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date: 02 June 2020


  • Oliver Wang


A colloquial term synonymous with Hip hop production, referring to the creation of musical and rhythmic tracks or “beats” in hip-hop music. Whereas in other musical genres the figure of “the producer” often refers more to an overseer and coordinator of the larger recording process, in hip hop the producer/beat-maker is generally presumed to create, compose, and/or arrange the music for a recording. Throughout its history, beat-making has inherently reflected adaptations to technological innovations—including the Drum machine, the Sampler or Sequencer, and the Digital Audio Workstation—that empowered individuals or small groups of collaborators to create musical tracks without the assistance of studio bands or related personnel.

Although the term “beat-making” was not used until the large-scale adoption of drum machines and samplers, hip-hop production pre-dates the era of digital reproduction. The earliest rap producers in the late 1970s and early 1980s were holdovers from the R&B industry, directing studio musicians during taping sessions. The most famous example is that of Sugar Hill Records’ Sylvia Robinson instructing members of the Positive Force band to replay portions, including the prominent bass line, of Chic’s “Good Times” as the rhythmic bed for what would become the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” the first hit rap record from ...

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