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HOW did they produce/mix hiphop in the 80's and 90s? NO guides online what so ever...
Old 2 weeks ago
Lives for gear
Originally Posted by Michael T View Post
Additive EQ is your friend along with room reverb. LPF is overdone with can give a deep kick a lot of times mud also makes the kick lose attack and adds mud which makes it sound horrible in a mix.
You can avoid this with a filterenvelope just like the SP1200 handle this on output 1&2. Filter is open at the Attack but then closes till the cutoff is at ca 400Hz after ca 0.5 sec

Old 2 weeks ago
Originally Posted by Timesaver800W View Post
And also use vca compressors.
you're kidding right?
Old 2 weeks ago
Gear Addict
Michael T's Avatar
Originally Posted by peterpiper0815 View Post
You can avoid this with a filterenvelope just like the SP1200 handle this on output 1&2. Filter is open at the Attack but then closes till the cutoff is at ca 400Hz after ca 0.5 sec
I'm not following what you're say. What if the user doesn't have a sp1200? What would he use?
Old 2 weeks ago
Lives for gear
Originally Posted by Michael T View Post
I'm not following what you're say. What if the user doesn't have a sp1200? What would he use?
Any device that provide a filter with envelope:
Nearly any sampler.
or a synth with external input that run thru the filter.
or Filter VST
or Sampler VST

I mentioned the SP cause the outputs 1&2 (which provide this kind of filterenvelope) are MADE for Kickdrums. Don't forget this piece was created as a drumcomputer with sampling option.

Old 2 weeks ago
Lives for gear
hitsville's Avatar

OP, I've asked myself the same question for years. I think most of the tips you've mentioned reading online are actually valid to an extent.

90s = samples recorded from vinyl -> hardware samplers -> console -> multitrack tape -> console-> 2 track tape. Mixed by an engineer in a studio with hardware. It's always going different that a mp3 sample in FL studio mixed by the beatmaker him/herself in a bedroom.

The 808/909 tip works pretty well too if you layer those sounds subtly. It doesn't have to actually make your sample sound like a 808 or a 909.

For drums it often comes down to the choice of samples, layering, and how they're eq-ed before sampling. Everybody might have been using the same studios in the 90s but everybody didn't have drums that knocked that Tribe, Dilla, or Pete Rock. If you listen to unreleased Dilla beat tapes, the drums still knock, even straight from the MPC to digital. I don't think there's anything secret about this though, just sample choice, layering, EQ.

also, pay attention to posts from @ thethrillfactor , because afaik he was actually there in the studio working on some of these projects.

also Bob Power, Russell Elevado, Carlos Bess have all shared precious info in gearslutz before.
Old 2 weeks ago
Lives for gear
hitsville's Avatar

Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
80's and 90's what though? Your asking something pretty general but want a specific answer. Give an example.

I can tell you engineering rap/hip-hop sessions from that era that alot of the end result for major label productions was done in the studio and some really talented engineers contributed alot to the end result. Its not like today where one guy does everything at home or if you do a hip-hop session in a studio the intern ends up tracking your vocals to a 2 track.

You had professional engineers with a ton of experience working on the records. So it was more a collaborative effort between the artist, producer and engineers.

Alot of the times the producer would bring in a beat idone on an MPC or SP1200 and you would process the sounds as you tracked it 2 inch tape and this process could take hours(sometimes days) to get the right sound.
Thrill, it's so good to see you still hang around here! I've learned so much from your posts back in 2005 ish when I first started mixing.
Old 2 weeks ago
Gear Nut

This might be of high interest to you: "Mobb deep break down “shook ones, pt. ii” on new podcast":
Old 2 weeks ago
Gear Maniac

lotta good info here, i think ppl nailed it on the head with the sampler/vinyl/mixing board thing.

sure lots of big names produced in bigger studios with 2 in tape, but really if you just listen to what comes out of samplers from the 80s & 90s and compare it too daw's its so night and day. I only use daws and my dj homie has a crusty sp1200 we mess around with after gigs and its crazy the difference. I can instantly hear the magic.

Even with the later mpcs(2000s sucked sound but xls & 2500 & 1000s i liked), if you sample thru vinyl and even a decent dj mixer, it just has thickness that is hard to get with a daw.

Recently i got a tr-8(im doing more techno-electro/house production) to add to my DAW, the drums are far superior with zero processing than with samples or vsti's(of course the trick with daw would be resampling and efx).

Might be worth getting a sp 404 or used mpc(2000/2500xl/1000) because even recording that into a daw will sound better

if you go back to some of the older premier productions(jeru's first album comes to mind) and sample those kicks and snares adding efx, then resampling them(usually super easy in daws). I never understood wy people just dont find the drums from og hip hop regardless of them being a mp3 or not(unless its a terrible rip or recording) and working from there.

from what I read you stated that you didnt get how the funk drums from the OG samples would sound right, but you have to realize that most of the time the producer, even at sample level may have use the dj mixers eq before sampling.

thing about sampling is you can do it however you want and as much as you want with DAWs. YOu could find a kick in 10 mins or 10 days of manipulation. take your time. dont get frustrated, just put save it and come back to it.
Old 1 week ago
Lives for gear

I just love these kinda threads.So much info.I listen back to some of my old tunes and wonder how it worked lol.That crunch of different signals bleeding into each other in the analog domain.....Stories of Lee Scratch Perry burying his master tapes on top of a sacred hill on full moon for a year before digging them up and burning his magical dubplates !!!!!
Old 1 week ago
I started engineering around the beginning of 83, The studio I worked at had an account with a rap label called Tuff City Records. For a year or so I did all of the records they released around then working with Pumpkin. I worked a lot with a producer named Pumpkin King of the Beats. First off there weren't all the samples we now have available. Pumpkin had some different chips for the Linn that had other samples, maybe some 808 stuff. There weren't a lot of options, the new sampler was an Akai S600 it stored samples on little memory carts. I remember I had a Boss de-200 delay that you could sample one thing and trigger it with your drum machine.

Here's the thing, first everything was done through a console, very few people had separate mic pre's, the console was really the tonal center for any studio.There was no ITB, there were no computers, everything got tracked on 2" tape. And got mixed onto analog tape. Secondly there were more actual musicians who knew music, making these recordings, this was pre sampling and looping. Sampling started to be the end of that, especially with loops of music tracks or drum beats. Pumpkin was a real musician, played keys, bass, drums, there was even a recording I did back then that were Pumpkin paying live drums and this one rapper Funkmaster Wizard Wiz rapping LIVE!

Nowadays everyone does it ITB, there are a lot of people who don't know at all what they're doing, but they have a computer and Fruity Loops or whatever and they think the can make records or they buy or steal a track from Youtube . I get tracks to mix where every track is a stereo file even though it's totally in mono because the genius who made it can't figure out what the track really is.
Old 1 week ago
Lives for gear

You absolutely can layer in what's not there.

Lou. Much respect on the early projects. Whenever I hear the name Pumpkin, I start singing "the all stars need no music".

Those were the breakdance days. I remember a few years later sampling the bass at the end of All the ugly people be quiet into a Roland sampler that only had enough memory for one kick.

I started with turntables, a TR626 and a 909. Then we scooped up an 808, Roland W30 and MPC60Ii when they came out.

Hip hop was my whole life back then.

I spent my last dollar on records to sample many times.

We used to spend days just sampling and layering/ building drum sounds.

Last edited by IM WHO YOU THINK; 1 week ago at 09:54 PM..
Old 1 week ago
Gear Maniac

Originally Posted by IM WHO YOU THINK View Post

We used to spend days just sampling and layering/ building drum sounds.
this is what i think the younger crowd isnt getting. its like buy sample pack, and its done. and realistically i guess a lot of the packs are pretty well engineered but just listening to old producers you can tell the time they took to craft drums sounds wasnt a 1 and done situation.
Old 1 week ago
Gear Head

There are also sounds done by "happy accident" that happens with hardware, not easy to do with software...
I mean with some machines, you can't really predict how it will sound before recording, tuning etc
Old 6 days ago
Gear Maniac

You are hearing a bunch of things (some subtle others not so):

1. Hardware samplers (sound). Either 16 bit or lower. Even 16 bit samplers back then had color in many cases as most converters weren't over sampled, which meant they used analog filters to band limit signal. On one end you could have a thick warm sound (mpc 3000), on another end a crunchier edgier sound (mpc 2000), or anywhere in between. An audio interface today will have none of this color. The key though is utilizing small doses of saturation to get some color back.

2. Minimal step sequencing. Most people played in their drums. Yes you had 808 machines, which was popular in the early 80s Electro and Miami bass but probably the majority of 808 sounds where sampled (at least once you got in the 90s). And the 808 sequencers where much more crude than like FL studio which can program the most complex ****.

3. A bit of live instrumentation. Alot of producers probably wouldn't admit to playing live but it was everywhere, live bass guitar, guitar, drums, keyboards, DJ Scratching, singers who actually could sing. Yes alot of stuff was sequenced too but alot of the best producers knew how to blend live and sequenced elements.

4. Hardware samplers (techniques). A producer had a tougher job back then looping samples. Many classic samplers had minimal editing functions. Most classic samples where chopped by ear. This could introduce errors which often helped add character.

5. Cruder mixing technology. Songs where often mixed on consoles with no automation, with only several compressors (if that), a few reverb units. Yes people on major deals had access to SSLs and world class studios but alot of underground albums where crudely done. And even the SSL boards are probably limited in terms of what DAWS can do now. This created different sounding mixes. You had Analog reel to reel which was warm and phat. You had Adats or digital reel to reel which were comparatively clean but the consoles that where used added some color to those mixes. No autotune, but you could punch in. Editing stuff was much more difficult and possibly rarely done. The way to copy and paste hooks was to sample the hook and "play" it in (a pretty dope skill to have).
Old 6 days ago
Other tips:

1. Older samplers had crappy timestretch, or none at all.

A lot of the vibe of these tracks comes from “making it fit”, and pitching samples to beat-match with turntable speed instead of some algorithm.

2. Sometimes less compression works better, and parallel compression is key to a lot of the drums hitting hard without sucking out the low end.

3. Layer and learn to use amp envelopes to blend 2 snares. Resampling a snare with a slower attack, truncating it, and then blending with a transient sound.

4. Use high/low pass filters. - when I mix, it’s as simple as that. Clients walk in and hear a great improvement in detail and separation, and all I did was make more room for the different elements.

5. I know a lot of these 90s albums had “studio magic” you describe. When I worked with some of these folks in the 90s and early 00s, we did all sorts of fun experiments to get certain vibes.

Here’s one I saw often, that most folks don’t know about. Just make sure you commit your panning and levels before making trying it out.

a. take a double of your drum loop.
B. Gate it to make it choppy.
C. Throw it through reverb and capture it 100% wet.
D. Smash the living hell out of it with a compressor. Show no mercy.
E. Edit the loop either using pro tools or an envelope follower. You may also process this layer through sidechain compression against the sub/synth/bass track.
F. Layer that with the original mixed drum loop. A little goes a long way. It’s an effect I saw a bunch during the 80s and 90s that I don’t see being used as often now.

6. Resample your beats, re-chop, and re-sequence.

Back innna day, we did this a bunch... sometimes out of necessity. All those passes through the converters of the would do something magical. Then we would resample/chop the finished product and freak it even further.

7. As for the old gear having a sound to it... there is a much bigger audible difference in sound modules and sounds than the converters themselves. If you play keys, try to find some older Korg and Roland keyboards. The presets are dated, in a good way. The wavestation, M1, JV modules... they all have a film to them, like a dirty bathroom tile.

Hope that at least gives you something to try out.
Old 6 days ago
Lives for gear
boombapdame's Avatar

Who @ DomiBabi did you work with?
Old 4 days ago
Originally Posted by boombapdame View Post
Who @ DomiBabi did you work with?

Check our artist pages for the “bigger artists.” Whatever that means. Also, I grew up around Puba and his little brother. Also worked on projects with with Jeff Redd, nine, dave Deberry, geddy, sadat, Delphonics, and hundreds of independents at other studios. Also did Spanish hip hop for Gypsy in DR, dancehall for ninja man in Jamaica, and even some doo wop with the Belmonts.

The studio currently owns a special DDA DMR12 console used on many of the classic 90s hip hop albums. Still works after all these years.
Old 22 hours ago
Originally Posted by Mesmerized View Post

A song I don't think is that great, but that I think has a great kick and bass i am looking to emulate or at least come in the same ball park of, is this song:

Really??? You want to recreate the sound of that legendary song (or the Isley Bros' original for that matter)... but think it's not that great anyway?

Old 5 hours ago
Gear Addict

mpc's were in heavy use during that time.
it was common to bring an mpc into an ssl studio and mix/track there.
a lot of pre-production work would be done in small project studios.
samples were less monitored/monitized by the labels, so people used samples from vinyl records more (with or without permission).
sp12, sp1200 also got a lot of use. some people are magicians with those things.
Old 2 hours ago
Gear Head
TikkoRome's Avatar
I'm not reading that whole thing but I read enough that I think i understand what you're asking so I'll just give you a step by step.

1) You need a sampler:
Most hiphop albums were made on one of these 2...
-Ensoniq ASR-X Pro (Rza - "36 Chambers: Enter the Wu")
2)Turntable and mixer:
The go to have always been a Technic 1200 and a Vestax mixer
3) A crate full of breakbeats:
Try ordering Super Duck Breaks and every James Brown record ever made to get you started
You'll need: Impeach the President, Take Me to the Mardi Gras, Funky Drummer, When the Levee Breaks, Walk this Way, Big Beat, Ashley's Roachclip, Apache, Amen Brother, Aint We Funkin Now, Blind Alley, Bongo Rock, Boogie Rock, Bouncy Lady, Bring it Here, Brother Green, Black Grass, Corydon, Cookies, Chicken Yellow, Cramps Your Style, Do the Funky Penguin, Everyday People, Funky President, I Know You Got Soul, Jack & Diane, Kool is Back, Misdemeanor, Mary Mary, Pot Belly, Pussyfooter, Substitution, T Plays it Cool, Tramp, UFO, Whiskey and Wine.... and so many more classic songs with great breaks in them.

4) Connect your direct drive Turntable to your mixer and your mixer out to your sampler.
All the mixing you'll need is provided on the mixer. For more low, turn the low/bass up. For more/less high or mid, turn the appropriate knob.
5) You can either sample a loop right out of the break or, if you prefer, sample each drum (kick, snare, hi-hat, etc) individually and sequence them how you prefer on your sampler.
6) Once you've mastered the art of classic sampling on drums, you'll have no problem sampling horns/guitar/etc off of other records and making a full classic hiphop beat.

7) You might wanna add "boom" to your beats.
There is only 1 pure hiphop way to do so. I doubt you can afford an original 808 (if you can even find one) but Propellerhead's Rebirth is the best virtual 808 I've ever seen. It has a digital reproduction of an actual 808 synth-drum machine for your kicks, a 909 for your snare, and a 303 for basslines.
The easy work around is to just get soundfiles of a couple good 808s that you like.
You can either use them as your kick (as they were intended) or layer them behind a sampled kick to add "boom" while still having a kick present for fans with systems that lack bass during playback.

8) For basslines, there's only 1 name you need to know.
If you sampled your drums off a good break beat, chopped up some samples from old soul/jazz/Christmas records and resequenced them into a dope beat, added some 808 kicks behind your break kick and still need a nice baseline; Novation Bass Station will give you what you need.

PS: Dont forgot to buy some good cartridges for your turntables.

If you still have a big chunk of money to spend after you get your MPC, Vestax, and Technics; go watch Rza's episode of Mtv Cribs and pay attention to his studio. He's got some old analog gear that will further add some "dirt" to your samples
Old 2 hours ago
Gear Head
TikkoRome's Avatar
PS: If you try to avoid paying for gear and just do it all via software and MP3s, you will not achieve the sound you're looking for. That analog gear and vinyl are what gives 80/90s hiphop its "sound".
Old 2 hours ago
Gear Head
TikkoRome's Avatar
PS: If you try to avoid paying for gear and just do it all via software and MP3s, you will not achieve the sound you're looking for. That analog gear and vinyl are what gives 80/90s hiphop its "sound".
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