As a young, aspiring hip-hop producer, I remember saving every paycheck from my after school job to buy the new Akai MPC and the Korg Trinity. The thought of saving over two grand to build my dream studio seem like pure fantasy. Once I attained this dream studio, who was going to teach me how to utilize it all? I wish then I had the options available today! The old days of getting the latest music equipment catalog and salivating over a piece of gear are no more. The new generations of hip-hop producers have a serious advantage today…. SOFTWARE + THE INTERNET!
You can do anything you can imagine with Fl studio or Reason. These apps, in combination with online tutorials, can produce sonic marvels once reserved only for hit-makers with thousands of dollars worth of hardware, and years of study. Use Google.com to your advantage: need a new set of drum samples? Need to learn how to chop samples? “Google” it! There are literally thousands of resources to teach you skills to advance your craft. Youtube.com for instance has a plethora of tutorials to help you step your game up in every aspect. From basic pointers, composition techniques, to advancedmixing and engineering, it’s all online and free.
What about the software? Bite the bullet and get your main program, I recommend FL studio or Reason. I suggest FL studio for the best bang for the buck and functionality. FL studio allows you to integrate 3rd party VST/DX instruments and tools inside it, and it’s the least expensive and most expansive of the two. Reason is a full-featured workstation, yet is limited due to being totally self-contained. To put it simply, what you get in Reason, is all you get with Reason. You can integrate more tools and instruments by different companies in FL studio. Another bonus is that you are not limited to the internal effects in FL studio. You can theoretically integrate a $2000 Waves Diamond plug-in package with lil’ old Frooty loops! Incorporating synth workstations such as Ik Multimedia’s sonic synth, Steinberg’s Hypersonic or Sampletank XL can produce amazing results. The Edison in FL studio is an awesome editor for chopping up your samples. Enough said.
Don’t get me wrong; reason is very powerful, fully loaded with lush instruments and samples. You can make stellar productions with it, no question. The only problem is expandability as far as 3rd party plug-ins. There will be a point where you will want to add more instruments from different sources. If you prefer an all-in one approach however, go for it! There is always the option of playing with combinators and reason’s proprietary expansion format called “refills” to get more variety in Reason. There are tons of refills out there. I have fully mixed and mastered tracks in FL studio for an elite level of hip-hop projects. Fl studio with a host of freeware plug-ins can create a formidable arsenal to rival any top-flight producer, regardless of their equipment list.
Yellow tools’ Independence 2.0 is a great, free plug-in that has over 1 gig of free sounds. Do a Google search for free VST and DX plug-ins; you will be amazed at the high quality of free stuff you’ll find.
Search youtube.com and Google.com’s video section like a demon for tutorials! Don’t go at it alone, letting others (with more experience) give you pointers can save you lots of time and up the ante for you in the skills department. Join producer communities to interact with other producers as well, futureproducer.com is highly recommended. These are some keys to success that I’ve discovered along the way and they will take you to a new level. Visit Joeycutless.com for articles, tutorials, and hip-hop samples. The world (wide web) is yours!
About Joey Cutless
Joey Cutless is a Music Producer, Composer & Engineer that has been a pioneer in online beat sales, TV licensing, and marketing of all things production related for over 15 years.