On a recent episode of Attack of the Beats!, I gave advice to an IllMuzik member about his beat and what needed to be fixed and added or removed. The beat in question was really good but it was missing something, like some sort of lead instrument.
So I recommended he add some electric guitar.
Fade, Are You Nuts? This Is Hip Hop!
True, this is Hip Hop we're talking about and really, how often have you heard the electric guitar in any recent songs? Pretty much never. Gone are the days when Run DMC was spitting over the "Rock Box" beat, or teaming up with Aerosmith to "Walk This Way", and some of you might think that I'm stuck in the old school train of thought.
But that is so far from the truth.
When I review beats, I never look at them as whatever style they are. It could be a Trap beat, Boom Bap beat, or anything in between, but the last thing I want to do is categorize it. I just listen to the beat for what it is and decide what would be the best way to improve it.
Now when I recommended the electric guitar, some of you might of thought that was weird, but it's not. When was the last time YOU tried to add electric guitar to any of your beats? A-ha!
So by recommending that instrument be added in, my goal was to get that beatmaker thinking and to ask himself some questions. It could very well be that it would not sound good with a guitar on top, but maybe it will.
There Are Benefits Of Trying Something Different
Even if the electric guitar doesn't sound good on that particular beat, my point was to get that beatmaker to try something different. If it didn't work then hopefully he would have kept trying other instruments such as the trumpet or flute.
If you look back at Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" from 1992, he tried a bunch of different things and it worked out very well for him. He introduced us to lots of high pitched synths and even the flute (remember "Lil' Ghetto Boy"?).
Whenever I start to make a beat, I usually have my staples:
- Keys (piano, rhodes, etc)
When this happens, I start to experiment, and even though I've never tried to use the accordion, (this is Hip Hop, right?), I'll try any sound as long as it fits my beat and makes it better.
It's Time To Think Outside The Box
There have been many beats that I've reviewed that had a big lead synth that sounded great, along with a dope drum track, but it sometimes seems like there's a piece missing. This is why I don't understand how some beatmakers will always stick to the usual sounds. It could be habit, or it could be they're just lazy, but they're missing the point.
Think outside the box.
Many times I made a beat that sounded really good and it was all by accident. I was experimenting with certain sounds and I just happened to stumble onto something that sounded great, so I used it. But none of that would have happened if I hadn't of been trying something new.
It could be the electric guitar, harmonica, or even a different type of bass. Either way, if I recommend you add electric guitar to your beat, give it a shot. What have you go to lose?
But if all else fails, always add more cowbell. You can never have enough cowbell.
Further Reading About Beatmaking