Making The Beat #1 – The Big Payback

The Big Payback


Join me on the journey of analysing ‘The Big Payback’, which will hopefully help you to get some inspiration and provide you with new skills that you can apply in your own beats right away! Here’s a short overview of the topics of this beat’s article:

  1. Choice of Sounds

  2. Layering Drum Samples

  3. Inspiration Behind the Beat

  4. Free Drum Samples


1. Choice of Sounds

Wait, before we get into learning to choose and create the right sounds:

Always realize and remember this, every time you sit behind your laptop or MPC staring at a blank screen, ready to create a new tune:

  • Choice of Sounds is Everything

Nothing is going determine the quality of your Drums as much as your choice of sounds. But you might be wondering: How do I choose and create the right sounds?

No worries, in this and the upcoming articles I will do my very best to give you the best tips and techniques to choose and layer the right sounds so you can create your own unique sounding, banging beats.

Choosing your sounds starts with inspiration. You can usually create the best sounding drums when you have an idea in your head how they should sound like.

In this case, I knew I wanted heavy and muddy Drums and got the inspiration by two songs:

1. A not-so-well-known song by Usher from his album Looking 4 Myself: I Care For You (Produced by Danja):

2. An Instrumental version of Line ‘Em Up (Produced by Just Blaze):

Now I knew how I wanted my drums to sound like so I searched for the right sounds in my library and loaded them in my MPC. (I provided the sounds I used for free in a download link below so you can try out the following tips yourself.)

Here are some important tips on choosing the right sounds:

Choice of Sounds Tip #1:

When loading snares, claps, hi-hats and percussion sounds, always make sure you have at least two slightly different ones.

Because when a drummer plays the snare drum, no two hits are exactly the same, right? And just the same holds for claps, hi-hats and percussion instruments. So when you create your drum pattern, you will want to make them sound almost the same, but not exactly! This will make your drum sound so much more vivid and natural.
You can do this in a variety of ways:

  • Simply load two different sounds
    Often, drum and percussion instruments are recorded multiple times which leads to multiple almost identical sounds of the same instrument. So if you have the option, just choose 2 or 3 of the best sounding sounds of the same instruments and vary your drum patterns by using them all.
  • Load the same sound twice and slightly adapt one
    If you don’t have numerous different sounds of the same instrument or if you think one of them just sounds way better than the others, you can also load that one sound and then duplicate and adapt it by:

      • Pitching one of them slightly(!) higher or lower
      • Panning one of them slightly different
      • Layering one of them with a different or extra sound (read more about layering in the chapter below)

  • Create ghost-kicks!
    As you can hear in our beat, not every kick has the same intensity. Every time two kicks are played just after each other, the first is softer and less loud. This softer, more gentle kick is called a ghost-kick and replacing every kick that is played just before another kick by a ghost-kick makes your drums WAY more dynamic and grooving. Just try it!


2. Layering Drum Samples

Layering is the best and easiest way to create your OWN drum sounds. I actually always use it for my kicks, claps, and snares. It is such a valuable technique because it enables you to create exactly the sound you want.

For those of you who don’t yet know what layering is: It is merely stacking different drum sounds on top of each other and thereby creating a new, combined sound. Every music production device and software program (Maschine, FL, Reason, the MPC, Logic, Pro Tools, Ableton) has a feature that enables you to do this. Just Google: “How to layer sounds in ‘Your Device’ ” and you will find tons of information on how to layer.

Now, I will go a little deeper into the art of layering by giving you some very valuable (and easy) tips and tricks that you can apply directly to get a smashing result, just so as I did with The Big Payback drums.

  • When you want your claps and snares to sound like the above Dr. Dre song:

Make sure you layer two similar claps with lots of reverb on top of a clap or snare that is` positioned in the center AND pan one almost completely to the left and one almost completely to the right, while you keep the central one exactly in the middle. This way, you will get that wide sound; it will sound as if your Clap or Snare is everywhere around you. (I did exactly this in The Big Payback.)

  • When layering kicks, don’t underestimate the importance of a simple but very punchy kick. No matter how much body you want your kick sound to have, you always need a dull, punchy kick sound to make it cut through your mix and get your drums to really stand out.


Layering Tip #1:

Put two similar claps with a lot of reverb on top of your central Clap and pan one of them almost completely to the left and the other almost completely to the right to get a strong and wide (surround) sound.

3. Inspiration Behind the Beat

You probably all know the blockbuster movie Django Unchained from Quentin Tarentino, right? Well, that’s exactly where we got the inspiration for this beat. Just check the trailer for the movie and see what it does to you:

Do you feel the atmosphere of vengeance, power, victory and aggression? The next song is from the Django Unchained soundtrack and the mix is done by Claudio Cueni, an engineer we worked with occasionally (famous for his work on Dr. Dre, 2Pac, Boyz II Men & many more).

Hearing that song together with watching the trailer got me in a mood of ultimate revenge. This provided the initial inspiration for our song The Big Payback. Really hard-knocking, almost muddy drums combined with raw, sawing guitars, gun sounds and an orchestra to make it really dramatic.

So, the first tip for inspiration is:

Inspiration Tip #1:

Don’t only listen to other beats to get inspiration. Watch movie trailers and listen to soundtracks to get in a certain mood; chances are high you will get very creative!.


4. Free Drum Samples 

Well guys, that’s all I got for now. But before I sign out please make sure to:

I hope you enjoyed this article. I sure enjoyed making it for you and I’ll get back to you in the next one soon! Take care and all the best!




Read More: Making The Beat #2 – This Is Africa

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