Posted Feb. 27, 2019, 10:06 a.m.
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Gunna is an Atlanta-based rapper who’s been featured alongside Young Thug, Travis Scott, and Gucci Mane. The young star has released four albums on Young Thug’s YSL label: Drip Season 1, 2, and 3; and 2018’s Drip Harder, which featured the platinum-certified #4 hit “Drip Too Hard” (are you sensing a theme here?). Gunna’s sound is rooted in trap, but has a melodic focus and a uniquely atmospheric quality thanks to skilled producers like Metro Boomin, Turbo, Nav, and Wheezy. In this tutorial, we’ll explore how to make a Gunna-type beat in Reason that drips with subtle style.
Look Behind the Beats
What really sets Gunna’s music apart is what’s going on behind the beats. Most of his songs are built around a dreamy melodic or chordal element—such as a clean guitar sample, a silky electric piano, or a subtly warped synth sound. Instead of starting your beat with the rhythm, try finding a melody or loop that inspires you first, and let that inform the rest of the process. You can even go straight to the source by picking out a Gunna-inspired sample from ProducerGrind’s Drip Season 2 Melody Loop Pack, or use the included MIDI versions to play any of the melodies with your synth or sampler of choice instead.
Make It Slap
Once you’ve found the perfect centerpiece for your beat, make it slap with some classic trap percussion and a booming 808 bass. Load up a kit in Kong, ReDrum, or UMPF Club Drums with snappy hi-hats, a punchy kick sound, and some classic hip-hop snare and clap samples, then use Drum Sequencer to build a pattern quickly. Start with 16th-notes on the hi-hat, then click and drag on certain notes to add repeats and triplets for an iconic trap rhythm. Then throw ProducerGrind’s free Official DJ Spinz 808 sample into the Grain or NN-XT samplers and create a simple bass line in the key of your melody for instant trap flavor.
Add the Melodies
With the foundation of your beat laid, it’s time to start adding some chords and counter-melodies to flesh it out. Reason’s ID8 device is perfect for quickly sketching out parts with go-to piano, organ, string, brass, and flute sounds, which you can then tweak with effects or swap out for your favorite synth or sampler. Don’t indulge too much though—keep it lean with just one or two additional parts. To make your track really “drip”, add some reverb and delay with RV7000 and The Echo, or use an effects sequencer like Sugar Bytes’ Effectrix to warp your sounds in creative ways.
Plan Your Structure
When you’ve built up a solid loop with some interesting layers, the next step is to lay out a structure for your track. First, duplicate the whole pattern for the length of the song, then selectively remove layers to create a build-up and differentiate the verse and hook sections. Start with just the melody for the first few bars—this will be the intro, where the artist and featured guests will add some ad-libs to hype up the song. After the intro, drop the beat in and slowly add your layers until the hook or chorus. Experiment with cutting the percussion track in a few spots to highlight the vocals. When laying down the vocals, the Neptune Pitch Adjuster can be used as a real-time vocal synth for a modern, auto-tuned sound.
Reason 10’s creative workflow and inspiring production tools help you build original beats quickly, and resources like ProducerGrind and the Propellerhead shop are chock full of modern trap sounds to make your beat drip like a Gunna track.