By Ben Ingram
So you want to get into hip-hop/rap/R&B production and you don’t really know how? Well, it’s way easier than you may think. With just a few items, you could be well on your way to being the next Timbaland, Dre, or Alchemist.
So where do you start? First off, you need to make sure you have the right software. A lot of people out there like to sample beats and use other people’s music, but you want to be original. At least in the beginning, because if you are like I was, you probably want to develop your own style. Here is my list of the essential start-up software you need to make beats:
Reason 4.0 – Propellerhead’s Reason is one of the most dynamic pieces of software you can have in your arsenal. It’s relatively inexpensive, yet it allows you to produce nearly any sound you can think of via a vast range of synths, drum machines, and effects. It is very user friendly, and produces a powerful, professional sound. Nearly every major producer has used Reason at one point in his or her career.
Fruity Loops Studio – Many producers use Fruity Loops to create entire productions. What really separates FL from Reason is that it has the ability to become a VST instrument when used with some mixing and recording programs such as Cubase or Pro-Tools. (These are the crème’ de la crème’ – but not necessities when you are just starting out)
Sony ACID Pro – This is a cool application that allows you to manipulate the beats you created in Reason or FL. It is user friendly as well and works great on any system.
That’s pretty much it for making beats. My choice is Reason, but as you try them all out, you may find that you like FL Studio better or a combination of the two. Its all about finding what you are most comfortable with. Now, you have your software and have made a sick beat. Now what? The following is my recommendation for recording & mixing software:
Adobe Audition – This used to be called Cool Edit Pro. It uses a very simple interface in which you are able to load your beat tracks and record your vocal tracks. This can also be great if you want to use live instruments in addition to your beats.
That’s really all you need for software. Something to make the music, and something to record it on. Now, you ask, what about hardware?
Samson CO1 Cardiod Condenser Microphone – This is a great studio mic. It runs about $70 and sounds great. Make sure to get a few cables, boom stand, and wind screen. (about $50) total.
Samson S 48v Phantom Power Supply – You will need this to power your mic. Since studio mics create their own power, the phantom power source is basically the device that harnesses that power and sends it through your mic.
Any MIDI capable keyboard – This is one of the tools you will use with Reason or Fruity Loops to make beats. MIDI will allow you to play the sound files on your keyboard, rather than on your computer. Make sure to also get a MIDI to USB cable so that you can attach it to your sound card.
M Audio Audiophile 2496 Interface – This is your awesome sound card. It runs less than a hundred bucks and allows you to hook up all your gear to your pc.
Samson Resolv 40a Active Studio Monitors – While ordinary stereo speakers will do just fine, these all you to hear exactly how your tracks will sound when played over your mp3 player, radio, or local club.
And that’s it! You have all you need to get started.