How to make beats for rappers?

image of a rapper recording a song

If you are eager to learn how to make beats for rappers, it might be because you’re motivated to make your own beats for your rap, for your friends or because you want to sell them. When producing beats for rappers, it seems obvious to say that it is necessary to make instrumentals that are appealing for them.

Nowadays, rappers have a large choice of beats to listen to and to use for their rap, so it is very important that the composition and the structure of your beat respect a certain level of coherence before rappers even choose your beat and sing their lyrics. Indeed, the beat from intro to outro needs to be well structured, clear, catchy in the ear and dynamic. Some sounds elements are classic for a rap beat and we introduce you to them and explain their characteristics.

Whether you have beat making skills or not, this post recalls key points to have in mind before making a beat for rappers. Besides, in the third and last section of this post, we illustrate the theoretical approach with an example of a beat that we made on La Scratcheuse’s easy online music maker. We will show you how we created a basic hip hop beat. Click here to listen to the beat in the background and continue reading.

What sounds elements should I use for rap instrumentals?

The basic sounds patterns to produce beats for rappers

As a recall, a sound pattern is a soundtrack that lasts a specific number of bars and that is aimed to be repeated during the song. A bar of music constitutes a unit of time that contains a specific number of beats played at a particular tempo.

Picture of how music patterns are assembled to learn how to make beats as a beginner

Below we listed the basic sound elements you need for your patterns before structuring your beat. They are kind of mandatory for any rap beat:

  • Kick patterns
  • Snare and/or claps patterns
  • Hi-hat patterns
  • Percussion patterns
  • Chords patterns
  • Melody patterns
  • Bass patterns
  • FX patterns

Obviously, you can add more sound elements especially one shot sounds to alternate and bring movement into your beat. One shot sounds last a certain number of beats or bars and are different from patterns as they are not supposed to loop.

What is a kick element in a hip hop beat?

A kick drum is the foundation of your beat. It sets the feel and the tempo of the beat. Roughly, it is the “Boom Boom” we hear! In a traditional drum kit, the “kick” or the “bass drum” is struck by a pedal with the drummer’s foot. In beatmaking, kicks are produced with effects and can both last longer and have a totally different sound color than in traditional ones.

What is a snare element or Clap in a hip hop beat?

Snare drums produce a brief and sharp sound.This drum’s emblematic description is a cracking sound. A clap is as it indicates: the sound from a hand clap. Usually, claps and snares are used the same way in a beat but both sounds bring different atmospheres. The clap brings a happy feeling whereas the snare brings more of a banger feeling.

What is a hi-hat element in a hip hop beat?

Hi-Hats are drum sounds that are commonly hit every beat but not always. You can recognize a hi-hat pattern by the “ticking” and “pshhhhing” sounds thereof. Besides, hi-hats patterns are good ways to create movement in your beat.

What is a melody element in a hip hop beat?

Melodies are the best weapon to catch rappers when they listen to your beat. Rappers should be able to remember the melody and sing them. Melodies are linear lines of single notes. It’s a combination of pitches and rhythm. 

Alternating melodies in your beat is also cool as it lets you apply constant changes in your beat. Using more than one melody at the same time is what we call “polyphonies”. You can use different polyphonies to make your beat even more thick. In any case, make sure that your melodies are coherent to be put together because keep in mind that melodies are the most memorable aspects of a song and you want them to be catchy in your beat 🙂

What is a chord progression element in a hip hop beat?

A chord “progression” or a “harmony” in beatmaking is a harmonic succession of notes played simultaneously. In your song, the chord progression will constitute the texture thereof. As chord progressions can be minor or major and occupy a broad sound space, they directly impact the feel and mood of your beat.

What is a bass element in a hip hop beat?

Bass lines are notes played in tones of deep frequency, pitch and range. Different categories of instruments allow the creation of bass lines. The bass line is a key element of your beat to link harmony and rhythm together. It connects the drums, melodies and chords together. Hence, the bass is a reference for the singer as it accompanies the rapper quietly in the back.

What is a FX element in beat making?

FX sounds are sounds, progressions, or even recordings on which effects such as reverbs, delays and phasers have been used to process them. FX sounds can be of many kinds such as but not limited to Crowd sound effects, War Sound effects, Funny sound effects or even Star Trek Sound effects and so on. Thanks to these completely transformed sounds, beatmakers can spice their beats and make their song more unique and original.

How to structure your beats for rappers?

Why are beats structures so important?

That’s awesome, you’ve just found loops or made your own music patterns. Now, it is the moment when you must assemble your sounds elements together in order to compose different parts in your beat. The structure needs to be coherent because rappers would usually prepare at least a chorus and 2 verses as well as additional lyrics sections. Structuring your beat is a crucial phase as it will highly influence rappers to select your beat for their songs.

Different parts to build in order to make beats for a rapper

There are multiple options, maybe infinite. After all, for some particular songs, there are rappers that throw only a long verse during the whole beat. Below, we put classic examples of structures that we often listen to in our songs nowadays:

  • First option: Intro – Chorus – Verse – Chorus – Verse – Chorus – Outro
  • Second option: Intro – Verse – Chorus – Verse – Chorus – Outro
  • Third option: Intro – Chorus – Verse – Chorus – Bridge – Verse – Chorus – Outro
  • Fourth option: Intro –  Verse – Pre-Chorus – Chorus – Bridge – Verse – Pre-Chorus – Chorus – Outro

Give a size to the sections of your beats

Usually the length of an intro makes 4 to 8 bars and a verse makes 16 bars minimum. As for the chorus, it makes 8 bars and the outro makes 4 to 8  bars. Obviously, these sizes are arbitrary. It will depend on your expectations. Nevertheless, make sure that your parts lengths are well balanced. 

Example of a beat structure’s:

  • Intro (8 bars)
  • Verse 1 (16 bars)
  • Pre-chorus (4 bars)
  • Chorus (8 bars)
  • Bridge (4 bars)
  • Verse 2 (16 bars)
  • Bridge (4 bars)
  • Chorus (8 bars)
  • Outro (8 bars)

TOTAL BARS : 72 bars
Here over the 72 bars, approximately, the verses represents 45% of the beat; the chorus, 22%; the intro and outro together, 22%; and the pre-chorus and bridge together, 11%. 

How to make a good intro for rap beats?

The goal of the intro is to catch the listeners. The latter should be able to identify your song after listening to a couple of seconds of your intro. In many cases, intro’s play no drum beats. Sometimes, it is just one sample only. Nevertheless, you could use a hi-hat drum sounds to tease your listener before the next section: verse or the hook (chorus). 

Besides, depending on the following section, the intro will not be the same:

  • If you plan to put a hook (chorus) part right after the intro, it could be interesting to have a low number of instruments in your intro apart from the bass line and the drums. Put the bass and drums when the hook section starts. This intro will create a contrast and boost your hook.
  • If you plan to have a verse section right after the intro section, then you can simply introduce your beat by adding one by one 2-3 music samples chosen for your verse apart from the drums. When the verse starts, launch your hi-hats, kicks and the bass.

Our advice for your beat intro : launch one melody, one chord (piano, marimba…) and if needed a very light and discrete hi-hat or percussion or FX sounds.

How to make a good verse section for a rap beat?

For their verses, rappers write what we call 16 bars. Basically, in the eye of the rapper, we could say that a verse is made of 16 sentences or 16 punchlines. Their punchlines are supposed to end at the end of bars. Rappers don’t want to be redundant, so they change their flows every 4 bars or at least every 8 bars.

As a consequence, your verse section should at least last 16 bars. Besides, It’s so important that the beat’s verses should have slight changes every 2 to 4 bars. Also, overusing drums in a verse can be boring and an overkill. Alternating bars with different set of drums or no drums at all will give some relief to your verse.

Our advice for the verse of your beat: Bar 1 to 4: Start with one melody, one chord progression, a bass line, a hi hat. 5 to 8: Add a kick and a snare. 9 to 12: Put a new chord progression to reinforce the first one during the second part of the verse. 13 to 16 : Remove the drums to create an aerial transition to pre-chorus or chorus. Ending the verse without drums will create a nice contrast with the next part.

How to make a good chorus/hook for a rap beat?

The hook or chorus is maybe the most important part of a rap song. Listeners should be able to remember the hook and to sing it. The rapper will take a close look at this section. A good chorus is surrounding, beefed up and thick. 

Our advice for the verse of your beat : It’s time you put your various harmonies samples together so that the sounds are surrounding. Besides, add a bunch of percussions including (kicks, hi hats, snares and other kinds) that will enhance your chorus sections. Finally, to lead you chorus, add a strong melody or combine different melodies to create a polyphony.

Make beats for rappers on La Scratcheuse’s easy music maker

What is La Scratcheuse’s online music maker?

Very briefly, La Scratcheuse is an online music maker allowing you to create a beat for rappers very quickly. It’s super easy to do. You play on a vinyl pad. You must click on the different samples on the vinyl to activate and deactivate them. Besides, after launching a sample, the music maker machine will automatically synchronize it with the samples that are already playing. For more information, please click here

We really recommend trying this free online music maker to learn  and apply the tips above on how to make your first complete instrumentals for rappers

Example of a beat for rappers made on La Scratcheuse

On the right, the image presents a short beat brokendown into 6 loops. Each loops include 8 bars. The beat below is structured with an intro, a verse, a pre-chorus and a chorus and then an outro. More details below :

Intro : One melody
Verse 1/2 : melody A + chords A + hi hat + percussion A
Verse 2/2 : melody A + chords A + hi hat + percussion A + Bass A + Kick + Snare A
Pre-Chorus : melody B+ chords B+ percussion A+ Bass B
Chorus : melody B + chords A + Chords B + percussion B + Bass A + Kick + Snare A + Snare B + hi hat + FX
Outro : Chords A + Bass B + percussion A

Listen to the beat

record a beat loop by loop on the timeline of La Scratcheuse's music maker
Pictures of a beat made on La Scratcheuse's online music maker

Long story short

In theory, you must gather a certain number of music elements to build your beat such as the melodies, the drums and the chords. Besides, it’s gonna be very important that you structure your beat in different parts. Eventually, you will try to alternate melodies, chords and drums in your different sections to always make your beat dynamic. It’s very essential to understand that rappers need to have a real feeling with your beat before they elect it to rap and produce on it. Last but not least, to make beats for rappers, you obviously must have a software and if you are a beginner, La Scratcheuse’s Music Maker seems to be the best choice to start making beats for rappers and learn as well.

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