Adding Heat to Drum Rhythms
It’s true, Most hip hop hits have extremely simple drum rhythms. Although they may be simple, don’t be fooled. There’s more to it than meets “the ear”.
What do we mean?
While listening to various hits on the charts, you might at one time or another asked yourself “Why does this beat move so well even though the rhythm is so basic? When I try sequencing the same drum pattern, it simply does NOT have the same professional feel as the hit! What could I possibly be doing differently?”
Differences between the Pro & Amateur Producer are many –
One fact that sticks out more than the rest is how quickly amateurs stop short when sequencing a drum pattern by only applying basic quantization. Pro’s always take it a step further by applying what is called “the groove”. By “groove”, we aren’t simply discussing a rhythmic swing. While applying a rhythmic swing to a sequence is definitely an essential part of creating a groove, there’s more to groove than swing.
Beyond swing is something called “humanizing” – “Humanizing” involves altering a straight quantized rhythm so it more closely resembles a live drummer’s performance. The end result is a transformation from a generic quantized pattern into a realistic, natural groove with a live feel and depth.
Offsetting the rhythm, starting with the snare –
The most overlooked element in hip hop rhythm today is the timing of the snare. Instead of having snares land directly over quantized pulses, select all the snares & slide them over a fraction after the tempo’s quantized pulse. This little trick will greatly enhance the humanized feel of any beat as the snare acts as a guide throughout the song. If your beat utilizes both snares & claps, experiment with different results by sliding the claps as a group, separate from the snares & vice versa.
Offsetting ghost kicks while keeping main kicks on pulse –
Also, while keeping your main kicks quantized over the pulse of each bar’s downbeat, still experiment with sliding the smaller ghost kicks so that they deliberately land offset from the tempo’s quantized pulses. You’ll be surprised as you hear that once simple rhythm now changing into a humanized groove with feeling!