The Best Hip Hop Instrumental Beats
Though lyrics form the backbone of great music, instrumentals can often make lasting impressions as well – this is particularly true of hip-hop beats that have inspired musicians beyond those spitting over them. Discover the best info about rap beats.
Nas’ timeless classic features an irresistibly catchy patois sample, filtered bass line, and unforgettable piano melody that conjures up images of Queensbridge stairwell nightmares that he describes on this timeless track. Additionally, this tune ushered moody impressionism into hip-hop music production as Kanye West and J Dilla would later use similar production techniques on their projects.
1. Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang”
Some songs come and go, while others alter the course of music forever. “G-Funk,” by Dre and Snoop, became an instant classic and pioneered an entire era of laidback West Coast grooves that became an integral part of 1990s hip-hop.
A classic 808 drum kit and simple beat featuring hypnotically repeated patois vocal samples were the foundation for this timeless track, providing rappers the ideal environment to deliver their rugged gangster rhymes and become household names.
2. Timbaland’s “N–a What, N–a Who?”
Producers like Just Blaze and Knxwledge have perfected the art of making futuristic-sounding beats. Combining strobe synths with drums that constantly shift, Talib Kweli’s lyrics about social activism proved compellingly captivating on an instrumental track made by them.
Nujabes’ jazzy, melodic production has long been revered in hip-hop. This timeless piece offers the ideal setting to practice freestyling or vibe out.
Timbaland’s genre-defying production propelled Jay Z and U.G.K. to new heights. By employing a captivating flute sample, he created a one-of-a-kind exotic soundscape that perfectly complimented their braggadocious rhymes from Port Arthur.
3. Nas’ “Illmatic”
Nas’ Illmatic was the first rap album to address issues such as poverty and gun violence with honesty and intelligence, making it one of the most influential albums ever released. Producers D.J. Premier, Large Professor, and Q-Tip assembled an outstanding production team that created beats so dense and vibrant that you could freestyle over them forever – including their famous rat-a-tat drum fill that has since become one of rap music’s iconic drum fills.
House of Pain’s hit song “Jump Around” relied heavily on an infectious horn sample and iconic bassline to propel their worldwide fame. Neptune’s innovative style was showcased perfectly here, creating an infectious beat that complimented Common’s emotive lyrics.
4. The Pharcyde’s “Runnin'”
Pink Floyd is known for creating instrumental masterpieces, but “Runnin'” stands out for its crescendoing pace and unique texture. As part of their underrated Meddle album, “Runnin'” incorporates various samples into an intricate and rewarding musical journey.
D.J. Premier was known for creating haunting and atmospheric beats, which perfectly complimented 2Pac’s menacing lyrics and storytelling prowess. A hypnotic piano loop, woodblock melodies, and heavy drums created a unique moody environment on this song from D.J. Premier that stands the test of time.
Dead Prez’s thought-provoking and political lyrics pair perfectly with Hedrush’s thunderous drums and pulsating bassline to create an iconic track that still resonates with listeners today. This track remains timeless.
5. Pete Rock’s “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)”
Pete Rock was known for sourcing obscure soul and jazz records as samples, often including horn loops. Based out of Mount Vernon, New York, their duo “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” depicts family relationships and their appreciation of working-class life – inspired by the death of fellow rapper/heavy D backup dancer who passed away.
Tom Scott’s cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “Today” gave the beat its moody impressionism that would influence producers like Kanye West and J Dilla later. Additionally, this track boasted the most well-known rat-a-tat drum fill in hip-hop history.
6. Hudson Mohawked’s “Cbat”
An instrumental track doesn’t always require memorable lyrics to make an impression impactful statement. A captivating rhythm and composition can often suffice.
Trap music began with this hypnotically repetitive patois sample over an 808 drum kit and set the scene for rappers to unleash their freestyle skills. The iconic “rat-a-tat snare breakdown” remains one of hip-hop’s most imitated drum fills.
Wu-Tang classic “Hood Warfare” marked a remarkable breakthrough in creating tension and drama on hip-hop records. It featured haunting piano chords and an unsettling bassline which combined perfectly with Raekwon and Inspectah Deck’s tale of street warfare.
7. Doja Cat’s “Say So”
Bangladesh banger “Rat-a-tat Snare Drum Beat” has become one of the most iconic tracks in hip hop, being widely credited with pioneering trap music as we know it today.
This song tells the tale of a female clubgoer hoping to hook up with the man she meets at her favorite hangout spot, supported by a chorus of animal-faced musicians sporting prosthetics who sing bubblegum lyrics of this catchy tune.
Production-wise, this song brings Hudson Mohawke’s “Cbat” to mind, but Doja Cat’s rapping does not match. Her breathy delivery lacks the charisma needed for such an emotionally charged topic as flirtation and strip club sex.