90s hip hop tips

Triplets, Triplets, Triplets

A triplet is when beat is split into three notes, instead of the typical two or four, as shown here:

Don't Overuse Quantization

  • Keep the kick, snare, and hi hats strictly quantized and on the grid at all times.
  • To humanize you can play around with the velocity of the hi hats and repeated kicks. For example, if you have two kicks close to each other, the first one can be a little softer than the second one.
  • If you have any percussion or foley elements, you can try to move them around slightly off the grid to create a swing. By not being in the front of the mix like the kick, snare, and hats, the listener won’t be caught off guard if these are not strictly quantized.
  • Play your melodies/chords on your MIDI controller for a more realistic feel, or manually adjust the velocity of each note after you draw them into your DAW.

Hi-hats Are Key

In modern hip hop, it’s commonplace to find a 16th note pattern for the hi hats, while the open hats are placed in the offbeat. The groove is achieved by the switch-ups from the basic pattern to 32nd or 8th note sections. Triplets are also very effective in hip hop, but we will cover this separately in another section.