Learn to produce hip-hop tracks! This book traces the technological evolution of hip-hop from its inception to contemporary times, from its roots in New York and L.A. to its variations worldwide. You will explore the hits of the major eras and regional subgenres of hip-hop, identifying the production practices and products that defined each stylistic sound. Directed practice exercises and downloadable online audio tracks will give you hands-on experience with hip-hop’s classic tools, while you develop your own production style.
From “Rappers Delight” to “Old Town Road,” from Afrika Bambaataa to Drake, from Kanye West to DJ Mustard, from Salt-N-Pepa to Cardi B., you’ll identify the tools and techniques of hip-hop’s most influential producers and learn many ways to lend authenticity and life to your own beats.
You will learn to:
- Evoke the sounds of different hip-hop styles by using the classic gear and techniques that characterized each era and regional variation.
- Identify and understand the historical context of the primary technological innovations that defined the major hip-hop eras and styles, from the early live band era, through drum machines, synths, MIDI, sampling, and up to DAW-based production.
- Identify some of the most historically important hip-hop instruments, such as the Roland TR-808, the Linn LM-1, the Akai MPC, the Akai S900, and others), which you can still use in your beats—in either their original form or now more commonly as DAW plug-ins.
- Improve your vocal production skills for rapping, hype tracks, ad libs, choruses, and the use of Auto-Tune as a hip-hop innovation.
- Use tempo, rhythmic feel, sonic density, and the three dimensions of production to define and evoke various hip-hop styles.
- Improve your beats through mixing techniques such as level matching, complex panning, pitched EQ, parallel compression, TCE editing, time-based effects processing, and more.
Prince Charles Alexander is a multiple Grammy winning musician, songwriter, recording artist, record producer, audio engineer, author, and educator. He is a professor in the Music Production and Engineering Department at Berklee College of Music, where he has mentored thousands of music producers.
“This hip-hop textbook is an incredible and wonderful exploration into the culture. A must-read for anyone needing facts of information about how the hip-hop clock ticks.”
—Minister Kurtis Blow Walker, Rapper, Songwriter, Producer, DJ, and Minister
“Prince Charles has provided an excellent and extensive book on hip hop music, its production techniques, and its history. It’s a must read manual for future and even seasoned producers that have a quest to become lifelong students of this amazing genre.”
—Hank Shocklee, Music Producer, Hip-Hop Innovator, Founding Member of Public Enemy and the Bomb Squad
“With beats and instrumentals being such a focal point for hip-hop, vocal production sometimes gets overlooked as a major element contributing to the success of the hip-hop genre. Prince Charles gives equal weight to this aspect of the craft in this book. In this way, he makes a clear distinction between making hip-hop beats and making hip-hop records.
“Although hip-hop production practices ebb and flow with the times, Prince Charles’s Inside the Beats offers a solid technical analysis of techniques and tricks of the trade that can apply across sonic eras and musical genres. Through focusing on the specifics of hip-hop production, the book manages to illuminate skills that are multidimensional and transferable to other styles of music.
“Charles’s acknowledgment of Sylvia Robinson’s major contribution to the genesis of hip-hop music offers a major nod to women in production everywhere.”
—Ebonie Smith, Producer, Engineer, Educator, Founder and President of Gender Amplified