Rap and hip hop music has been around the industry for nearly 40 years now, it all started with travelling musicians who spoke poems to a playing melody. And it did sound quite like the hip hop music made today. If you hear a rap beat without the vocals, which is called an instrumental, you can hear certain patterns playing over and over again. These are called loops. So, a rap beat consists of different loops, which all are slightly different from each other. In a loop you have the drums, the baseline, the melody and the effects.

Let’s start with the drums. Here we have the kick, the snare or clap and the hi-hat. Compare a house beat with a hip hop beat, and you’ll hear the difference. In dance music, like house and techno, a kick or snare hits on every beat, so the time distance between the drum sounds is always the same. In hip hop, the sounds are slightly off the beat, which makes the beat sound laid back and slower. The hi-hat completes the sound range of the drums. We have the kick on the low frequency, the snare on the middle and the hi-hat on the high one.

The base line shouldn’t be too complicated in hip hop, it just fills the lower frequency, but it should sound good though. In my opinion, the sound-quality is more important than the melody itself, but everyone has his own style. Just be sure it hits on some of the same notes as the main melody.

Ok, now let’s talk about the melody. Here, the sounding and the melody itself are equally important. Many producers start with the melody before the drums. And there’s a good reason: the melody is the part people remember most after they heard the song. Make sure you have a middle frequency melodic sound and a high frequency one. Like with the drums, the base and melody should fill out the whole frequency range. Then your beat will sound complete.

Last but not least, the effects. Many people underestimate the power of good effects. Producers use their own special soundeffects to perfect their beats, and if you hear those, you know exactly who it was. Timbaland, for example uses his background singing and Lil’John shouts „yeah!“. It’s not exactly a sound effect but meets the same purpose.

I hope you now have a good overview of the structure of hip hop beats. It’s easier to explain this on an example when you can hear it. I recommend you viewing tutorials on YouTube and listening to some good hip hop instrumentals to fully understand this. And don’t forget: simplicity is the key. Don’t overdo it and make your beats too complicated.