? Unfortunately, it’s not as simple a process as it may seem. To produce high-quality sound music production to emulate hip-hop culture you’ll need a number of tools.
But don’t get discouraged! The good news is that, unlike other music genres, it’s fairly easy to become a DJ mixer or music producer and create good-quality hip hop beats with equipment you can keep at home in no time—no studio visits or buying expensive drum machines are necessary!
Additionally, a good idea is start with a few music samples of songs and the most basic equipment pieces, which we’ll tell you all about, and then you can build your home studio from there to set you on your way to becoming a sound engineer or the next Dr Dre. While you do need equipment, we’ll point you to sound options that won’t break the bank.
This is What You’ll Need To Get Started:
This is the basic piece of equipment you’ll need to run your recording and mixing program and to coordinate with all of your other tools. Think of it as the general of your rap beat equipment army—all decisions run through it.
A MAC computer is ideal and typically used by top-of-the-line producers. However, any computer (or even a laptop) with a fast processor and enough memory will do the trick.
Look for computers with at least 2 GB of RAM and the latest processor. If you tell the store clerk at your local Best Buy that you’ll be using the computer to mix rap beats, they should be able to point you in the right direction.
Our Recommendation: Macbook Pro or virtually any PC with an up-to-date processor and at least 2 GB RAM
The computer is just the beginning. You’ll also need to purchase a program, which is what you’ll actually record and mix the beats on. Often referred to as a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), this piece of equipment is what will actually enable you to produce complex sound and to record your tracks.
If you’re using a Mac, Logic Pro is the optimal software tool. For PCs, you can try FL Studio. There are plenty of video tutorials for both on YouTube. Investing in a quality program is well worth it—your sound will suffer without it.
Our Recommendation: FL Studio OR Logic Pro
3) Studio Speaker Monitors
Your regular computer speakers won’t cut it. To record quality sound, you’ll need studio monitors. You’ll need at least two for studio-recorded quality feel. They should be placed on either side of your microphone, equally distant from where you’ll be playing out your recording. Ideally, you want to also place them a few feet away from any walls to reduce echo.
Studio monitor speakers don’t come cheap but you do need them. Ordinary speakers just won’t pick up the details of all of the sound you lay on your tracks.
Our Recommendation: JBL LSR series
This is your must-have piece of equipment. If you can’t afford anything else, buy a keyboard to start practicing your skills. Strike that. If you intend to start making rap beats and you have never tried to do so using a keyboard, buy this piece of equipment and ONLY this piece of equipment FIRST.
Without the recording equipment, you won’t be able to practice producing anything complex or layering beats over each other, but you will be able to get a feel for rhythm and the creative process of making your own stuff.
The best keyboards for rap beats are typically known as MIDI controllers and contain percussion variability as well. In the absence of a true MIDI controller, you should look for a keyboard that also has drum pads or, alternatively, you can purchase drum pads separately.
Our Recommendation: M-Audio Oxygen series
OK, technically you don’t need headphones, but they will make your job a whole lot easier and will probably boost the quality of your sound. With quality headphones, you’ll be able to experience your music as the listener will hear it.
Listening to your beats with headphones will also enable you to hear elements you would have difficulty hearing without them. This can help you to add more depth to your music. As an added bonus, when you mix with headphones your neighbors won’t come knocking.c
Headphones can be purchased at a range of prices. If you’re going to invest in a pair, you don’t need to buy the highest end option available, but don’t go cheap either.
Our Recommendation: Pairs by Sennheiser or AKG
6) Audio Interface
As you become more proficient, you may notice that there is a delay between the time that your fingers hit the keyboard note and you hear that note in your headphones. This can impinge upon your ability to produce quality work, so you may choose to purchase an audio interface, which reduces the delay.
This is essentially a box which provides what’s known as ‘low latency’ for your other recording devices. It also lends additional power to all of your devices, acting as a sort of middleman between them and your computer.
Our Recommendation: UAD Apollo series
7) Music Theory
OK, this last one isn’t sexy (and it’s technically not equipment), but it is important. If you think that you have a good ear and that you’re going to be able to produce awesome rap beats right off the cuff,
you’re probably wrong. Yes, prodigies exist but, for the most part, a basic understanding of music theory can be very helpful. Don’t believe us? Buy that keyboard and try it out.
Even if you have some decent natural talent, you’ll be able to take it a lot further, faster with the right knowledge base.A simple Google or YouTube search will get you started in learning everything you need to know. Once you have an idea of basic song structure and how to construct basic beats, you can feel free to take some creative license and start creating on your own.