Hip Hop Lines

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bassmcgee, Sep 30, 2004.

  1. bassmcgee


    Sep 8, 2004
    Hey. Going to a jam session tomorrow, and we're going to be putting together some freestyle hip hop. Im wondering if you guys have any basis on how you put together some phat (hah) bass lines for hip hop. IE: Certain modes/scales/notes/positions or whatever.

    If you have your basis for something related, or even on just what you work with to put together some lines for any style, post it here, as Im curious, and need some help.

  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Personally, for this impromtu 'jam', I wouldn't fret over modes/scales/notes/positions as much as I would focus on rhythm & feel.
    1)A Hip-Hop groove may be in an 1/8th note feel(doesn't necessarily mean you play nuthin but 1/8th notes...just keep it steady in a 1&2&3&4& vibe. Think about nailing the "1"; maybe later you can think about playing 'off the "1"'(say bar 4 in a 4-bar phrase?).
    2)A Hip-Hop groove may be 'swung'...i.e. a Hip-Hop shuffle. Swing the 1/8th notes, play with in a Triplet feel, etc.

    Keep it simple...like I metioned above, maybe try to think in a 4-bar phrase; make the 4th bar where yopu deviate 'a little'. Make sure you're back strong on the next bar's "1".
    For Phat-ness, try to play 'long' deep notes'(not so staccato, don't live on the "G"-string).

    Here's a 4-bar rhythm that popped into my head while typing this. Try it with a Root note like "G"-

    If you note, bar 4 doesn't play on the "1".

    Have fun!
  3. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Phat=keep it in the lower part E, A, and D string.

    go with rhythm and just make sure when you find the groove, lock it tight with the drums.

  4. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    We have good a Hip Hop band in Milwaukee called Off Tha Hook.


    Bass, drums, guitar, keys, and a vocalist. These guys are all white-dudes, but it's no parody - they're GOOD!

    The bassist plays simple and tight - he really grooves with that drummer! I think those tight, earth-shaking notes were emminating from a Warwick bass when I saw them at a festival a few weeks ago.

    I went to their site, hoping to find an MP3 of them for you - but no-cigar.

    Good luck! I hope I get the same opportunity to try jamming Hiphop. When I saw these guys I was thinking "Man, would I love that gig".

  5. Wildside


    Jan 12, 2004
    theater of pain
    learn some funk stuff. A lot of the lines that Dr Dre sampled for The Chronic were classic funk grooves. Naughty by Nature has used a few earth wind and fire melodies, and of course we can't forget mc hammer's killer interpretation of the superfreak melody.
  6. Don W

    Don W

    Jan 30, 2004
    East Bay, CA.
    Exactly, don't get too compicated or technical. Two bar phrasing is all you need. Think of the lines from Cypress Hill songs like "Cock The Hammer" or "Lick a Shot". Simple lines with solid grooves.
  7. jtauban


    Oct 28, 2003
    good advice around here.
    Get familiar with the style. A few personnal recommendations:

    Like Water For Chocolate by COMMON, anything recent by THE ROOTS (one song in their last album with the most daring bass line ever: one short note, on the one, every other bar. now that's minimalism! and it works so well), and ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT of course. And this great musician (and bassplayer) RAPHAEEL SADIQ (his last album Instant Vintage is full of treats for bassists)

    And what's for me the heaven of groove in HipHop / nusoul: Voodoo by D'ANGELO. Check out the feel the drum and bass create there. A new definition of pocket. Drums pushing it like crazy, ondulating Bass lines all around it.

    Hiphop, and electronic music in general have a lot of inspiring things for us musicians if we let go with the fact that it's often machines playing these grooves. Specially two directions: SOUND and FEEL

    Feel is by far the most important when you play HipHop. For me, it's very much like jazz, where the soloist is the rapper. But rappers are used to do their thing on a repetitive one or two bars loop. You have to create that loop with the drummer. If you listen to a lot of hiphop, you'll notice that the DJ often drops that loop at the end of a verse, the beginning of a bar, or any other place. It's interesting to see that DJs did this to simulate breaks usually played by bands in funk and rock. Now when you play hiphop, try to do that as well. Think of your playing as a loop that you can take on and off. Drop it for a verse, It'll make everybody crazy when you bring it back on!

    Another word on feel: since a lot of hiphop beats and lines are created by collage, it has become sort of a trademark to have some kind of misplacement, like drums straight and bass playing shuffle together, Or one note always played way ahead of the beat (or way behind). This is a tricky concept to recreate, and it takes great mastery of the groove to hold that "shakiness" together in a rythm section.

    As for sound, make it deep. Think soul, reggae, old jazz... Well it doesn't mean you can't slap or enjoy your high end definition, but you might have the MCs hate you for that! Also, there is a lot of room for experimentation, as far as playing techniques are concerned. Muting is definitely a technique to consider. Remember the concept of loop, and you can make your own collage!

    Have fun, this is a great genre to play. Sort of "instant vintage"

  8. si_mon13


    Sep 1, 2003
    keep an ear on the bass drum, lay down something simple, yet groovy, add simple variations as you progress, the importaint thing is to have a main riff/lick whatever.. ghostnotes does great.
    listen to some the roots, a tribe called quest, pharcyde and various funk records.
  9. andrewd


    Sep 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    check out "I Wish" by Stevie Wonder...im sure that bassline would be pure carrots on a good hip hop track
  10. {OE}


    Sep 23, 2004
    Connecticut, U.S.
    All good advice so far....

    If your going after the typical West Coast feel, anything by Parliment/Funkadelic will not lead you astray.... East Coast style is typically alot more Jazz/Motown orientated.. Anything from the "Dirty South" is likely to be in the middle ground of the other two...

    The Roots IMO, are the shiz as far as live Hip-Hop is concerned. Also, theres alot of good Trip Hop/Jungle/Drum and Bass artists that would be good sources of inspiration Massive Attack, Tricky, Goldie, Roni Size and Reprezent, Portishead, etc.....

    :edit: For straight up Hip-Hop listen to these as well:

    A Tribe Called Quest- The Low End Theory

    Arrested Development- 3 Years, 5 Months, And 2 Days In The Life Of....

    Spearhead- Any

    Digable Planets- Reachin': A New Refutation Of Time And Space

    Wyclef Jean -The Carnival

    Cant go wrong with Sly and the Family Stone, Cool and the Gang, and Earth, Wind, and Fire either.....
  11. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    All great advice, nothing to add really! :)

    Early hip-hop was funk records sampled, Roy Ayers, JB... oh and

    Modern stuff is played and has some difficult sycopated grooves, made more so by the sparceness of them. My appraoch at this sort of thing would be to start off real simple, like JimK said, nail the one, then start adding in accents here and there as the groove warms up.

    Harmonically, your talking root, 5th, octave, minor pentatonic, dorian type stuff. Just really simple with lots of space. Repeating a phrase with a very subtle fill every 4 or 8 bars is the kind of thing that I'd use.
  12. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    keep it simple. like "so boring simple, you dont know why you're even there" simple.

    freestyle emcees just really need the beat, and anything else actually gets in the way of the flow. contrary to what some think, the drums and bass dont make the groove. its the emcee's lines. you're just there to lay the fatness to the drums. just follow the bass drum, and you'll be golden.

    if you need inspiration, pickup the Roots' new one, "The Tipping Point", anything Beasties, and anything Eric B. & Rakim. memorize the Rakim ones, and you'll get mad cred.
  13. Superdave


    Apr 20, 2003
    St. Louis, MO
    I just saw The Roots live during the summer, they put on a kickass live show, the were better than the main act...311..

    Anyways, just sit in with the drums, find the pocket, make it groove but keep it simple..