Hip-hop formed as a subculture in the Bronx area of New York City in the 1970s. Neighborhood block parties became a place where suburban communities could come together and share a mutual love for music, dance and street art. The likes of Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash emerged as the earliest DJs and influencers of the hip-hop scene.

Block parties were often a place for political activism and many emcees of the day used spoken word poetry and their trusty microphone to share their experiences over the music. Today, rapping has become a central part of hip-hop music and the realities of urban life and humble beginnings have remained common themes.

Since its early days, hip-hop has developed significantly as a genre. Rapping over sampled records is still common in live settings such as rap battles. Hip-hop producers like Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, and more recently Drake and Kendrick Lamar, have set new standards in the studio, changing what it means to be a 21st-century hip-hop artist.

Beyond just providing vocals, being in charge of the full creative process is much more important for emerging hip-hop artists. The great news is, with BandLab, there’s an ever-growing suite of free tools, sounds and loops, which allow you to be the artist you want to be.

Here, we’re going to show you how you can start creating hip-hop beats, even without any prior technical or musical knowledge. If you’re already a beatmaker, a loop master, or a rapper who needs a great backing track, you’re in the right place.

The Looper Hip-Hop Packs

If you don’t really know where to start when it comes to producing,  give the Looper on mobile a try. With a simple tap of a button or a swipe of the screen, you can create hip-hop music instantly.

BandLab looper

Right now there are 10 hip-hop packs for you to choose from, so whether your style is laid back, classic, trap or grime-inspired, select the Looper and the Hip-Hop filter to see only hip-hop sound packs. The sounds and loops in each pack have all been designed to fit together seamlessly, so you don’t have to worry about matching the loops or syncing the tempo.

BandLab hip-hop samples

Select the pack you like, download it and play around with it. Try tapping different combinations of buttons and swiping downwards to change full sections all at once. Once you are ready to record, hit record and perform your track.

Now you can listen to the full recording back, and if you need to, try again! Save it, share it, or write lyrics to rap over it. It really is that simple. You can check out our full tutorial series on the Looper, starting with part one, right here.

Hip-hop sound packs

If you have experience using digital audio workstations, or you prefer having more control over your loops, check out the Hip-Hop Sound Packs available in the Mix Editor. Open your desktop, and choose Browse Loops. Here you can choose from…

  • Trip-Hop Vol 1 & 2
  • Hip-Hop MIDI Pack
  • Hip-Hop Essentials
  • Grime Mega Pack
  • Modern Hip-Hop
  • Progressive Hip-Hop

All of these sound packs contain at least 50 loops and are free to use. This is a growing library of sounds, so check back regularly. Drag your favorite hip-hop loops onto the timeline to start producing your first hit.

BandLab search Hip-hop

If you’re new to this, start with one pack, because all the sounds are designed to sound great together. If you’re more confident, go ahead and mix them up. At any time, you can change the master key and tempo. This will change all loops at once to your chosen key or tempo in seconds.

Did you know? With MIDI Loops, you can change, add or delete notes, or even change the instrument if you need to. Just drag a MIDI loop into the timeline and play around with the notes or change the instruments to make the sound truly your own.

Drum Machine

What do Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock, Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing and Lil Wayne’s Let the Beat Build have in common? They were all created using the classic Roland TR-808 drum machine! The 808’s star-studded history is unsurprising. This classic drum machine is hard to beat – it’s even had a documentary made about it featuring some of the world’s best producers from a wide range of genres. It’s simple to use and you can create something magical in minutes. Head to the Mix Editor today on your desktop to give it a try.

Need Inspiration? Try listening to your favourite hip-hop beat and copying in the drum pattern on the drum machine. You can create up to eight patterns here (A-H), which is perfect for creating different variations and progressions and switching between them easily.

BandLab Hip-hop

For complete freedom of expression, choose the drum machine and lay down your own beat. If your looking for a drum beat that is a little more raw sounding, try the Hip-Hop Kit to give you more of a Busta Rhymes, or Wu-Tang Clan flavour.

Experiment: Try layering sounds from three of four kits across multiple tracks to make something truly unique.

So what are you waiting for!? Get creating your very first hip-hop hit on BandLab today.

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