One of the most common mistakes of young producers making rap beats is to drop the finished beat before they rap. With a powerful groovebox like Beat Thang, it's tempting to fill the beats with as many drum loops, samples, and effects as possible. But this isn't electronica, it's "making 'ur' own rap beats."
So don't forget to rap early on or you won't have any room left to rap. It's what mixers call a science project: too many tracks because somewhere along the way the producer lost sight of the project. Start with a basic rap beat; say a drum loop and bass.
Once you've got the drum loop bangin', do a scratch rap track and make it as close to finished as you can. Once you have the drum loop, bass, and rap track, then you can start filling in the empty spaces. Remember, rap beats are all about drum beats and words. You don't want your beats stepping all over your rap.
Compression, New York style
Parallel, or New York compression* can make electronic drums, drum loops, and virtual drums sound big and punchy without loss of dynamics. In your DAW, MIDI sequencer, or Beat Thang, record a drum track or drum loop and copy it. On the drum loop copy, apply heavy compression (8:1 - 20:1 ratio) with a fast attack and release. Also, apply EQ, boosting at 80Hz and 10kHz.
Resample the compressed drum loop back into Beat Thang and mix it in with the original drum loop. You just want to sneak it up in there until you hear the drum loop fill out the stereo field and get punchier. To save tracks, you can resample both drum loops onto one track.
Buying the best beats
Before we part company, let's talk price and availability. Beat Thang isn't cheap--no professional-level studio gear is. But when you consider that one day in a world-class studio will run you $1,500, or a decent home project studio will cost $10,000 for low, Beat Thang is a bargain at twice the price.
Beat Thang is available at Best Buy. Another surprise, I know. But I do know something about the negotiating practices of the huge music retailers. They're not happy unless the other guy is crying. That makes it hard for a startup company to get off the ground. So kudos to Best Buy for giving the little guy a chance to get on his feet.
And for you, future Beat Thang owner, it means that The Beat Kangz will be around to support their products.
By: Darius Van Rhuehl
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Darius Van Rhuehl is the owner of Backhouse Productions and also a producer of pop, rap beats, hip-hop beats, and R&B beats for TV. He attended the Juilliard School of Music and has studied music production from multi-platinum producer Michael Wagener.To learn more about Beat Thang, go to beatthang.com.