*** ill o.g. ***
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I'm assuming you dig for your samples. Scratch that - I'm assuming you sample. Well if you do, then that means you spend lots of time looking for the perfect drum break for your next beat. There are tons of breaks out there, and many of them have been snatched up over the years either by famous Hip Hop producers, or by bedroom beatmakers. But that doesn't mean that there's no more breaks left, you just have to look.
1. Find The Afro
Trust me, it works. When you're going digging, always try to find some sort of record that has a picture on the back of the band. Then within that band, look for a dude that is rocking an afro, because you know the music on that record is going to be funky. If you find one, it's even better if the afro dude is the drummer. If you can get that, you sir, have a hidden gem.
It's no secret that bands from yesteryear, especially from the 1970's, had tons of dope music, and most of them were baked out of their minds, which in turn resulted in loads of amazing music dropping all at the same time. This is why there's tons of records out there that have great breaks on them, and just great music overall.
2. Use A Popular Break
I know, I know - it's not good to use the same popular breaks all of the time. I completely understand that thinking, and it's a valid point. However, if you're stuck trying to find a dope break to use in your beat, then you could easily use a break that's already been used. The key is HOW you end up using the break.
For example, I've heard lots of the same break (*cough* Funky Drummer *cough*) being used by nearly every Hip Hop producer (and other genres) on the planet. I know that those breaks are simply amazing, and they fit so well with Hip Hop music, but if you're going to use a break that's been used and abused, then at least treat it right by flipping it completely different!
There's no need to use a break as is, or the same way someone else flipped it. Use your imagination and take that break above and beyond, giving the listener something they didn't expect to hear at all - especially with that break.
3. Don't Just Look For Breaks
I'm guilty of looking for actual drum breakdowns within a record. We've all done it, and it's fine to do so but you must remember that there's plenty of other parts of a record, so why not explore them? I've had many times where I was looking for drums on a record, and I was trying to find any open spots that I could use, but I would come up empty. A lot of times I would give up and move on to the next song, but that's a big mistake.
Sure, there are some records that just plain suck, but there are some that contain that one break that you can really use. Instead of looking for open spots, or actually looking at the record to find the dark spots (which indicates a probable breakdown), just play the entire record. It can be time-consuming, but it can also be worth it in the long run.
When in doubt, just listen to the record. It doesn't always have to be about the afro, the breakdown, or open drum hits. Instead, keep your ears open and find that hidden gem that will hopefully give you the perfect drum break.
Further Reading Related to Drum Breaks