So, you have completed the work at a new hip-hop track – the song has been arranged and recorded, and now you just need to bring it to perfection and release it. While getting down to work, some tips you can follow won’t be superfluous to you.
1.Rap and hip-hop are such styles in which some carelessness and the absence of “lacquer” studio sound aren’t considered a fault, but are even encouraged as well. That is why the search for mid side mixing techniques which have work experience in this style is getting particularly important to your success as a rising hip-hop star.
As for vocal, it’s the most important element in rap music so it should be placed as near to a listener as possible. No washy reverberation! Vocal should sound just in face and not be blurred by other sounds. If any of instruments conflict with vocal because of a place in a mix, it should be equalized in such a way that it will be put on the background, and the advantage will be given to the voice.
2. Another distinctive feature of the hip-hop style is a large and fat bottom end, and it can turn out to be a major issue for unsigned artists who prefer affordable to professional studios. The low part of the spectrum is quite complicated to deal with as it has enormous energy and weight and requires appropriate equipment, and the most important thing is sound engineer’s experience to make it take a proper place. In order to avoid limiter’s overload on master bus, it is bound to use sidechain compression for massive bass sounds which often sound along with hard kick. If you don’t set about it initially, no mixing studio even the best one will solve problems of clipping as well as overload of a final track with low frequencies.
3. Hip-hop compositions like a construction set are pretty often assembled from separate samples. They can be drum loops, some instrumental loops and other sounds from different sample libraries. It partly simplifies the task of rap songs mixing and mastering. But be careful – what sounded perfectly on its own can require some updating in the context of a mix to elaborate a certain sound plan and not to conflict with key elements of a song. The other side of the same coin is the track assembled from the sounds of diverse sources. It can actually sound like a sample set, but not like a single music piece. The art of an mixing engineer is to give them cohesion and form up a splendid mix from a “construction set”. Each part of this mix strictly completes its task.
4. A little more about vocal. As stated before, to “drown” vocal in fat reverberation and to put it on the background isn’t encouraged when mixing rap music. It doesn’t mean that the voice is left completely dry – more often is short delay with enough feedback used or at least short reverberation. Vocal compression is also aimed at putting it at most forward. A palmary example although it isn’t the only right is preset Pensado RAP Squash 12 dB of the compressor RComp by Waves. When attack time is quite short and Ratio = 50 is maximum, the compressor works just like a limiter by cutting all peaks hard and giving powerful excitation to the sound. I know from my personal experience that only Renaissance compressor has a specific sound in this mode which perfectly suits aggressive vocal compression. Experiments with other kinds of compressors were far less successful.
5. Hip-hop mastering. This style is quite loud that’s why the goal of your trap music mixing service is to squeeze all the potential of loudness from a song. The main thing is not kill track dynamics for good as the issue of groove remains not less important, this is the basis of rap and hip-hop music. Once you flatten the track as ever you could, you’ll get a lifeless and uninteresting sound. Furthermore, this sound often strains listener’s ears. It’s hardly what you would like to. It’s by far more sensible to get the track for super loud sound at the stage of creating mix. Whereas mixing through a limiter/clipper is a wonderful solution. It’ll give you an opportunity to feel at the beginning how the song will sound at the end. And taking account of quite a powerful sound of the song in the area of bottom ends as stated in item 2, mixing rapmusic with an adjusted limiter (even if it’s a rough version, “semi-mastering”) will allow you to be more precise in solving issues of compression in particular bass sounds sidechain compression. By no means I don’t want to underestimate the work of mastering engineers, quite the contrary – while estimating a track in such a way, you will help them out with achieving the best results. In the end all will benefit from it.
6. It would be a good thing to go by commercial CD during work at mixing studio. However, this recommendation is rightful not only for rap/hip-hop music, but also for any other styles. Select some tracks which are the closest to you in sound and at times compare your result with their sound. In such a simple way it’s quite often easy to find minor errors in mastering chain and estimate whether there is enough loudness at the output or it still needs pushing.