Hip hop is one of the most important musical genres on the planet, and its influence on genres such as trap, drill, phonk and jungle is hard to overstate. A big part of hip hop’s appeal is its infectious, funky beats, that take the essence of funk, soul and jazz music and reinterpret them in exciting new forms.
Hip hop beats can be sampled, programmed on drum machines, created with turntablism, played by a live band, or combine multiple approaches. In this guide to the top ten hip hop beats and how to make a hip hop beat, we’ll show you what makes some of the biggest beats in the world tick, and give you advice on how you can recreate this magic for yourself.
Jump to these sections:
- What are hip hop beats?
- What is the most famous hip hop beat of all time?
- Discover the 10 best hip hop beats of all time
- Mobb Deep – Shook Ones, Pt II
- Supreme DJ Nyborn – Versatile Extension
- Eric B. & Rakim – I Know You Got Soul
- Q-Tip – Breathe and Stop
- Special Ed – I Got It Made
- MC Shan – The Bridge
- Schoolly D – P.S.K. What Does It Mean?
- Clipse – Grindin’
- Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force – Planet Rock
- Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg – Still D.R.E.
To make these beats we’ll use Native Instruments Rudiments, a drum instrument designed especially for making contemporary music genres that you can use in the audio editing software of your choice with Kontakt 7 or the free Kontakt 7 Player.
What are hip hop beats?
Hip hop beats are the rhythmic foundation of a hip hop track, and can be made in a variety of ways including sampling “breakbeats” (drum solos) from records, programming drum machines, playing them live with a drummer, or even creating them with turntablism. Many classic hip hop tracks combine multiple approaches.
What is the most famous hip hop beat of all time?
There are many hip hop beats that have been hugely influential. Ultimately, the “most famous” hip-hop beat is open to interpretation and may vary depending on individual perspectives and cultural contexts. As well as the ones mentioned in this list, particularly influential hip hop beats include The Notorious B.I.G. – ”Juicy,” Wu-Tang Clan – “C.R.E.A.M.” and N.W.A. – “Straight Outta Compton.”
Discover the 10 best hip hop beats of all time
Some of the best hip hop beats feature intricate drum patterns, innovative sampling techniques, infectious grooves, and a captivating blend of musical elements. Let’s explore some of these along with how to recreate these beats yourself.
1. Mobb Deep – “Shook Ones, Pt II”
We can create our own version of this beat with Rudiments’ ReignMan Kit. Turning the Saturation up to 32% will give the beat a beefier feel that helps it sound closer to the original version.
Set your DAW to 94 BPM. Programming wise this beat needs a C1 kick on the first beat, an E1 snare on the second beat, A#1 open hats on the second and fourth 8th note, and finally a heavily swung C#1 kick on the last 16th note before the third beat.
To swing a note like this, you can turn off your DAW’s snap to grid function and move the note to the right so that it’s nearly halfway through the 16th division. This 16th note swing gives the beat its characteristic boom bap groove.
Note that we’ll use velocity values of 100 for everything in this guide unless otherwise specified.
Now duplicate this half-bar out for the second half-bar.
2. Supreme DJ Nyborn – “Versatile Extension”
A much-sampled beat in a wide array of music styles, ”Versatile Extension” is a snappy-sounding groove that we can recreate with Rudiments’ Hunda Kit.
Turn the Saturation knob up to 50% for this one.
Set your project tempo to 101 BPM. Place C1 kick on the first and sixth 8th notes, with D1 snares on the second and fourth beats.
For the hats, position a G#1 closed hat with a velocity of 78 on the first beat of the bar, with a swung A#1 closed hat just after the second 16th note, also with a velocity of 78. Duplicate this hi-hat pattern out for the rest of the bar.
To make our version of this beat we’ll use Rudiments’ Kai Kit.
Set your project tempo to 103 BPM, and program C1 kicks on the first, sixth and eighth 8th notes. Add E1 snares on the second and fourth beats of the bar.
Now add a G#1 closed hat with a velocity of 84 on the first 16th, with a G1 closed hat with a velocity of 84 just after the second 16th. Duplicate this out for the rest of the bar.
Now place A#1 closed hats with velocities of 88 over the first four G1 closed hats.
Let’s use Rudiments’ Burrough Kit to recreate this beat, with its Saturation level set to 30%.
Set the project tempo to 99 BPM, and sequence C1 kicks on the first, eighth and ninth 16th notes, swinging the kick on the eighth 16th note to around a quarter of the way through the 16th.
Add D#1 and B1 snares on the fifth, twelfth and fifteenth 16th notes. Again, swing the snares on the twelfth 16th note.
Now let’s make a hi-hat shuffle. Sequence F#1 closed hats with a velocity of 78 on the first two 8th notes, with swung G#1 closed hats with a velocity of 74 on the second and fourth 16th notes.
Duplicate this hi-hat groove out for the whole bar, but delete the closed-hat on the fourth beat. This creates the beat’s stop-start rhythm.
5. Special Ed – “I Got It Made”
A straightforward beat with plenty of rhythm of room for its big bass booms, “I Got It Made” is an exercise in unfussy efficiency.
The Jakeson Kit has big, booming kick drums and snappy snares, making it ideal for this beat.
Set your project to 96 BPM, and begin by placing C#1 kicks on the first and sixth 8th notes. Then add D1 snares on the second and fourth beats.
Now add F#1 closed hats with a velocity of 87 on 8th notes, with a swung G#1 closed hat also with a velocity of 87 on the twelfth 8th note.
To make this beat we’ll use Rudiments’ HenFrew Kit with its Saturation level set to 45%.
Set your DAW to 96PM, and place C#1 kick drums on the first, eighth, ninth, eleventh and fifteenth 16th notes. Then add E1 snares on the second and fourth beats.
Now add A1 closed hats on the third, seventh, eighth, ninth and eleventh 16th notes. Finally, add a G1 closed hat on the final eighth note.
7. Schoolly D – “P.S.K. What Does It Mean?”
Arguably the first ever gangsta rap track, Schoolly D’s “P.S.K. What Does It Mean?” has a unique, heavily reverb beat with booming kicks and snares and a robotic hi-hat part.
We’ll use Rudiments’ Insale Kit for this beat, with a 42% Reverb setting and a 48% Saturation setting.
Set your project tempo to 99 BPM, then place C#1 kicks on the first and sixth 8th notes, with a C1 kick on the fourteenth 16th note. Add D1 snares on the second and fourth beat.
Now add a D#2 crash cymbal on the first beat of the bar, with 16th note F#1 closed hats on the second and third beat.
8. Clipse – “Grindin'”
One of the production that made The Neptunes household names, “Grindin’” is a spartan, percussive beat that helped hip hop segue from the swung, funk-sampling boom bap rhythms of the ‘90s to the sparser programmed sound of the ‘00s.
We’ll use the Testra Kit for this beat.
With a project tempo of 95 BPM, program a C#1 kick on the first beat of the bar, with additional kicks slightly before the seventh, eighth, tenth and eleventh 16th notes. Place D#1 snares on the second and fourth beats of the bar.
Add D1 snares on the fourteenth and sixteenth 16th notes. Now place a G#1 closed hat with a velocity of 80 on the third beat, with additional closed hats just before the third, fourth, twelfth, fifteenth and sixteenth 16th notes.
9. Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force – “Planet Rock”
The tune that kickstarted the electro scene, “Planet Rock” took inspiration from Euro-futurists Kraftwerk to create a beat that was truly ahead of its time.
We’ll use the Jakeson Kit with a Saturation level of 80% to create our own version of this beat.
Set your DAW to 128 BPM, then place C1 kicks on the first and fourth 8th notes, with D#1 claps on the second and fourth beats of the bar.
Now add G#1 closed hats on every 16th note apart from the second, fifth, sixth and tenth ones.
Now duplicate the bar out, and add extra kicks on the eleventh and fourteenth 16th notes of the second bar.
10. Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg – “Still D.R.E.”
An iconic beat from the legendary producer, “Still D.R.E.” demonstrates that you don’t need an overly complex drum part to create a funky, catchy track.
We’ll use the Shombo Kit with a Saturation level of 30% to create our drum sounds.
With a project BPM of 93, place C#1 kicks on the first and third beat, with a swung kick on the sixth 16th note. Put D#1 and B1 snares on the second and fourth beats.
Put a F#1 closed hat on the first beat, with G1 closed hats on the fourth, fifth and eighth 8th notes. Place A#1 open hats on the second and sixth 8th notes.
Start making hip hop beats today
From studying classics to experimenting with modern production tools, now you know the key steps of recreating your favorite beats and even using them as inspiration for your future productions.
And if you haven’t already, check out Rudiments, the crisp, punchy, and versatile drum kit perfect for any beat.