So you wanna make your own rap beats do ya? Well, welcome to the club. Music-making has expanded greatly over the years and now just about anybody can jump and get involved in the game without much damage to your wallet. Here’s my guide for anybody looking to start laying down some magic with some tips on how you can make your own rap beats.
All You Need is…
A lot of people wonder exactly what it takes to get started and that has become one of the easiest things to do when it comes to digital music production. Yes, a digital audio workstation (remember…DAW for short) is comprised of many different components including monitors, an audio interface and a microphone and stuff, but when you break it down, a laptop and beat making software is all you need to get yourself off the ground.
You don’t even need to start off with the most high-end platform available too. Reason, Cubase (pictured) and even good old names like FL Studio and Magix Music Maker are perfect for anyone trying to get to grips with their new found craft. Most of them will even allow you to use your own computer keyboard as a piano keyboard, typically turning keys A-K into their own octave of black & white. You’ll want more as you advance but for a start, that’s basically it.
There’s More Than One Kind of Music…
Don’t limit yourself by only listening to Hip-Hop. The world is full of all kinds of genres of music and it comes in all different shapes and sizes (err…metaphorically speaking). So take the time to listen to other artists that you wouldn’t normally find on your playlist. From dancehall to EDM (Electronic Dance Music…just in case) to rock and even classical. It doesn’t even need to be from this decade. Personally, I find myself often going back to the 90’s.
My age only had a single digit back then so I love to take a trip back to that era and listen to what was “hot” back then. And once you’ve found something new I guarantee you can dig deeper into the many sub-genres that stem from it. Metal isn’t as black and white as it was 60 years ago and the same could be said for EDM (formally known as Disco…like, for real!). People are out there coming up with brand new combinations every day and you might just end up being one of them.
I try to soak in a few acts that combine rap and hip-hop with their sound. Bands like Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit, even Rage Against the Machine and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Split Your Focus…
Try to avoid what I like to call: The Tunnel effect. You can easily find yourself stuck trying to perfect one particular aspect of your song that you desperately try to get right, only to wind up frustrated and annoyed, filled with self-doubt and ready to throw away what you once believed was your next masterpiece. Pretty soon the art you once enjoyed will start to feel like a gigantic creative chore (and we don’t want that, do we?). If you’re like me then you got into this for the love of creating music (right?) so let’s not let that fade away.
Split your focus between 3 or 4 projects at a time. Better yet, stick with your song for as long as you’ve got that inspiration train going and stop once you feel that bad boy begin to slow down. Switch to another track (…get it?) and keep the momentum going. One idea might influence another in some small way and you’ll end up creating something that sounds nothing like what you intended because it’s a million times better.
“I Didn’t Recognise You From This Angle…”
Trust me when I say, there are many paths you can take to get to the song you want. So use as many of them as you can. Try to start each beat from a different point to keep your creativity versatile. Most of us would start off with the drums (probably first with a kick and a snare, then some high hats and so on and so on) but why not, instead, start off with the lyrics first.
Rap or sing and let the melody come naturally to your mind. You’ll find yourself going straight a cappella, performing to music only you can hear, music you are going to bring to life in a new song. What about if you have the melody but haven’t written the lyrics yet? Doesn’t matter! If you can hum it, I bet you can make it into a song. The possibilities are endless so let your imagination do the hard work, okay?
Make Sure You Enjoy it…
At the end of the day, what we do is an art. If you don’t like your painting then why would anyone else? So make sure you love the music you make or don’t even bother. Treat it like a job and you’re going to hate it eventually (just like everybody else grinding out a 9 to 5). Making a living off your sound is a long and difficult process and it’s in the more advanced stages of creating music that you’re really going to have to knuckle down and keep on pushing to get to where you wanna go so enjoying as much of the creative process as you can is key. After all, it’s the reason why you’re going to keep coming back.
Got any more questions or want to share your experiences. Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.
Ryan C. Voller, Recording Artist – Producer – Creator/Contributor for HTMH.com