What Makes A Beat A Hip Hop Beat?

So, what makes a beat hip hop?


Is there a certain way beats are sequenced that make them hip hop? Can any beat be considered hip hop? What is a hip hop beat? Hip hop is hard to define but we all know it when we hear it.


With other beats it is easy to classify them. For instance a shuffle beat is distinguished by accenting second and fourth beats of every measure. A rock beat emphasizes a back-beat by placing the snare drum on beat 2 and 4 and the kick drum on beats 1 and 3.


With hip hop, it is a bit different because from early on hip hop relied on borrowing from any genre of music it felt added something to the beat. It was sort of an audio collage.


Hip Hop Is...


Hip Hop started in the Bronx in the 1970's and it is basically a beat track accompanied by spoken poetry. The funny thing is, that even though that may be an accurate definition technically, hip hop is far more than that.


Even the poetry needs to have a certain feel to it or rhythm structure and it needs attitude to begin to make it hip hop. Unlike most other pop music, hip hop is regional. In other words there is west coast hip hop, east coast hip hop and southern hip hop and any hip hop enthusiast can tell you right away which region the music has come from.


Expression of passion, pain and joy


Most people who criticize hip hop may misunderstand it, assuming that it is always about gangs, killing and violence. True, there are these elements in it, but show me a genre of music where this isn't present. Remember Modest Mussorgsky's Night On Bald Mountain which tells of a witches' sabbath taking place on St. John's Night (June 23-24) on the Lysa Hora (Bald Mountain), near Kiev. Even folk music has songs like The Banks of the Ohio which is the gory tale of murdering one's own lover.


Hip hop is more than just gangster rap. It is really an expression of passion whether it is joyful or painful. It is this expression that resonates with its listeners and makes it such a popular form of expression.


Making a Hip Hop Beat


When you set about to make a hip hop beat, you need to start with an emotion that you want to express. This will inform your beat all the way through. If you are angry then your beat needs to communicate that. Don't use samples of The Blue Danube in it. If your emotion is to be joy then select joyful sound samples to include.


Underneath all of that remember to give it a pinch of attitude and a load of cool. It is important that you assemble all of your sounds into one track and this is also not as hard to do as it was in the 1970's


Just select an excellent beat maker, software you can download on to your PC, and get to work. Avoid the free beat makers since they usually pretty weak. Don't go broke either. Just get good software for around $50 or less and that should do.


Nadel Paris is an EDM artist and a music producer. Nadel writes about music and its genres, other related topics and shares her experience she has over the years. Her new album “Ooh La La La La” is now available for purchase on iTunes. It features remixes by your favorite EDM DJ’s like Ray Rhodes, Pascal, Starbright, Cyphonix, Drew G and DJ M. Chicago.