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Reason and hip hop have a long history together. In fact, DIY and indie hip hop producers were some of Reason’s earliest adopters, thanks to its intuitive interface, fast and creative workflow, and wealth of sound libraries built right into the platform. In this tutorial, we’ll explore the basics of hip hop beatmaking and show you how to make a hip hop beat in Reason 10.
From crisp modern trap beats to low-fi instrumentals, it pays to take a look at some of the sounds and techniques that have historically defined the genre. All genres are identifiable by their signature rhythms: EDM’s steady, pulsing kicks, the trademark swing of jazz, and funk’s heavy syncopation. With hip hop, the groove itself provides the foundation for everything—the kick and snare hold down a solid pocket, while the hi-hats, claps, and other percussion make the groove bounce and sway with swung subdivisions and expressive accents. There are multiple techniques you can use to create the groove, but we’ll start with sampling.
Ever since producers started lifting drum loops from records, samples have dominated the genre and can make a great foundation for a groove or chorus hook. Reason 10 is packed with powerful sampling tools—choose a sample from the included sound libraries or record your own, then chop, screw, and warp them with Dr. Octo Rex and the Grain Sample Manipulator. To learn more, check out our recent blog post “How To Chop Samples in Reason 10.”
Drum machines are another staple of hip hop production, especially the booming kick and snappy analog sounds of the Roland TR-808. Bass is an equally crucial element—whether it’s a funky synth, a sampled Motown groove, or even a pitch-shifted 808 kick, a good bassline is what really makes a track bump. Reason 10 is packed with powerful bass synths and easy-to-use drum machines modeled after some of the most legendary hardware units in history, giving you a wealth of creative options at your fingertips.
Although most of the raw power in hip hop comes from the rhythm section, a memorable melody can add the right hook to elevate any track. After all, who could forget the laid-back synth leads on “Gin and Juice?” Where would A Tribe Called Quest be without those tasty sax samples? And what better way to add some R&B flavor than with a silky electric piano? Even if you're not a pro on the keyboard, Reason makes it easy with the Scales & Chords Player.
Reason puts all the tools and sounds you need to make a great beat right at your fingertips. Check out this video above to learn!
Now that you've had a primer on how to make a hip hop beat in Reason 10, it’s time to and let your creativity flow!