Since its beginnings in the late ‘70s, hip-hop has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, producing successful independent and crossover musical artists alike. No one would say that there is not hip-hop coming from other parts of the world, but it is an American art form first. Someone interested in producing this music should learn the history of the art, who was making this music, and how an education in music can make all the difference.
Sylvia Robinson: Breakout Hip-Hop Producer
Sylvia Robinson was record producer and the founder of Sugar Hill Records. A monumental figure in the development of hip-hop, she produced “Rappers Delight” for the Sugar Hill Gang and “The Message” for Grandmaster Flash. She is often referred to as “The mother of hip-hop.”
Run-DMC: Hip-Hop Royalty
Larry Smith was co-producer (alongside Russell Simmons) on hip-hop group Run-DMC’s albums Run-D.M.C. and King of Rock. Run-DMC would go on to work with producer Rick Rubin on their third album Raising Hell, which included the first big crossover hip-hop/rock hit song “Walk This Way” with Aerosmith. Rick Rubin was one of the first music producers to work in the studio with both hip-hop artists and rock music artists at the same time.
Rick Rubin and The Beastie Boys
In addition to Run-DMC, Rick Rubin was also the producer for the Beastie Boys’ landmark album “Licensed to Ill” and was integral in orchestrating their meteoric rise in the world of hip-hop. The people who are listening to old rap might get interested in the Beastie Boys because that is a portal into the game that is a full mix of both rock and rap. This band was completely different because they were rappers, but they were using regular rock beats. This will come up later when people studio the audio that is used in modern remixes.
NWA And Solo Acts: Straight Out of Compton
NWA was not the first or only gangster rap band, but they were the first to split up and create something that allowed for stars to produce music. Dr Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy E experimented with the music that they made, created raw cuts that did not sound like they came from the fancy studios in Hollywood or Detroit, and they became producers in their own right along with being their own artists.
Dr. Dre: Hip-Hop God
Snoop Dogg was introduced to the hip-hop world by Dr. Dre and featured prominently on his debut solo album “The Chronic.” Dr. Dre’s production on “The Chronic” paved the way for him to become one hip-hop’s most sought-after music producers.
Master P: Hip-Hop Mogul
Master P is still a mogul in his own right because he gave way to people like Lil Romeo, but he was also making innovative music in the rap world. He was teaching people how to make their own music, and he was signing his own artists. This also meant that Dr. Dre was in a little bit of a competition with Master P as they both tried to make music that was unique and different.
Timbaland: Music Mix Master
Timbaland has been around for a long time, and he also helped usher in an era of unique production. He is known for putting beats behind One Republic, while still making his own music and finding other artists. His story is like so many others. He is the guy who learned how to handle audio while he was also learning how to rap and make music.
Lil Kim, Craig Mack, And K-Def: Popular Hip-Hop Producers
Lil Kim, Craig Mack, and K-Def are three producers who were very popular in the 1990s. The people who were making music in the 90s could have spun off of these people, and they also made way for people like Aaliyah who a superstar bigger than most people could imagine.
Diddy: Hip-Hop Influencer
Diddy, Puff Daddy, and Sean Combs are all the same person. He was the biggest name in the music game along with Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. The people in this group get their own category, and they are here because they are either still in the game or still a big influence. Tupac and Biggie died just days apart, and their music has held up as some of the best in the genre. Many artists still connect with Diddy to produce music. He is someone who has expanded his reach working with all kinds of singers and media projects just like Pharrell has.
Pharrell: Hip-Hop that Makes a Difference
Pharrell is a producer and self-taught musician whose hits include music like the soundtrack to Despicable Me. He has also made albums for some of the greatest artists in the world.
What Does This Mean for Hip-Hop Producers of Today?
Today’s Hip-hop producers can learn the way that their contemporaries learned. Hip-hop producers are about experimenting in the studio, making their own music, and sharing the music online.
Where Do People Learn About Producing Music?
People can learn about producing hip-hop music from a short program at a vocational school. Someone who is planning to learn about the world of music could get their training, go into a studio, and intern with someone who knows the history of hip-hop. The history of the music world has changed so much that people can become producers faster, they have much more to take inspiration from, and they have more people that they could work for. Learning this artform requires that people learn about Sylvia Robinson, learn about Pumpkin, and adapt the changes that Dr. Dre and Diddy made.
Did learning about the evolution of hip-hop music interest you? The audio production and engineering program at the Institute of Production and Recording is an occupational degree program designed to train producer engineers who are entrepreneurs, musically and technically creative, and proficient in modern recording technology and technique. Throughout the program, students work on hands-on exercises and real-world studio projects that enable them to apply their knowledge and refine their skills.
At the end of the audio production and engineering program, each student presents a portfolio — a selection of his or her best work to date. This serves as a demo reel for potential employers and clients — an audio resume with professional content that highlights the graduate’s talent and skill.
Contact us today to learn more about the audio production and engineering program and starting a rewarding career in the music industry.