Live Hip Hop Drum Setups

chillybase

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So I'm venturing into trying to play hip hop in a live drummer kind of way and I'm curious what setups you have going on in terms of drums and cymbals. I'm thinking in terms of acoustic/organic drums and not really utilizing electronic drums.

What sizes do you prefer and what cymbals are you using?

Some groups that I'd like to emulate the vibe of are De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Jurassic 5, J Dilla and others in a similar vein. I suppose some of these groups could be considered a jazzy hip hop style.

I'd consider my playing level between beginner and intermediate. Some days are better than others. :)
 

Tmcfour

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I don't think you would have to look any further than ?uestlove. The Roots do live Hip Hop like no other.

PS- Total respect for any group that has Tribe Called Quest as a sound influence.

So like TheMattJones said small kit. Tuned higher. I'd add: do some research into James Brown and Steveie Wonder. A ton of TCQ era drums were sampled or influenced from those sources.
 

jaymandude

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What I would do, at the most basic, is a kick, 2 snares, two hats for sure to start. one high and tight, either a 12 or 13, or a regular cheap metal steel, but muffled. And a loose wet side snare, but that's more for effect and gets less use, although you can incorporate both drums into a song. Are you familiar with " All Time Low" by Jon Bellion ?
 

chillybase

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Check out Daru Jones, he plays a unique kit with uncommon technique, and looks like a total badass while doing it. He puts a ton of vids up on Instagram.
Daru does have an interesting setup. I almost bought his signature cymbal setup but I had no way of testing them out beforehand. Drum shops are a few hours away from me, so I have to buy blind or hope that the sound sample is as close as it would sound in person. I did buy his sticks to try out but I didn't gel with them. I think his signature kit looks pretty sweet. And as much as his signature kit is touted as being so portable, he certainly posts a lot videos playing on backline gear.

Another drummer that is sort of in the vein of Jazz Hop or whatever that I like is Billy Martin. I saw today that he picked up a bunch of the Zildjian Avedis line, the new reissues.
 

jaymandude

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Daru does have an interesting setup. I almost bought his signature cymbal setup but I had no way of testing them out beforehand. Drum shops are a few hours away from me, so I have to buy blind or hope that the sound sample is as close as it would sound in person. I did buy his sticks to try out but I didn't gel with them. I think his signature kit looks pretty sweet. And as much as his signature kit is touted as being so portable, he certainly posts a lot videos playing on backline gear.

Another drummer that is sort of in the vein of Jazz Hop or whatever that I like is Billy Martin. I saw today that he picked up a bunch of the Zildjian Avedis line, the new reissues.
"Mafia Track Suit"- great name
 

Jorn

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Check out Daru Jones, he plays a unique kit with uncommon technique, and looks like a total badass while doing it. He puts a ton of vids up on Instagram.
I personally think it looks silly and that he could play better on a normal setup.
 

bongomania

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I personally think it looks silly and that he could play better on a normal setup.
Play “better” by what standard? He’s on hit records and he has a huge following. Loads of people playing “normal setups” struggle to get anywhere close to his success and recognition. He spent many years playing normal kits, and developed his own thing.
 

Trilock_Gurtu

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There are three guys to look at (more I'm sure, but these three are musts, imo):

1. Questlove
2. Chris Dave
3. Adam Deitch

I've done quite a bit of live hip hop drumming. Set wise, like anything, it depends on the songs. I've done some that require LOTS of electronics - hybrid stuff. So, triggers on snare and bass drum, a few pads, loops, click, back tracks, etc.

Other times, its very organic based. The constant between the two is: kick, at least two snares (I've used up to four, 10", 12", 14" and 16"), hi hats (sometimes two sets), ride, a crash or two, trash/effect type cymbals, some percussion, maybe a floor tom. Rarely do I bring other toms, but its happen. I'll always check with the artist first, if they want that vibe or not.

Do A LOT of practice to a click/loops. Lots of artist want you to do the drum machine thing, but also practice playing behind and ahead of the click, like Quest on D' Angelo's amazing 'Voodoo' album. Also, practice the "drunken" Quest/Chris Dave beat. This is where the human vibe comes in. Oh, study up on J-Dilla beats - A LOT. Here's a great J-Dilla groove...


If you have to do the drum machine/programmed vibe, practice playing all your notes without accents, specially hi hat notes. When I first started doing a lot of HH gigs, I'd just sit there and record myself playing 8ths on the HH's, at different BPM's. I had to work to straighten them out, lose the "human/swing/accent" feel. The hard part at first, going back and forth between the two feel types (human - machine). Practice that - a lot.

Next. To. No. Fills. Practice discipline.

Sound. Great HH drumming is all about getting the RIGHT sound, for each piece of the drums. Getting the right BEAT, and locking in. I've worked with some artists that want me to bring the human element, but most of the time I'm doing 80/20 - 80% locked in/machine/etc, and 20% human/live drummer element (fills, human feels, etc). That ratio can change from artist to artist (and song to song, even), but that is my general experience.

Tuning. Snares especially - various tuning's, you'll likely need a good low, med and high (POP), sounds. Don't be afraid to tape up a drum, to get the right affect. Yes, 'Big Fat Snare' drums work great. I'll run a bass drum with a good 'general' HH sound, but also a trigger, to add 808, LOW end, etc.

Different hip hop styles/feels. Study up on the various era's, beats, history of hip hop, including old school funk type beats (like the Gogo, see video below), James Brown (you KNOW which one in particular you HAVE to know/play), and more.

Some cool videos:




 
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MillerMav

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I agree with everything written so far but if you're not going to do electronics you will need something to emulate a hand clap sound. You certainly go with the Agop clap stack, which is about the closest thing I've heard but the right combo of cymbals from any company could probably get you there.
 

chillybase

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"Mafia Track Suit"- great name
Thanks, Jaymandude. We had fun for a little while. We had some songs on Rock Band but ultimately the band didn't get much lift off the ground. My drummer and friend from that band passed away from a heart condition. And so now I'm on this drumming journey.
 

dtk

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FWIW...I have the Daru Jone's 12" Ride...its interesting...nice bell and a good hip/hop ride sound...don't love the crash.

Meinl Ambaco(?) hats and Paiste 400 Color sounds (or maybe even any old color sound) have sounds that to me sound a little like analog drum machine cymbals.

If you like Jurassic 5...check out Charli 2 Na's work with Ozomatli (their former drummer Mario used to visit here) and Roots Manuva. Roots is big in the UK and his music is unusual.
 

chillybase

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There are three guys to look at (more I'm sure, but these three are musts, imo):

1. Questlove
2. Chris Dave
3. Adam Deitch

I've done quite a bit of live hip hop drumming. Set wise, like anything, it depends on the songs. I've done some that require LOTS of electronics - hybrid stuff. So, triggers on snare and bass drum, a few pads, loops, click, back tracks, etc.

Other times, its very organic based. The constant between the two is: kick, at least two snares (I've used up to four, 10", 12", 14" and 16"), hi hats (sometimes two sets), ride, a crash or two, trash/effect type cymbals, some percussion, maybe a floor tom. Rarely do I bring other toms, but its happen. I'll always check with the artist first, if they want that vibe or not.

Do A LOT of practice to a click/loops. Lots of artist want you to do the drum machine thing, but also practice playing behind and ahead of the click, like Quest on D' Angelo's amazing 'Voodoo' album. Also, practice the "drunken" Quest/Chris Dave beat. This is where the human vibe comes in. Oh, study up on J-Dilla beats - A LOT. Here's a great J-Dilla groove...


If you have to do the drum machine/programmed vibe, practice playing all your notes without accents, specially hi hat notes. When I first started doing a lot of HH gigs, I'd just sit there and record myself playing 8ths on the HH's, at different BPM's. I had to work to straighten them out, lose the "human/swing/accent" feel. The hard part at first, going back and forth between the two feel types (human - machine). Practice that - a lot.

Next. To. No. Fills. Practice discipline.

Sound. Great HH drumming is all about getting the RIGHT sound, for each piece of the drums. Getting the right BEAT, and locking in. I've worked with some artists that want me to bring the human element, but most of the time I'm doing 80/20 - 80% locked in/machine/etc, and 20% human/live drummer element (fills, human feels, etc). That ratio can change from artist to artist (and song to song, even), but that is my general experience.

Tuning. Snares especially - various tuning's, you'll likely need a good low, med and high (POP), sounds. Don't be afraid to tape up a drum, to get the right affect. Yes, 'Big Fat Snare' drums work great. I'll run a bass drum with a good 'general' HH sound, but also a trigger, to add 808, LOW end, etc.

Different hip hop styles/feels. Study up on the various era's, beats, history of hip hop, including old school funk type beats (like the Gogo, see video below), James Brown (you KNOW which one in particular you HAVE to know/play), and more.

Some cool videos:




What is your go-to ride for most shows?

I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks for the links and all. This is good stuff.
 

musiqman

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Hip-hop itself is a wide spectrum, so a good start would be to pin-point which era you want to play, artists that inspire you, what kind of Hip-Hop and more.

When I look at my own setups I used for recording drums for Wu-Tang members Hell Razah & Shyheim, Bad Brya, Salah Edin, and more for producer Shroom, I use toms (and a lot of them) for the fills. With that in mind, I always used at least three toms (4 when possible and the addition of a gong drum always works well). Electronics (sample pads and/or Ableton Live) when playing live, also is essential I have found.

If you look at Questlove, he uses a two up/two down setup mostly live too (besides is the rig for Fallon) with a standard 10/12/14/16/22 config and 4,5 shallow or steel snare, for that same reason. He even had a gong on floor tom legs when he was with Yamaha

Regarding cymbal sounds. Dark, short and electronic. I love the Oriental Crash Of Doom line (18,20, 22, 24) as they are dark, trashy but also very very quickly so they won't intervene with the bars being spat. The Trashformer works very well too. And I heard the Istanbul Clap Stack by studio monster Trevor Lawrence Jr. which sounded very good to emulate the clap sound acoustically too.





And this is one of my favorite live performances I did:

With Shroom I did Sample Packs too:

 
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musiqman

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Some pure Hip-Hop setups I have used through the last 22 years:


















Very diverse as you can see. Suited for each occasion. There are times minimal setups just don't work (heck listen to Dilla. Breaks all over the place). What does work is getting your internal timing right. Practice with different tempo's daily and do so on a kick snare hat setup only first. When you think you are there. You are not.

The reason I love working with a producer like Shroom is that he is demanding. Very demanding. And has every right to be so. And it works. It gets the best out of you as a drummer.
 
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Trilock_Gurtu

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What is your go-to ride for most shows?

I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks for the links and all. This is good stuff.
I usually use anything dry and with definition. I've taped my rides up, to. That being said, the ride doesn't get used as much in HH.

My advice when you're first getting into live HH drumming, just use a hi hat, kick and snare. It will force discipline, and make you just work on beats, nothing else. Also, it'll force you to make the most with what you have. You'll figure out how to get more voices out of those three pieces. Don't get caught up on huge kit set ups, or what others are using. In the end, its all about the beats, grooves and sounds.
 

chillybase

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I usually use anything dry and with definition. I've taped my rides up, to. That being said, the ride doesn't get used as much in HH.

My advice when you're first getting into live HH drumming, just use a hi hat, kick and snare. It will force discipline, and make you just work on beats, nothing else. Also, it'll force you to make the most with what you have. You'll figure out how to get more voices out of those three pieces. Don't get caught up on huge kit set ups, or what others are using. In the end, its all about the beats, grooves and sounds.
Thank you. Yeah, I'm cool with sticking to a small setup.

This is my current setup using these L80 cymbals for low volume practice. My currents cymbals are 15" A New Beats, 18" A Medium Thin Crash, 18" A Avedis crash/ride (new version), 20" A Medium Thin Crash, an old 60s Avedis 22" Ride (though I'm not really fond of it). I guess this stuff is more on the brighter side. My 14" is a rack tom with Inde mounts so that I can switch it back and forth between rack and floor.

70637760_10157037171372732_7039150127663022080_o.jpg
 

chillybase

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Hip-hop itself is a wide spectrum, so a good start would be to pin-point which era you want to play, artists that inspire you, what kind of Hip-Hop and more.

When I look at my own setups I used for recording drums for Wu-Tang members Hell Razah & Shyheim, Bad Brya, Salah Edin, and more for producer Shroom, I use toms (and a lot of them) for the fills. With that in mind, I always used at least three toms (4 when possible and the addition of a gong drum always works well). Electronics (sample pads and/or Ableton Live) when playing live, also is essential I have found.

If you look at Questlove, he uses a two up/two down setup mostly live too (besides is the rig for Fallon) with a standard 10/12/14/16/22 config and 4,5 shallow or steel snare, for that same reason. He even had a gong on floor tom legs when he was with Yamaha

Regarding cymbal sounds. Dark, short and electronic. I love the Oriental Crash Of Doom line (18,20, 22, 24) as they are dark, trashy but also very very quickly so they won't intervene with the bars being spat. The Trashformer works very well too. And I heard the Istanbul Clap Stack by studio monster Trevor Lawrence Jr. which sounded very good to emulate the clap sound acoustically too.





And this is one of my favorite live performances I did:

With Shroom I did Sample Packs too:

I really dig that Vintage Drum Breaks teaser video. Were you using all Ks for that recording?
 

musiqman

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I really dig that Vintage Drum Breaks teaser video. Were you using all Ks for that recording?
Thanks!

The last picture was from that recording session if I remembered correctly (we did so many, it so hard to keep track of what I used as my set-up evolves with the recordings).

It was a mix of Brilliant 90's K's (17'' and 19'' crash and 19'' china), My 22'' Zak Starkey prototype, a set of prototype 22'' K Istanbul inspired hats, 19'' Kerope, and 16'' ''The Spark'' made from my old K crash.

-edit-

The above setup was from this session:

On the first Vintage Drum Breaks I used the Oak rig as in the second picture without the electronics and with the gong.
 
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