13 posts categorized "Programming Bass Lines"

March 24, 2011

Beatmakers and Trade Secrets

Shop-Talk Elevates the Beatmaking Art Form and Tradition


Musicians have long shared tricks of their trade amongst each other. It's a tradition as old as popular music itself. However, for some reason, many beatmakers (producers) pride themselves upon keeping a vale of secrecy over their beatmaking methods. What gives?

I could speculate about the cultural undertones of this, but that's not what this piece is about. On the contrary, this article is about why the notion of secrecy (specifically among some well-known beatmakers {*producers*}) in beatmaking is ridiculous. As I told a fellow beatmaker the other day, "there are NO secrets between real musicians!" What I was saying (and he understood immediately) was that dedicated musicians share a common fundamental goal: to develop their skills and elevate their craft. Indeed, this is why we constantly seek out people and resources that we believe will help us reach that goal. In this regard, beatmakers should not view themselves any different. We are musicians, and as such, we stand to benefit a great deal from an exchange of information.

No Two Beatmakers Are One in the Same

Regardless of the method or technique used, no two beatmakers are the same. Given the same tools and the same understanding, each of us will inevitably develop our own approach. And I've found that it is within this approach that you find the most interesting "secrets." But instead of having an attitude that promotes the talking of shop (beat talk, if you will), when pressed for specific ideas, secrets, and the like, some beatmakers clam up, or offer the proverbial: "don't wanna' give the secrets away." Huh? What's that all about.

Listen, at face value, there are NO magic secrets that can instantly transform a beatmaker's skills. Secrets (or better yet, pointers, tips, hints, insights) are only as good as the beatmaker who understands them and can, in turn, incorporate them into what they're already doing. For example, DJ Premier is known for his drums, chops, and his ability to finesse the bass out of the breaks that he chooses to use. However, there is no doubt (and he has said as much), that he would not have been able to develop those skills, had it not been for Large Professor. As Premier told me (rather matter-factly), it was Large Professor—another beatmaking pioneer in his own right—who showed him how to filter bass sounds in samples, and also how to make the Akai S950 really work for him. In turn, Premier introduced Large Professor to a new way of diggin' in the crates and surveying music. And before that, another beatmaking pioneer, Showbiz, schooled Premier on diggin' in the crates and surveying music. Thus, these examples of sharing trade "secrets" demonstrates how, for each of the aforementioned beatmaking pioneers, the common goal was to get better and elevate the art form.

Needless to say, I've always been against the notion of not not sharing knowledge ("secrets"). In fact, those who know me, know very well that I consistently share as much as I can, whenever I'm asked by a fellow beatmaker. Likewise, some of the most well-known beatmakers have shared as much as they could with me. Also, consider this, even if one beatmaker breaks down their entire beatmaking process to another beatmaker, chances are, the latter beatmaker isn't going to utilize everything that he (or she) learns from the former. Not at all. The latter beatmaker is only going take what he needs and/or can use from the other beatmaker's process. It's this sort of exchange that each beatmaker can use to further develop their skills.

Final note, keep this in mind: the entire beatmaking (hip hop/rap production) tradition is only as good as its weakest beatmaker. Hence, there's merit in all of us trying to help each other step up our skills.

The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

March 19, 2011

Using Time-Stretch with Samples

Time Stretching Might Help with Timing, But Not Always Good for the Sound; Tempo Modification an Effective Alternative


I prefer to stay away from time-stretching samples. Although I understand the primary benefits of it—for example, it helps with tempo matching and the like—, I do not like what you often give up in return: sound and texture quality! Once you stretch a sample (or any sound, for that matter), the sound "changes," and along with that sound change is a mood and feel (vibe) change. I think of it like going from natural to synthetic. Thus, for me, if I need to fit something to a tempo, I first manipulate the overall tempo. I owe all of my understanding to tempo adjustments to my DJ background. Therefore, when the timing is "off" in a beat, I don't think about "correcting" the timing; instead, I think more along the lines of mixing and blending the musical elements with the tempo that's being driven home by the drums.

In the rare occasions where tempo modification alone doesn't work, I modify the velocity and volume of certain sounds within the beat. In fact, sometimes I do both of these steps together. Either way, my aim is to make sure each element of sound meshes together within the rhythm I've established. Moreover, it's important for me to stay away from "corrective" functions as much as possible. In this way, I feel more connected to the DJ'ing tradition of hip hop/rap music, the foundation of beatmaking.

Finally, here, I should mention that I know a number of beatmakers who time-stretch their samples, but it's worth noting that they do it not for "effect," but as a last resort, when something's not matching up—and even then they do it in a fairly limited manner.

The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

March 16, 2011

Nipsey Hustle's "Hustle in the House," a Reusable Good

Recycled Sample Drives New Beat


I remember when I first heard of Nipsey Hustle. His song, "Hustle in the House" immediately made me think that he sounded like a cross between 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube... And I mean that in a good way, because I think he pulled it off.

The beat for "Hustle in the House" is built around a sample that was first made famous by Detroit rapper MC Breed's 1991 hit, "Ain't No Future in Yo' Frontin'," and then later the rap teen duo, Kris Kross, for their 1992 runaway hit, "Jump." Aside from the overall quality of the song, I've always liked the drumwork for this beat the most. The kick and snare play off each other and the escending riff of the sample, like a doomsday death march of rhythm and force. The snare doesn't such much as land on the "2 and the 4" as much as it crashes. And the kick drum stomps, but without any distraction or unnecessary movement.

The music and videos below are presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Nipsey Hustle - "Hustle in the House"

MC Breed - "Ain't No Future in Yo' Frontin'"

Kris Kross - "Jump" (official music video)

Notice the difference in the way the same sample source material was used and flipped? Specifically, notice the tempo and what type of drum framework each beatmaker went with?

Side Note. Wow, can you believe that two teens from Atlanta ever sounded like this? Jump-dance aside, notice that they do not use any extra exaggerated "country" slang. Of course, this was a time when New York lyricism still had heavy influence over rappers nationwide.

The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

March 14, 2011

BeatTips MusicStudy: O.C. & A.G. - "2 For The Money," Beat by Showbiz

Street Corner Laced Rhymes and A Hard-Hitting, but Intricately Arranged Beat


Attitude. More specifically, the "hip hop attitude." That's one of the core components of any of hip hop culture's four primary elements. And in O.C. and A.G.'s "2 For The Money" (beat by Showbiz), there is no shortage of attitude. Moreover, there's no shortage of the components that comprise a dope song.

O.C., long one of the most surefire (but slept-on) lyricist to ever grab a mic, sets off "2 For The Money" with a bravado that can only be summed up as New York City confidence. O's rhyme flow is as fluid as it is abrasive. And his lyrical content—always engaging—is as clever as it broken-glass serious. Then there's A.G., every bit "street corner" and aggressive as O.C., but less agile and more direct.

Then there's Showbiz on the beat. Here, the fellow D.I.T.C. brethren crafts one razor blade of a track. Showbiz's arrangement on this beat is masterwork! He builds the core groove around bass piano chops. But the real standout work on this heater is how he uses horn and string chops to weave a structure that packs a powerful punch. The first horn sample is a quick 3-note phrase that jabs in and out. And then there's the string samples. Dope! Showbiz uses several string samples. The first one dances up and down in a suspense-like fashion; it's this string sample that's prioritized during the first quarter of the verses in the song. The second string sample is an ascending, bottom-heavy string-horn phrase that carries a sustained whine after its crescendo. It's this string-horn phrase that Showbiz uses to relieve the first string sample, at the midway mark of the verse. After the string-horn phrase gets burn for four bars, the first string sample returns, followed by one more 2-bar round of the string-horn phrase, which finally gives way to the climax: a subdued and sustain brass stab with all other music elements (drumork included) dropped out.

Finally, got a mention that the hook cuts on this song are served up by DJ Premier.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

O.C. & A.G. - "2 For The Money" (from Oasis, beat by Showbiz, featuring cuts by DJ Premier)

The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

February 07, 2011

Escaping The Tempo Trap

Exploring Different Tempo Ranges, And How To Avoid Getting Stuck With The Same BPM For All Of Your Beats


When it comes to making beats, setting the right tempo (BPM) isn't as easy as it might seem. Some beatmakers prefer to "tap out" the tempo of a beat in real time, while others opt to go for pre-set tempos. Both scenarios are fine, but one problem that tends to plague many beatmakers is the inability to expand the tempo range of their beats. I like to refer to this issue as the "tempo trap."

For most of us, the beats that we make fall within the same general range. And this fact is guided by the style of beats that we like as well as the base compositional style that we work from. Each beatmaking compositional style—sample-based, synthetic-sounds-based, or hybrid-based—offers its own set of possibilities and challenges, and therefore, each compositional style, along with the style and sound of beats that you like, plays a big role in the tempo ranges you will ultimately work within.

For instance, with regards to sample-based beats, up-tempo is usually not the norm for most sample-based beatmakers. One reason for this has to do with the "pitch limits" of sampling. Although sample-based beatmakers (myself included) enjoy utilizing the flexibility of being able to pitch a sample up or down, we're mindful of the fact that drastic pitch moves—up or down—away from the original pitch of the sample can encumber the sample's true potential, and thereby torpedo the chance of a dope beat. For example, if you speed the sample up too much, do you then also speed up the overall BPM of your beat's sequence? And if you increase the BPM rate, do you then have to decrease or increase the number of steps (events) in your drumwork? Sometimes, speeding a sample up (specifically, the primary sample) can be properly reconciled (depending on your style and taste) by slowing down the overall BPM of a beat, and by increasing the number of steps (events) in your drumwork. But of course, that all depends on the type and tone of the sample that you're working with.

With the synthetic-sounds-based compositional style (the so-called "keyboard beats" style), there is perhaps more flexibility with tempo ranges. After all, once free of the sometimes inflexibility of samples, synthetic-sounds-based beatmakers can presumably work from a much broader tempo range. Well, in theory that's correct. But in practice, this isn't always the case. Here, the important thing to remember is that contemporary hip hop/rap music is pretty much underscored by a median tempo range, I'd say somewhere between 93 - 99 BPM. Still, there are certainly slower and faster tempos being used in hip hop/rap. But anything much slower is typically used for today's "R&B" ballads. Likewise, anything much faster is typically used for urban pop dance tunes rather than core hip hop/rap styles and sounds. Hence, even most synthetic-sounds-based beats ascribe to similar tempo ranges that are found among sample-based beats.

But even though the three main beatmaking compositional styles defer, generally speaking, to the same tempo ranges, the reality still remains that some beatmakers get stuck in a tempo trap, making beats that are consistently too slow or too fast. So how do you break from this? For me, the key to escaping the pitch trap has always been my insistence on practicing making beats within four distinct tempo ranges (BPM ranges): 83 - 87; 88 - 93; 94 - 98; and 99 - 103 BPM (fine tune +/- 5%).

Typically, most of my beats fall within the 94 - 98 BPM range. However, I still practice (experiment) with much slower and faster tempos, because doing so helps me to better understand the subtle vibe and nuance differences between smaller tempo ranges. For example, on the surface, the difference between let's say 96 and 97 BPM is minimal. But depending on all of the elements of the beat—samples, synthetic sounds, arrangement scheme, drumwork, etc.—the slight incremental BPM difference can either "push," "pull," or "shuffle" the movement (pace) of the entire beat.

As a rhymer, I can not stress enough the importance of feeling the right pace of a beat. If I feel (know) the beat is "pushing," then I know to be quick with my rhyme flow and to truncate more words at certain spots in each measure. If I feel (know) the beat is "pulling," then I know to lag with my rhyme flow. And if I feel (know) the beat is "shuffling," then I know to increase my word count in each bar, which requires me to be very careful with my breath control. In each case, when I'm creating a new beat, knowing the subtle differences that occur between incremental BPM changes helps me to quickly identify what tempo the beat should be at (especially for me to appropriately rhyme to it). Because of this, I never get "trapped" in either a slow or fast BPM zone. Instead, I'm always prepared to set the right tempo for the style and sound of beat that I'm working on.

Finally, I should also point out that even though I rarely use beats that are north of 99 BPM, there are several reasons that I like to still practice making beats at faster tempos. Using my own tempo and loop exercises, in which I use higher tempo ranges (usually 103 - 125 BPM) with the same primary sample over different drumwork sequences, allows me to work on ideas that I have for new drum structures. It also helps me to audition new snare sounds. I should also add that practicing with faster tempos also helps me to better understand the different ways that loops can "work" at faster and slower tempos.

*Editor's Note: The BeatTips Manual includes a detailed discussion of the sample-based, synthetic-sounds-based, and hybrid compositional styles of beatmaking.

The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

January 27, 2011

Ty Fyffe Stresses The Importance Of Getting The Groove Going First

Sometimes Keeping It Simple Is All The Complexity A Beat Needs


I have strong admiration for Ty Fyffe's work. His beats all share a "no nonsense" quality. His drums are steady and always knock hard. And the overall character of his sound selection—usually made up of obscure, untraceable sounds—is sparse, but flanked my intricate nuances. In this video, Ty Fyffe illustrates making a beat through the use of multiple sound-stabs. Fyffe assigns the same sound-stab (I think) to roughly 8 pads on his Akai MPC 2500. For each pad assignment, he has the sound-stab set at a different pitch level, which allows him to play each sound-stab like individual notes.

The video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Episode 1 Music Producer Ty Fyffe Shows You How To Make A Hit

The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

January 21, 2011

The Alchemist Still Finds It Unbelievable

Master Beatmaker Talks Shop About His Path To Music Success


Alchemist Making Beats 3

Alchemist Sample Library | "Tell Em' I'm Here" | Freddie Foxx

January 19, 2011

The Wisemen's 'Children of A Lesser God': Classic Street Rap in Full Effect

With 'Children of A Lesser God,' The Wisemen Deliver Classic Street Rap; But Don’t Call It a Throwback, the Essence of The Wisemen Has Been Here for Years


BeatTips Rating: 5/5

BeatTips Rating Breakdown

To be certain, The Wisemen's album, Children of a Lesser God, is quintessential, unmitigated street rap of the highest quality. I began here because it's necessary to point out. Why? Because at the moment, hip hop/rap music is overly “represented” (I use the term lightly) by three main unfortunate trends: (1) status quo safety efforts, you know, where the top acts do just enough to oil the mainstream machine; (2) lifeless beats and parochial rhymes [where sampling is surface-level at best, and where synth-based creations are either extra emo or just plain too “synthy”]; and (3) publicity-stunt rappers who say or do seemingly anything for attention.

Taken together, these three trends paint a disturbing picture of today’s hip hop/rap music. But this picture is, by any knowledgeable or sensible account, grossly incomplete. Truth is, there’s a lot of good, well-intentioned hip hop/rap music available today. Yet most of it is simply drowned out by waves of mediocrity. Thus in an environment such as this, we need albums like The Wisemen’s Children of A Lesser God to shatter through the Plexiglass.

When you think about it, it’s always been the quintessential street rap album (think Wu-Tang or Nas’s first LP efforts, for instance) that has had the best chance to cut through all the clown noise with something simultaneously threatening, enjoyable, and of course, meaningful. (Maybe that’s one of the reasons this album failed to get proper press coverage when in dropped back in October, 2010; ironically, on the exact same day as The Left’s celebrated Gas Mask. But I digress.)

That being said, street rap albums are a curious thing. They're difficult to pull off, mostly because of the balancing act of authenticity, creativity, and entertainment appeal. And they don’t always hit the mark established by similar albums from hip hop/rap hey-day eras. But The Wisemen’s Children of a Lesser God convincingly strikes the target.

Now, I’d be remiss if I did not mention that the Wisemen artfully use the Wu-Tang architecture as a guide. Here, let’s remember The Wu-Tang Clan: The Wu-Tang Clan were (and still are) in their own league; they were aggressively insular and self-contained; their slang, flows, and metaphors were the codes of their own world—outsiders be damned; they broke from conventional music forms; they rhymed to impress, to challenge, to compete with each other.

Many of these characteristics and qualities come to mind when you listen to The Wisemen’s Children of a Lesser God. And for good reason, as the clear Wu-Tang influence is an actual legitimate connection—The Wisemen front man, Bronze Nazarath is a recognized Wu-affiliate (his link to and work with The RZA has been documented). That being said, however, The Wisemen are not mere emulators of the Wu-Tang style, sound, and mystique; rather, they are the much needed extension of it. An extension, I should add, that is not homage alone, but inspiration, and more importantly, obligation. Indeed, The Wisemen seem to have a deep sense of obligation (duty) to maintain this extension (connection) and to keep alive the influence of one of the most powerful forces in hip hop/rap music history. Fortunately for us, they do a great job in this regard. (I especially liked Children of a Lesser God's inclusion of skits, an element unique to hip hop/rap—not always used or performed effectively—that Wu-Tang perfected.)

But homage and duty to Wu-Tang aside, The Wisemen are keenly devoted to representing themselves and their brand of self-contained community. Indeed, they are not given over to erasing the memory banks of their own background, just for the pursuit of an often romanticized hip hop/rap era (i.e. “the ‘90s”). Instead, The Wisemen understand that while past eras of hip hop/rap music may fade, the essence of these eras remain and never dissolve. As such, the characteristics and nuance of these eras can be studied and used by current music makers for the purpose of creating something that doesn’t simply attempt to mimic, but aims to be just as creative and mutually engaging. Where most of “the ‘90s” revival outfits miss this crucial understanding, The Wisemen absorb and internalize it, rendering a long player (album) that’s just as much reminiscent as it is authentically personal.

In fact, Children of a Lesser God demonstrates how The Wisemen reconcile Detroit’s unique sensibilities with other influential hip hop/rap cities. And I say this to make one thing clear: The Wisemen are NOT hip hop/rap carpetbaggers (like others I’ve noticed), avoiding the sensibility of their home town. On the contrary, The Wisemen are skilled music makers who have connected the rich soul music roots (and nuance) of Detroit to their hip hop/rap influences (some obvious, others not so much). Ultimately, this makes for a style and sound that authentically represents them (their specific interpretations of proven hip hop/rap styles and sounds) and their famed city.

BeatTips Rating Breakdown

Favorite Joints

“Thirsty Fish” ft. Raekwon
(Bronze, Salute, and Raekwon KILL this joint. One of the toughest beats I've ever heard! And Rae is in prime form; you can tell he was diggin' this beat—produced by Kelaar 7)

“Victoriuos Hoods” ft. Victorious, Planet Asia
“Makes Me Want a Shot”
The Illness 2
ft. Illah Days (Verse 1&2), Phillie
“Makes Me Want a Shot”
ft. Salute Da Kidd, Bronze Nazareth, Kevlaar 7

Sureshot Singles

“Thirsty Fish” (10)
“Children of a Lesser God” (10)
“Lucy” (10)
“Makes Me Want a Shot” (10)
“Panic at Vicious Park” (9)
“Victorious Hoods” (10)

Sleeper Cuts

“Faith Doctrine ft. Beace”
“Get U Shot”
“I Gotta Know”
ft. Salute Da Kid, Phillie, Bronze Nazareth, Illah Dayz

Solid Album Cuts
“The Illness 2”
“Do It Again”
“Corn Liquor Thoughts”
“Hurt Lockers”

Gripes and Weak Moments

Final Analysis

The Wisemen’s Children of a Lesser God is enjoyable. Quite a feat when you consider that most street rap albums are long on the “shock and awe” and short on the enjoy factor. I found that I was able to really chill with this album, you know, dig in to it. This album holds no skip through joints. Beats are not repetitive; each song lays down its own claim. And the song order; the lyrical quality (every rapper in the crew is distinguishable and more than capable); and the timelessness of the dope beats all combine to stop you from rush consumption. I’m also compelled to point out that I found Children of a Lesser God as—if not more—enjoyable than many of my favorite hip hop/rap albums (from the ‘90s til now).

On Children of a Lesser God, there’s no deliberate (or perhaps contrived) social commentary that you might expect to find from the likes of a so-called “conscious rapper.” Yet the social commentary comes through clear in an unflinching, “as told to you” manner. Of course there’s stories of crime, weed and liquor use, and sex-capades. But none of the subject matter on Children of a Lesser God is forced or meant as sensationalism. Instead, the material comes off naturally, with much nuance to take in and subtle lessons to be learned. I appreciate when lyrics inform, enlighten, and challenge without the stench of falsity.

The best parts of The Wisemen’s Children of a Lesser God, notably the songs “Thirsty Fish,” “Victoriuos Hoods,” and “Makes Me Want a Shot” exude a sound, polish, and feel that just isn’t equaled right now. This is not to say that there is no one else offering soul samples and hard raps. Of course there are. But many other acts who are using this formula (soul samples and hard raps) are doing little to draft their own unique blueprints from this foundational formula; nor are they doing a fairly good job at representing the pedigree for which they aim to emulate, match, or surpass. Does this mean that The Wisemen match or surpass the Wu-Tang Clan? No. But it does mean this: In their aim and effort to stay true to their pedigree and influences, they were, in turn, able to create something authentically theirs—something that will now stand for others to attempt to emulate, match, or surpass. That's the continuum promise of a dope pedigree.

Thus, my final overall evaluation of Children of a Lesser God? it’s a 5-star classic. Aside from its cache of razor sharp, crew-backed rhymes and hard—and often eloquent—beats, what truly makes an album like The Wisemen’s Children of A Lesser God a classic is not only it’s ability to take you back, but its enduring power to keep you focused here, in the now, while also giving you a glimpse of the promise of hip hop/rap’s tomorrow.


January 16, 2011

BeatTips MusicStudy: MGMT - "Electric Feel"

Beatmaking's Influence in Retro Music Forms; MGMT's "Electric Feel" Demonstrates Elements Beatmakers Regularly Highlight


In my own self-imposed MusicStudy, I regularly come across contemporary music from music traditions outside of hip hop/rap that feature elements that you could easily imagine being heard in a beat. One such case is a song I used to listen to a lot last year, called "Electric Feel," by MGMT.

The first thing that stands about MGMT's "Electric Feel" is the drumwork. The song opens with an 8-bar, in-your-face drum framework that includes a drum pattern wherein the kick doubles up, landing often on the "2" and the "4." The snare, which is a slim shade of a standard rock snare sound, smacks on the "2" but drops out on the "4" (because of this snare pattern, I'm led to believe that at least some of the drumwork was electronically produced). After the intro drumwork, the core groove begins and the drum framework switches up to what could best be described as a tribal drumming phrase, with a steady, "marching-beat" kick pattern. When the "tribal drums" come in, the velocity of the hi-hat seems to dissipate. I'm not sure if there was an intentional velocity change by MGMT, or if this was a sonic feature created in the final mix; whatever the case, it works...I know, because I often drop out my hi-hats at certain parts within my beats. Main reason? I've always found that it creates an interesting sonic composite.

The next thing that grabs me about MGMT's "Electric Feel" is its core groove: A simple 3-note, mid-pitched pattern with a rubbery—not dark or heavy-bottomed—bass line. The guitar and bass strum together in a declarative manner, yet the tone is casual, almost understated. I think this is the reason why there's so much room to experiment with several different drum frameworks throughout the entire song.

Finally, for the changes (different movements), MGMT works in an array of light-handed keyboard fare. One keyboard phrase is a chromatic glowing of synth-pop tones that dance across the top of the core groove; another keyboard phrase sounds like a syncopated ping pong, dripping across tightly wound harp strings. It would appear that MGMT knows that it's the 2-bar core groove that's driving the song, so rather than smother it, they opt for more delicate phrasing for the changes. A decision that no doubt makes the otherwise understated rhythm of "Electric Feel" soar.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

MGMT - "Electric Feel"

The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

January 04, 2011

BeatTips MusicStudy: Marco Polo and Ruste Juxx Deliver Hardcore Rap with "Nobody"

With "Nobody," Marco Polo and Ruste Juxx Prove They are Indeed Somebody Worth Paying Close Attention To


The way some people tell it, classic creative, "meat and bones" hip hop/rap is dead. Or that the "punch-you-in-the-gut" beat style is no longer in existence. Wrong. On both counts. Here with a joint that has seemingly come out of nowhere, Marco Polo and Ruste Juxx are demonstrating hip hop/rap's most hard-hitting formula: tuff beats and street-rumble rhymes.

Anchored around a pulsating, piano-led riff and a milky, heavyweight bass line, the groove that beatmaster Marco Polo cooks up is soulfully energetic and thoroughly hypnotic. For the drums, Marco goes with a ratchet-like, syncopated snare that jukes and jabs, while the bottom-fed kick raps through the track like a battering ram knocking on a medieval castle entrance. And for good measure, Marco peppers the entire drum framework with 1/8 hi-hat hits that shuffle and swing in its own rhythm.

As for Ruste Juxx on the rhyme, Brooklyn-bred flow is front and center. Each line of every rhyme is delivered with the confidence of a pound-for-pound best rated boxer. Juxx doesn't just drop lines; instead, he spits them out with the arrogance and bravado of someone who brandishes razors under his tongue. And while the harshness of his classic New York rasp is ever apparent, the dexterity and overall polish of his rhyme skills is hard to ignore.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Marco Polo and Ruste Juxx - "Nobody"

The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

Dedicated to exploring the art of beatmaking in all of its glory.

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