If you’re an aspiring beat maker or hip hop artist, one of the things you’ll need is a great ear for potential samples. Developing this talent is critical to coming up with your own distinctive style. Many hip hop producers are known for the styles of music which they mine to find unique samples. A lot of doing this will simply involve listening to a lot of different kinds of music and experimenting with sampling. There are, however, a few styles of music that seem to work well with hip hop music. Today we’re going to explore some of the best styles of music you should dig into for samples.
Soul and R&B Music
Soul and R&B music, unsurprisingly, is at the top of the list when it comes to digging for samples. The grooves and solid sound engineering of these songs translate very well to the hip hop template and they can be mixed and matched in endless ways. Early Kanye West productions (think about his work on Jay-Z’s The Blueprint or his own debut The College Dropout) are instantly identifiable due to the way Yeezy sped up old soul samples to create a distinctive feel.
Jazz is another highly popular style of music to dig for samples. Most hip hop producers usually don’t bother searching through the older big band stuff, so try to focus your listening on jazz from the 1950s through the 1980s. A Tribe Called Quest used jazz music for sampling purposes extensively throughout their career and is a defining part of their sound.
Funk music was popular in the early 1990s with the rise of gangsta rap. Dr. Dre used old Parliament and Funkadelic songs to create an almost slinky feel to the songs he worked with. You can hear the effects in his own The Chronic along with 2Pac’s seminal All Eyez on Me and other albums released on Death Row Records.
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