To make good hip hop music, beats are formulated by the smart art of crate digging. What does this mean bad boy? Records from the genres of Jazz, Soul, Funk, Rock and the various sub genres are collected from dusty old, second hand vinyl stores, flea markets and op shops.
Now, a lot of this will sound erroneous to some of you. Some of you are already involved in the digging culture, but for you new producers getting into the game, I thought I'd break down a few things.
Hip Hop Vinyl
The original DJs such as Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaata spun vinyl. They created a way of extending the "break" of a song. The break of a song is when the song breaks down to solo drums or drums with minimal instrumentation over the top. The way they extended the break was by having doubles of the same record, playing one on one turn table then following with the other on the other turn table when the first one finished. Once the first finished, they would rewind the record so they could drop it again while the second side is playing, and so on. Here is an example below...
So you always here the DJ is the backbone of hip hop, that is because of the break. The break is the basis for hip hop music. B-Boys would "break" dance. That doesn't mean they were gonna hurt themselves, no, they were dancing to the break in the song.
So producers are digging for rare "breaks". The rarer the better, because of the whole prestige of having something no one else has. They even used to tape the labels on their records so no one would know what they were spinning!
A good resource for checking where famous producers find their breaks is http://www.whosampled.com/. Another good resource for finding drum breaks is http://www.mhat.com/phatdrumloops/. Drum breaks are important in hip hop music making. When you find that record with a drum solo on it, you can individually chop the kick, snare and hi hat and create your own drum patterns.
Another thing, the way music was recorded in the 1970s on vinyl is unlike anything else. So when sampling the record, you are soaking all that ambience from those recording sessions. Sampling YouTube videos, CDs and mp3s just does not have the same warm sound!
There are many machines producers use to sample records. I am just gonna briefly show you the two most popular. The MPC and the SP1200.
Now technology has advanced, and there is much more advanced gear on the market such as Maschine and computer based programs like Ableton. I personally like the raw grit of the older hardware, but the process for making beats is still basically the same.
The rest is basically up to you. How you put your flavor into what ever you are making is entirely up to you. Think outside the box. Keep your drums slightly up in the mix above the sample, just slightly. If you want to hear an example of my beat making abilities in the flesh, visit http://kidtsunamimusic.com