Create Hip Hop Bass Lines
If you are anything like me, you love to hear great hip hop bass lines in beats. I’ll be honest. I’m a fiend for them and I can’t get enough. You can just go ahead and call me a bass junkie. I must admit that what really completes a very sick beat for me is the low end tones that accompany the drums. So many genres of music include this element but it’s just something about the hip hop bass lines that get me. Let’s quickly discuss a little history here. Before hip hop, there was funk and before that you had the beginning stages of the Motown Sound. To go back even further, one could even bring up the extraordinary jazz days of bebop.
You may ask why i’m bringing this up. The answer is because these styles along with others all have compositions with bass lines. Besides, many hip hop bass lines are sampled from these genres and more. I will get further in detail about that at another time.
There are so many hip hop producers that come up with the dopest hip hop bass lines, but one stands out to me in my personal opinion. That guy is none other than Pete Rock. If you take the time to check out part of his endless catalog of work you will hear exactly what i’m talking about. As a matter of fact, take a moment and listen to an instrumental version of a track he did back in the day with Raekwon and Masta Killa called the PJ’s(very sick!) His filtered bass sound has influenced me so much to the point that I look at him as the standard to hip hop bass lines.
One way to create a bass line if making a sample based beat is to layer the lowest note you hear in the sample with your own bass sound. Make sure the bass note matches the sample (vid explaining this). Then play that bass note along with the kick drum or the sample. Back around April of 2012, I decided to make a video on how to create a bass line on MPC. Because of the positive responses that I was getting, it eventually turned into a mini series. Basically, I use what are known as scales. You may have heard of these especially if you ever took music lessons. Anyway these are formulas that can be used to create melodies. I decided to use them for hip hop bass lines. If you happen to have a drum machine with 16 pads such as the Maschine, MV8000, or most MPCS you can use the 16 level function to accomplish this bass line technique. The pads or notes once distributed through your drum machine can be played in any order. How do you know what notes to play? Use the notes in the scale that you pick. I mainly use minor scales because they just sound more hip hop to me. Here is the youtube video series if you’re interested. The great news about this is even if you don’t have a drum machine you can use a keyboard with the same idea. I illustrate that in this vid below so give it a try and thanks for taking the time to read this!