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zircon

Anyone have any recommendations for hip-hop?

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I'm going to be doing a CD of hip hop instrumentals. Most likely NOT gangsta rap style stuff, but to be honest I don't listen to enough hip hop to really know what's current (I tend to find songs way later than everyone else.) Can people here name and preferably link to some examples of modern artists in this style? Specific songs/videos would be especially helpful. To be fair, I already know the REALLY mainstream ones, so maybe people a little less popular than Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Eminem. Underground hip hop is fine too.

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gnarls barkley is fantastic stuff, specifically their 'st. elsewhere' album. lots of creative audio there. they're obviously not instrumental tracks, but there's a lot going on in those tracks that can be applied to an instrumental piece.

afro samurai's OST comes to mind, too. pretty much anything by the RMZ is awesome. he was one of the guys in wu-tang clan a while back.

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YES! My kind of topic!

Ok, one good place to start is Stones Throw Records, which has a cult following of sorts. The main producers to look out for on this label are:

- J Dilla (RIP) [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw1_TOxDq14]

- Madlib (Also known as The Beat Konducta, Quasimoto, and Yesterday's New Quintet, one half of Madvillain) [

]

- MF DOOM (Not really on Stones Throw but he's worked with a lot of their artists, also known as Metal Fingers, Monster Island Czars, Viktor Vaughn, a lot of other stuff I'm not thinking of immediately) [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HBZ8yfPAHc]

- Oh No [

]

Another big label on the underground rap front is Definitive Jux, on which you'll find such producers as:

- Aesop Rock [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S99U3tz9h5A]

- Blockhead [

]

- El-P (Personal favorite) [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9b-ibeakUA]

- RJD2 (He left the label now but most of his good stuff was on it) [

]

Then there's this new wave of rap stuff, very heavily influenced by Dilla's work but taken in a completely new direction. This is really worthwhile stuff to get into but not very typical beats:

- Dabyre [

]

- Flying Lotus [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXMk5a3EW9o]

- Nosaj Thing [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmqcqTh8eVM]

EDIT: The mainstream (yet kinda underground) rappers to look out for in this are:

- Drake

- Kid Cudi

- Lupe Fiasco

- MURS

- Nas

- Pharrell

- Sean Price

- Wale

Plus there's those classic producers to check out, like DJ Premier, Dre, RZA, Timbaland, Dan the Automator, Prince Paul, DJ Jazzy Jeff, a load of other people I'm probably not mentioning because I just woke up.

So yeah, that should be a pretty solid list to get into it, and the main thing to remember is that the rap scene is interconnected not unlike 6 degrees of separation, so its worth seeing who collaborated with who and was on what label and was produced by who etc.. Also, the links are for tracks the person produced, there are a few of the producers I listed who are more notorious as rappers than producers.

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Wow, thanks for the detailed advice! Vagrance, VERY helpful links. Looks like the key elements are (1) lots of gritty, grainy MPC/vinyl/movie sampling and (2) phat kicks and snares that aren't necessarily drum machines.

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Vagrance pretty much hit the nail on the head. Not nearly as detailed as Vagrance but here are a few more:

Mos Def

Pharaoh Monch

Talib Kwali

Atmosphere

I don't know who produce their songs or albums but it sounds like you're lookin for those guys rather than the rappers themselves. I'm definitely quite interested in how you're goin to go about this seein as how I grew up with hip hop I need to do more hip hop stuff lol xD.

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Here's what I came up with after a few hours of work. Good start?

http://www.zirconstudios.com/music/wips/HH%20Track%201.mp3

Gonna do a variety of styles, but this one is more along the lines of that J Dilla stuff. Only thing I'm sort of confused on is the bassline.. not sure how to pull that off.

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For underground, I've gotta recommend OCR's own myf, aka Navi the Swami. I've always been a fan, but I caught him at a show last week and was highly impressed, especially with his production.

Also good from the same show was Flex Matthews. Not as interesting production, but still good from a lyrical standpoint.

And for the mainstream people I like for production, I agree with those that have mentioned Mos Def, or more specifically, people who have produced for him like The Neptunes, Kanye, and Hi-Tek (although lately Tek has moved away from the northern style hip hop I think you're after, into the southern club rap that you're probably not after). Also, Talib Kweli's producers on his album Quality were great. Kanye did at least one of those tracks.

EDIT: I like what you've got there Andy. It's got more of a syncopated feel than I'd associate with most hip-hop, but the artists that push boundaries moreso than others, like Lupe Fisco, would thrive on something like that.

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Again thanks for the tips guys! I updated the track with more.. stuff.

http://www.zirconstudios.com/music/wips/HH%20Track%201.mp3

Also, it's pretty cool that myf is doing so well. Funny to think that last time I saw him (in person) he was "Mythril Nazgul", a guy who was accused on OCR of sounding "too white" :P

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Wow, thanks for the detailed advice! Vagrance, VERY helpful links. Looks like the key elements are (1) lots of gritty, grainy MPC/vinyl/movie sampling and (2) phat kicks and snares that aren't necessarily drum machines.

No prob.

Here's what I came up with after a few hours of work. Good start?

http://www.zirconstudios.com/music/wips/HH%20Track%201.mp3

I'm digging it a lot, that said it doesn't really feel hip-hop if you get what I mean. If I was asked to classify it I'd associate it more along the lines of like, Royksopp or something.

I guess my advice on the subject would be to remember that hip-hop is a way of life, a culture not unlike rock and roll. There's more to hip-hop than rap, rapping was one of the last things to come from it but the most corporate. A lot of people dismiss rap music because they say there's no melody but the point isn't really the melody, its the groove and the feel, the vibe you get from the record. You don't necessarily want something technically impressive if there's no soul to it.

Iono, its hard to describe and take everything I say with a grain of salt because I'm a white kid from the suburbs like (I'm assuming) a fair majority on this site. I've recorded and talked to some local rappers about music, been to some hip-hop shows, listened to a lot of rap music, but I've only really been listening to it for like three or four years now.

afro samurai's OST comes to mind, too. pretty much anything by the RMZ is awesome. he was one of the guys in wu-tang clan a while back.

Lol, I assume you meant RZA who is more or less the head of the Wu-Tang Clan.

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I'm digging it a lot, that said it doesn't really feel hip-hop if you get what I mean. If I was asked to classify it I'd associate it more along the lines of like, Royksopp or something.

I guess my advice on the subject would be to remember that hip-hop is a way of life, a culture not unlike rock and roll. There's more to hip-hop than rap, rapping was one of the last things to come from it but the most corporate. A lot of people dismiss rap music because they say there's no melody but the point isn't really the melody, its the groove and the feel, the vibe you get from the record. You don't necessarily want something technically impressive if there's no soul to it.

Iono, its hard to describe and take everything I say with a grain of salt because I'm a white kid from the suburbs like (I'm assuming) a fair majority on this site. I've recorded and talked to some local rappers about music, been to some hip-hop shows, listened to a lot of rap music, but I've only really been listening to it for like three or four years now.

I agree with you. Zircon, I think what you've got at this point sounds nice, and it sounds like what you're going for is turntablism.

In my opnion, the drums sound a little too subdued, and feel like the kick and snare should come in at the same time as the cymbals. The kick and snare pattern sounds greate, but in this case I don't think the rimshot/woodblock/clave (whatever it is). The fill at :46 is also kinda giving me more of an "easy listening" feel, rather than hip-hoppy, and for me there's something about the soundscape after the crash at 1:46 that's just accentuating that feel...I think you may have too much going on in general, and at 1:46 it comes to a head. I also think that harp or whatever isn't fitting in well as it is (sorry, I don't have the vocabulary to better express what I'm trying to get across). The breakdown 1:26 isn't bad. A couple of suggestions...

-Thin it a bit, and don't try to force an addition or a transition too quickly - from my perspective, turntablism is generally a medium that has a slow progression from one idea to the next.

-Change your fills.

-Do something about that harp.

I'm also getting the feeling a track like this is meant to be instrumental-only. As it is, I can't see rhyming on top of it.

It's a good starting point. Check out some DJ Shadow as well, Nujabes, or DJ Krush - it sounds like that's kind of the style you're leaning towards, and that should help you get some ideas.

Hope it helps!

BlackPanther - Hi-Tek does production for Talib Kweli right? Obviously, he did it for Black Star, and I think at least he produced the old stuff.

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Yep, to be clear this is supposed to be an instrumental only. I'm writing for a company that is specifically asking for "hip hop instrumentals" for media licensing (TV, film, games, etc.) Unfortunately I can't take the harp out because that first phrase you hear right at the beginning is just one big sample. The whole track is pretty much built around that sample so I can't change it, but I appreciate the advice on that anyway.

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Rick Ross/John Legend - Magnificent (instrumental) *More RnBish

Twista/Pharrell - Lavish (instrumental) *Repetitious to a slight degree but the vibe is right.

*this has a UK/Midwest/Techno/Jungle style beat, usually for fast vocals (rap) or singing. I think the musical style here might suit you VERY WELL. The beat is EXCELLENT, and I mean EXCELLENT! Seriously, it (could be an actual drum loop but it) simulates actual drum play with a randomness that kicks ass!

Eminem - Beautiful (instrumental)

Lupe Fiasco - Shining Down (instrumental) *Another HIGH RECOMMENDATION! Goes well with your style.

Lupe Fiasco - The Coolest (instrumental)

Lupe Fiasco - Sunshine (instrumental)

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A lot of my favorites have been mentioned already, but no one's mentioned Charizma and Peanut Butter Wolf.

"What is an MC if he can't rap?"

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MF Doom has about 8 instrumental CDs, and while I'm not a huge fan of his lyrics sometimes, his beats are pretty solid.

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=6C7E565E69E0BE4D&search_query=MF+Doom+special+herbs <--- pretty much this whole thing.

Nujabes is a no brainer:

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=3A6531EE11547BC0&search_query=Nujabes

9th Wonder ('cause he's been usin' FL Studio for years now <3):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2gY3tYPFuw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpqhqD7Jd7o

I've always been a fan of Ant (of Atmosphere):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TohGbyRcWo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtTdUGk6CMs

And Aesop Rock is less what you're looking for but awesome:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkuOeSjnSI4

Also: ABSOLUTELY yes to Dan the Automater, Deltron 3030 is one of the BEST hip-hop albums ever.

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Wow, absolutely great guys. Keep 'em coming. I'm soaking it all in!

Now I'm working on a more mainstream track, closer to 50 Cent or something.

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A lot of stuff mentioned in this thread is great, but not a lot of rap/R&B songs based on sampled beats and real drums are charting right now. If it's for media licensing and you're going for variety rather than a consistent style, I would definitely put some 80's drum machine and synth-based stuff in there too. Most of R&B these days uses that style, and a good deal of rap too. Rap songs usually have just the drum machine beats plus some minimal elements, R&B songs usually have more going on. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hip_hop_music#Crunk_and_snap_music. This section of the hip-hop music Wikipedia article has a decent description of what I mean, though I'm sure you know what I'm talking about already, it's pretty inescapable. Maybe this is what you meant by saying that you know the most popular stuff.

If you want some examples, you can listen to pretty much half the songs on here: http://www.billboard.com/#/charts/r-b-hip-hop-songs.

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Yep, to be clear this is supposed to be an instrumental only. I'm writing for a company that is specifically asking for "hip hop instrumentals" for media licensing (TV, film, games, etc.)

In that case a lot of what I said about "feel" and "groove" can likely be ignored and you'll probably want a lot more melodic content, I was speaking purely from a "me and my boys are putting out a rap album and I produced it" perspective.

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