The History Of Music Production In Hip Hop🎶

How hip-hop music production started?

Hip-hop music production was started along with the birth of hip-hop music in the 1970s in the United States. The production of hip-hop music can encompass everything like record producing, songwriting, supervising recording sessions, composing, etc. To understand hip-hop music production and how it started, we should understand what hip-hop music is and how it started. So, let's dive straight into it!

Producing music using a mixer and production software

What is Hip-hop music?

Hip-hop music is an amazing genre of music and the basic characteristics of hip-hop music include powerful rhythmic beats and vocal tracks. Hip-hop music is a part of hip-hop culture and the hip-hop culture is spread over different aspects like Djing, rapping, graffiti, and break dancing. In past, the youth of hip-hop culture used to draw graffiti on the walls, later on, DJs rule the hip-hop culture. However, rapping contributed heavily to the hip-hop music on the map!  

How hip-hop music started?

Hip-hop music was started in New York City in the 1970s during cultural mixing among Black, Caribbean, and Latino youth. It was the era of New York Block Parties in hip-hop music. It was the time when DJs were the key figure to promote hip-hop music. After it, drum machines, MPCs, and new hardware opened new ways of producing hip-hop music. Finally, the era of Gangster Persona came when rappers and hip-hop music explored new venues and hip-hop became more popular.

The beginning of hip hop and music production

Who were the founders of hip-hop music?

A lot of artists and creative people contributed to the creation of hip-hop music but the most notable and influential person was Clive Campbell aka DJ Kool Herc. He was the first major hip-hop disc jockey who introduced the technique of playing the same album on turntables and created a breakbeat by extending the drum section. The first event where he did it was the party in the Bronx on August 11, 1973, and that event is considered the birth of hip-hop and he is considered among the major founder of hip-hop music. Other than him, DJ Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash are considered the early pioneers of hip-hop music.

DJ Kool Producing Music


What was the first major hip-hop song?

The hip-hop culture and music originated in the early 1970s but the first major hip-hop single genre hit song came in 1979 in the shape of Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”. It was an instant hit and it spread like a wildfire. Within weeks of its release, it became a chart-topping phenomenon that contributed to a new genre of pop music. 

Sugarhill Records: Rappers Delight

The history of hip-hop music production

To understand the history of hip-hop music production, you have to understand the history of the following elements or pillars of hip-hop music production.


Sampling was the basic building block of hip-hop music production and pop culture. In sampling, a segment of another music recording is used as a part of own recording. This technique was initially employed by Afrika Bambaataa in 1982 in Planet Rock when he used sampled parts of the dance act Kraftwerk.

The basis of sampling is simple; it is a technique in which the part of music is spliced out or copied to rearrange or rework in a manner that creates rhythm and music. However, now sampling is not widely used due to change copyright laws that discourage the use of other's music without permission.

The most popular hardware device in sampling was Akai’s MPC. It was an amazing sequencer and sampler. However, now it is replaced by Digital Audio Workstations or DAWs

Old school Akai MPC 2000XL Sampler

Drum Beat

The drum beat is a central element of hip-hop music production. In the past, most of the beats were created with the help of drum machines. However, sample beats were also used in the past when new beats were not created in the music.

In terms of hardware, the most popular drum machine is the analog Roland TR-808. It ruled the hip-hop production for decades. However, for sampling, samplers like E-mu SP-12 andSP-1200, and Akai MPC were widely popular.

Roland TR808 Vintage Drum Machine


The turntable technique was introduced by DJ Kool Herc who migrated to New York from Jamaica. He developed and introduced the turntable technique that was made possible by the direct-drive turntable technology introduced in Technics SL-1100. He is considered the first person to play two copies of the same record on two turntables in order to play and extend the favorite sections of the music.

In terms of hardware, the most popular turntables in hip-hop music are the Technics series of Panasonic. They become widely popular because Technics series turntables were the first turntables that eliminated belts and used a motor to directly drive the platter on which a vinyl record plays.

Old school turn table used for producing music


Synthesizers are widely used in the production of hip-hop music. The primary function of synthesizers is to produce stunning melodies, and basslines, and to create new sound textures on the basis of chords and sound synthesis.

Synthesizers became popular after they were used by Dr. Dre during the era of G-funk. To this day, synthesizers are used widely. However, now the composers use virtual instruments in case of budget or space constraints in the studio instead of the instruments.

Dr. Dre Synthesiser

Recording Hardware

Recording hardware consists of vocal recording hardware and other recording hardware to record tracks. In terms of vocal recording, a condenser microphone is proffered especially in the studio setting. It is so because condenser microphones record and produce high-quality sound as compared to other dynamic microphones. However, dynamic microphones are used to produce songs in concerts and open settings because condenser microphones have limitations like fragility and phantom power requirements.

Moreover, historically, a multi-track recorder was widely used for recording during the production of hip-hop music. In the 1980s, the Portastudio cassette recorder was popular for recording, and in the 1990s, Digital ADAT tape recorders became popular. However, now, all of this is mostly replaced with Digital Audio Workstations or DAWs.     

Digital Audio Workstation


In conclusion, hip-hop music production started along with the introduction of hip-hop in the 1970s. However, it flourished significantly as the genre of hip-hop became popular. Now, hip-hop is further expanded into subgenres like a trap, gangsta rap, grime, rap-rock, chillhop, bounce, rap-rock, and mumble rap. Moreover, although, the hardware used in the production of hip-hop is improved significantly, but the rich history of hip-hop culture will always remember and admire all the hardware that helped hip-hop to improve and reach this level.




1 comment


    taurence lopez

Leave a comment