*** ill o.g. ***
Yes, you suck at making beats. Okay, maybe not, but too often I've heard beats that were either good or sub par and could use a lot of work. I'm not saying I'm a Hip-Hop-making genius, far from it, but let's face it - most beat makers don't like to receive feedback unless it's positive.
Negative feedback is what you need though, for it will give you the motivation you need to make your music much better. It will also open your eyes and make you realize that maybe your beats aren't that good, so you start to question your abilities. If that's the case, continue reading.
#1. You're Doing The Same Thing
Often times you will hear most producers doing the same thing over and over in all of the beats that they make. Why? Because it's their formula, it works, so they stick to it. There's nothing wrong with that if it works, but if you find yourself making a beat to the point where it feels like a routine, that's when there's a problem.
Drum patterns are a perfect example. It's too simple to be able to lay down a pattern such as: kick-snare, kick-kick-snare, then repeat. It's a great way to start your pattern, but if you find that you're using the same patterns and routines, stop. There's more to music than a 4/4 signature or the use of 4 notes on a keyboard. There's a reason why keyboards come in 49 and 61 key sizes.
#2. You're Trying Different Styles
Now, doesn't this contradict what I just said? No. If you're trying different styles, you would think that it would actually help your beat making, but it most likely won't. I'm not saying you shouldn't try different styles, but what I'm saying is this:
Let's say you make 90's Boom Bap style of beats and that's what you're known for. If all of a sudden you switch it up and make something for the clubs, I can't see that working - unless you're really good at it. It's possible that by trying a different style you'll actually realize that you've been doing the wrong style all along, but you could also fall flat on your face.
If you're comfortable with your current style, I say stick to it. You can try a different style, but don't do it for the sake of making money or because it's what everyone else wants to hear. Do it because you love it.
#3. You Use Too Much Stuff
You have way too much stuff in your beat. Do you want to know the difference between today's music and that of yesteryear? Too much stuff. Take a listen back to some old Rap music such as Run DMC, NWA, and even early Outkast. Notice how the music is pretty simple and straightforward? Compare that to today. The productions today are getting better, however, producers are throwing too many instruments and sounds into the mix, and cranking it up.
I can go on for an entirely different article on this topic, but the fact remains that most of the music today has too much going on. You could do that if you want, and this will reiterate what I said just before, and that is, do it if it fits your style of beat making and the end result is good.
For example, let's say you find a nice little keyboard pattern that you came up with and you throw some drums on top, then your bass line. Are you finished? You could be. Or maybe not. It all depends on what the beat is, of course, but there's always that fine line of having too much or too little in your beat. Do you need that extra piano panned to the side? Do you need to add strings? Scratching? Percussion?
#4.You're Not Taking A Break
This one is straightforward. Often times I've seen countless members post in the forums asking for help because they're in a beat-making slump. Usually the answer is that they need to actually take a break. Myself, I make beats when the inspiration hits me. I know lots of guys out there that make beats daily and it's to the point where they're pretty much forcing themselves to make music.
Take a break and take a step back is the best advice. It's great if you want to make beats daily because it's fun, it's something you just like doing, or you're bored. All of those reasons are fine, but it doesn't mean you should be making beats.
For example, the same thing applies to working out at the gym. Some people like to hit the gym daily, sometimes twice a day because they want to get ripped and/or huge. Going to the gym daily is great for you, but too much and what happens? Your body starts backfiring on you, and you end up sluggish, unmotivated, and you actually don't want to go to the gym. To anyone that works out, they know this is called over training.
The same thing applies to beat making, you could simply be over-beating. Okay, that's not a word, but I just made it a word. You got a problem with that? Over-beating.
#5. You're Not Thinking Outside The Box
This ties into "Doing The Same Thing", and "Trying Different Styles". Producers years ago had a certain style of beats and they stuck to it. DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Dr. Dre, etc, all have their own unique styles and it works for them, so why should they change it up? However, this doesn't mean that they can't think outside the box.
Let's say your style of beats is the Club type. It's Hip Hop, but you're aiming for the Club crowd. You can stick to that style, which often times relies heavily on synth work, 808 drums, and rolling hi hats. But why not try to think outside the box?
For example, do you have to rely on synths? Can you get away with using Piano instead? Will the Club crowd like it? What about the 808 kicks? How would that same beat sound if you used a regular kick instead but just added some heavy bass underneath?
The ideas are endless. It all comes down to you and what type of sound you're trying to achieve with these Club beats. You can stick to your style, but when you make those beats, think first. Don't just do the same patterns and use the same sounds, think first.
Overall, the main point I was trying to make is that making beats doesn't have to be a chore. A lot of us would love to make beats for a living and bring in the dough, but it doesn't always end up that way. If your style of beat-making is working for you, then that's great. If you're struggling a bit and want to know why, then go over these points I made, it may open your eyes and give you some better insight into how other people view beat-making.
Further Reading Related to Beat Making