The Beat Mercenary
*** ill o.g. ***
The Hip Hop beats that we all hear today are nowhere near as influential as the beats of yesteryear, and for one good reason - the music industry's greed. I could go on about the industry and how producers and musicians are not able to express themselves freely as they once did.
For Hip Hop producers, this is especially true because the main thing that makes up a Hip Hop track is sampling. Now we have legal teams and laws that are constantly cracking down on music that is created with samples that are not legally "cleared".
On one hand I completely understand. If someone were to sample one of my songs without seeking permission or even paying me, I would not be happy. On the other hand, where do you draw the line? I wrote an article a few years ago about how it seems that certain samples are off limits and others not, why?
For example, I have tons of drum kits and drum breaks in my collection that I regularly use when I'm making beats. A lot of them are from the same tracks but have been tweaked to sound a bit different, and some are just straight up samples. But here's the issue - how come I can sample the snare from Audio Two's "Top Billin'" (which everyone knows) and yet there are no repercussions? However, if I were to sample a line from the vocals, I could possibly have lawyers knocking on my door.
This is why it's important to hide your music samples, and you can even do so in plain sight. Here's how.
Hide Your Music Samples
I know of a lot of producers and beatmakers that sample a song and chop up the sample then replay it to fit their beat. That's great but you don't need to recreate the original composition. Instead, why not just use a few notes from the sample? Obviously this doesn't work with all samples because some are easily recognizable and others not so much. If you have a piano loop that you want to use, that's even easier because all you have to do is break up the piano into individual notes and use them as needed.
You can use the samples in their original form or mess with them just a bit like pitching them up or down, applying a bit of EQ, or running them through some sort of effects filter. But for whichever method you choose, the best way is to just use a few of the notes and blend them in with the rest of your beat.
Just yesterday I made a beat that was made up of:
Drums: This is straightforward; I just created a loop.
Bass: Same as drums.
Rhodes: This is a bit different. What I had was a Rhodes loop but I only took one tiny part of it and pitched it down, then I played a melody with it. It might be recognizable, but there's no way anyone can tell the original source. Even then, it's a Rhodes and it's only a small note. I could argue that I got it from a real Rhodes keyboard.
Piano: I love how this one turned out. It's a loop but I chopped it into four parts and I simply played each part very softly in the background to blend in with the rest of the beat. They're not individual piano notes but almost. Again, I could argue that I played the melody from a real piano.
The main thing to take away from this, is that when sampling, it's best to cut up your samples into individual notes. Too many producers will take the sample as is and just loop it. Those beats sound great of course, but they're too easy to recognize, and that's what you're trying to avoid.
I would like to know what you do when you sample and how you try to hide samples. What is your best technique? Leave your comments below.