Posted Feb. 15, 2018, 10:44 a.m.
The world of hip-hop music production is full of genres and sub-genres, each with its own unique history and style. Take Boom Bap hip-hop for example. The central elements are a hard-hitting sampled kick drum (boom) and snare drum (bap), typically with the snare on two and four and the MC rapping on the beat.
Boom Bap developed out of the 1980s New York City breakbeat scene, and hit peak popularity in the 1990s, when artists like Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Jay-Z, Nas and A Tribe Called Quest made Boom Bap one of the defining sounds of hip hop. Hip hop production has evolved a great deal since then, with the snare sound frequently replaced with a hand clap or other sample. Still, Boom Bap remains a popular, albeit retro technique that’s sometimes incorporated into other types of hip hop.
One such variation is Jazzy Hip Hop, which is related to the electronica subgenre Chill Hop. It features a mellow, jazzy groove made up of Boom Bap drums and short chordal samples taken from jazz records that typically provide much of the harmonic content.
Reason 10 provides the perfect toolset for creating Boom Bap and Jazzy Hip Hop beats, among many other styles. With myriad instruments and sample players, a massive effects collection, and powerful recording, editing and mixing features, all you need to add is your creativity.
In this video, producer, musician and educator Stefan Guy (stefanguyaudio.com) takes you step-by-step through the creation and production of a Boom Bap/Jazzy Hip Hop beat using Reason 10. He deploys Reason instruments such as Kong Drum Designer, NN-XT Advanced Sampler, and the brand-new Humana Vocal Ensemble—along with effects like Audiomatic Retro Transformer (which he uses for vinyl emulation)—showing you lots of cool production tricks along the way.
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Posted Jan. 26, 2018, 10:08 a.m.
One Week Notice is the title of a 1-week collaborative concept album featuring 9 Hip-Hop Artists and Producers - Dizzy Wright, Jarren Benton, Demrick, Audio Push, Emilio Rojas, Reezy, Kato and DJ Hoppa. It was recorded fully in Austin, TX at the BeatStars studio and over 20 songs were created during the 7-day process, with 13 making it onto the album.
Kato On The Track is a Music Producer/Entrepreneur out of Atlanta, GA., best known for his production with Artists like: B.o.B, Hopsin, Jarren Benton, Dizzy Wright, Wu-Tang, Joyner Lucas, Token, Tory Lanez, K Camp, Futuristic, Sy Ari and more. Kato is also the founder of a Producer mentorship program, Beat Club, which educates and provides resources and networking to aspiring music Producers around the world.
We caught Kato to have a talk about the One Week Notice project and his workflow in Reason.
Tell us how the One Week Notice came about. Whose idea was it to complete an album in one week?
One Week Notice was the brain child of Dame Ritter, former CEO of Funk Volume, whom I was signed to up until 2016. We've been friends since, and he basically just called me one day and asked if I'd be interested in flying to Austin for a week, staying in a house full of rappers, and making music all day. What could be better?
Could you share some insights on how to collaborate successfully with so many people involved and with that kind of tight deadline?
The key to collaborating with that many people is just to leave any ego at the door and be open to working with other creatives. After that, the rest is easy.
When you load up a brand new Reason song, what’s the very first thing you do?
The first thing I do when I open Reason is load a template. I have different templates for working with vocals, starting a beat, etc. After I load my template, then I'll start searching for the perfect sound to start my melody, or sometimes I'll start with drums first. I usually have an idea going into the project of what I want to make, it's just a matter of finding the right sounds.
What drives you musically? Why do you make music?
My motivation for making music is the same as it was on Day 1. It's the only thing that allows me to create something from nothing without any rules or boundaries - what else allows you to do that?? It's absolute 100% freedom to do whatever you want and that idea to me is so amazing in a world full of rules.
What do you do when inspiration just isn't there? Any tips on tackling writer’s block?
I hate forcing creativity. When I don't feel inspired by what I'm doing, it takes the fun out of it and doing what you love should always be fun. Most of the time when I lack inspiration, I either step away from the music altogether and do something entirely different, or I'll find inspiration in collaborating with others. I've also been using Splice a lot.
Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?
I've been using the Decimort 2 a LOT recently. It adds so much cool texture whenever I need that extra unique quality. I like anything that takes something clean and makes it dirty.
The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
Kong Drum Designer, NN-XT and the McDSP C670 Compressor are CRUCIAL to me in every session I start. I can probably make an amazing beat using only those 3 devices and nothing else!
Watch how Kato made "Get It N Go" in Reason:
Check out the official video for "Get It N Go" off the One Week Notice album:
Posted Nov. 14, 2017, 10:20 a.m.
From the hip hop’s immortal 808 kick to the sound of the mighty Linndrum, drum machines have provided the pulse and energy in electronic music for more than 40 years and we keep getting hypnotized by the robotic grooves they provide.
The history of the drum machine actually goes back all the way to the 1930s, when Leo Theremin (yes, that Theremin) built a sine wave based rhythm instrument called the Rhythmicon. The size of a refrigerator and notoriously hard to use, it wasn’t a hit and it would take another 30 years before rhythm machines actually started to come out as products. Early examples such as the Wurlitzer Side Man used vacuum tubes for sound generation and mechanical rotating discs for sequencing and they didn’t make a huge impact on music when they came out. Gradually, drum machines shrunk in both size and price with the adoption of solid state electronics and products such as the Donca-Matic range from Keio-Giken (that would later become Korg) in the late 60s.
Drum machines were initially thought of as accompaniment tools that practice your playing to when a drummer wasn’t available and indeed they didn’t really see much use in recordings from the era. In the early 70s drum machines started to appear in pop productions with Sly & the Family Stone scoring the first #1 featuring a drum machine: Family Affair.
As electronic pop music started to evolve, drum machines became part of the sound and not a novelty. With more advanced products such as the Roland CR78, artist could program their own rhythm patterns and the electronic rhythms could be heard on more and more pop records.
In 1980, the Linn LM-1 came out. It was a pricey unit at almost $5000, but it offered sampled drum sounds and helped define the sound of the 80s as we know it today. Ironically, the most iconic machines of the era: the Roland TR-808 and TR-909 didn’t make a huge impact when they first appeared. They were analog drum machines (apart from the hi-hats and cymbals in the 909) and didn’t sound as modern as their sampled counterparts that came out around the same time. The 808 & 909 route to legendary status went via pawn shops and classified ads where a new generation of hip hop beatmakers and budding house producers could get their hands on these machines for peanut money.
Looking to add the sound of iconic drum machines to your beats? Reason’s Redrum was designed to mimic the 80s legends both in sound and workflow. And the mighty Kong Drum Designer lets you craft your own synthetic drum sounds. The Propellerhead shop is a gold mine for these sought-after sounds. Rack Extensions to emulate classic drum machines, drum loop libraries constructed with the legends from years gone by - take a look at which of these top drum machines will work for you.
Don’t have Reason? Start with a free 30 day trial and see what Reason can do for your music-making.
Posted Sept. 12, 2017, 10:26 a.m.
Want to learn more about beat making in Reason? Let’s take a look at three distinct routes you can take in Reason to reach beat making Nirvana.
Get started with beatmaking in Reason!
Posted July 7, 2017, 8:38 a.m.
ZETA is a collaboration between Paul Ortiz (Chimp Spanner), Daniel Tompkins (TesseracT) and Katie Jackson. The UK artists seek to push their own creative boundaries by exploring epic soundscapes that intertwine with stunning visuals.
This unique project fuses the retro synth heavy decade of the 80s with futuristic and breathtaking imagery, bringing past and future together in a Cyberpunk-esque package. With a huge span of influences ranging from metal, future garage, retrowave, prog, classical and various game and film soundtracks, their music embraces the sounds of electronica, but with textures and layers inspired by the whole musical spectrum.
We had a chat with Paul about creating music for ZETA and how Reason plays a big role in the creative process.
Tell us a bit about how ZETA came about and what your intention was when launching the project!
I guess it kinda formed by accident! So I'd known our singer Dan for a while through the Progressive Metal scene - I was busy with my project Chimp Spanner and he sings for TesseracT. We'd always planned on working together but just never got around to it. It wasn't until I shared a song of my partner Katie's that he approached me, thinking it was a song of mine. After I explained the mixup we decided that it'd be awesome to all work together and, here we are! Originally we'd intended to make a futuristic/chill kind of album, and then for a while it was all-out Synthwave, and then it naturally settled somewhere in the middle. I think it works because we all have a shared love of influences old and new, ranging from Tears for Fears, George Michael and Vangelis to Ghost in the Shell, Future Garage, sci-fi games and all of that.
Being an (almost all) electronic album, what was your approach on producing the album, as opposed to any guitar centered albums you've done previously?
Well the workflow was very different for me. I'm used to just writing on my own, instrumentally. With Zeta what'd usually happen is Katie would give me a MIDI file and a demo mixdown from Cubase. I'd listen a couple of times for reference and then dump the MIDI in Reason and basically start from scratch, then embellish with guitars or add new sections, chord changes, etc. So I guess it was more like re-mixing than anything. Then we'd send it off to Dan to do his thing, get the stems back and edit them in Reason, then figure out what needed to stay or go in the mix to make them fit. So yeah; for someone who's used to doing everything all at once it was a very different experience to bounce the songs around between three people. But it seems to have worked well. Of course some songs I wrote directly in Reason from start to finish but in either case the focus was on drums and bass. I found that once I nailed the rhythm section everything else fell into place, which really isn't too dissimilar to how I approach guitar music.
I've accumulated so many REs over the years that I had a device for just about every job, and where I didn't, I just made one myself in the Combinator.
How did Reason help you creatively when writing music for the album?
It's just fun! We tried Cubase at first; Silent Waves is actually the only track not made in Reason, and it would've been if I had been able to find the project. But I just wasn't happy with the sounds I was getting. Everything was kind of "cold", and I found the environment kinda taxing to work in, especially when it comes to automation. So we made the decision early on to switch. With Reason it felt like I was playing with a bunch of cool toys rather than working. I've accumulated so many REs over the years that I had a device for just about every job, and where I didn't, I just made one myself in the Combinator. But yeah more than anything it's just that fun factor. And then of course on a technical level the clip based automation is just such a time-saver. You can go really crazy with it and not have to worry about setting things back to the right position afterwards. In Cubase I'd normally just leave stuff as it is because I can't be dealing with my parameters being left at the wrong value after MIDI or host automation.
OK, synth nerd alert: what was the most used synth on the album?
Tough one! I'd say Antidote, just because it's so versatile. It's great for those dark unison Future Garage style basslines, as well as pads and leads. But beyond that, I used a lot of The Legend and Viking (wanted that authentic Moog kinda feel). And I'm pretty sure Quadelectra's Jackboxes are on every track (707, 808, Linn Drum). The Kings of Kong ReFill is also fantastic if you want even more retro drum machines. That features a lot also.
Any special, secret Reason production trick used in the process?
Well there's a tonne of side-chaining haha. Kinda comes with the synthwave/future territory. Typically what I'd do is take all my melodic elements (except for lead instruments and vocals) and put them in a group channel called "SC". Then I'd either key the compressor using audio from the kick, or more often than not I'd just use Pump RE and trigger it via MIDI. Having certain instruments outside of the side-chain group keeps the mix from sounding too ducked and keeps those elements more in focus. Also Audiomatic's Tape and Bottom presets got a lot of use on the album. I have no idea what they do, but they make the mixes sound kinda warm and fuzzy, and I like that. Scream's Tape setting is also great for warming up basses and kick drums. Distortion isn't necessarily a destructive tool. It can be really musical.
Scream's Tape setting is also great for warming up basses and kick drums. Distortion isn't necessarily a destructive tool. It can be really musical.
Any tips and tricks for mixing vocals in Reason?
Hmm, considering this was my first time mixing vocals, I think it might be me who needs a few tips and tricks! But I mean, it was a learning
experience. I'd say automate. Lots. I'm kind of a set-and-forget guy normally, but for vocals it just doesn't work. You have to really ride the faders and "play" the mix. Also try using ducking on your reverbs. So you could send a lead vocal to a nice long reverb with a compressor after it. Then use the Spider to take a copy of that dry vocal and send it to the sidechain input of the compressor. Kinda like lazy-man's automation. When there's singing there's less reverb. When there's no singing, there's more reverb. Works pretty well most of the time.
Could you share any synth patches used on the album?
Well a lot of the patches are really not that complicated; most of the basses and pads are really sort of "naked", in that they're not dressed up with a lot of effects or complex routing. It's mostly sawtooth oscillators (either dual detuned or something with a rich/wide unison section like Korg MonoPoly or Antidote) and then a suitable amp/filter envelope depending on whether it's a bass or a pad or whatever. I've included a few patches here, although they're not much to look at!
Download Zeta's Reason presets here!
(Please note that some of the patches requires Rack Extensions)
A few people have asked about the snare on The Distance. And I can tell you it's a layered 707 snare, 707 low tom, and the BBGunSnare_BSQ sample from the Reason FSB, all running into a gated reverb! Ohhh and guitars are almost entirely presets from Kuassa's excellent amp REs!
Follow ZETA on YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Bandcamp.
LIsten to ZETA's new album here:
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