The best hip hop sample packs combine the authentic, street-savvy spirit of classic hip-hop with cutting-edge sounds that will rock clubs well into the future.
Of course, with so many sample packs out there, it can be hard to find out which ones deliver the goods.
Hence, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to check out current offerings, and reviewed ten of the best for you to get started with.
Loopmasters is our vendor of choice for this particular guide. If you’re not familiar with them, between them and their sister site Plugin Boutique, they’re pretty much the Amazon of music production.
So we’ve looked through their collection, and came up with some recommendations to get you started on the right track.
Let’s take a closer look!
A Brief History of Sampling in Hip Hop
Samples have been a part of hip-hop since the very beginning of the form. Even before hip-hop was a thing, DJs were mixing in bits of other records into a currently-playing track, producing mind-boggling, new musical combinations.
Although a lot of early hip-hop largely relied on actual musical instruments, it wasn’t long before samples dominated the sonic landscape. Crate-digging–which is essentially the practice of digging through crates of records in search of drum beats to sample–became inextricably associated with hip-hop. DJs and producers were known to guard their sample sources closely, and it became a badge of honor to use unknown samples in creative and inventive ways.
Some of the most-revered hip-hop classics were made with little more than samples. James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” is one of the most-sampled recordings in existence. Its recognizable drum break has in fact served as the basis for tracks from everyone from Public Enemy and Dr. Dre to Nicki Minaj.
Almost just as popular is “Amen, Brother” by The Winstons, the drum break of which made its way to tracks by NWA, Tyler, the Creator, and even Brit-pop band Oasis. This particular drum break is arguably even more iconic than the Funky Drummer break, having served as the rhythmic foundation for the entire Jungle and Drum and Bass genres.
Interestingly, the advent of downloadable music and file sharing hasn’t entirely done away with sampling and crate digging. Vinyl is actually undergoing a resurgence of sorts, and it doesn’t seem as if it is going away any time soon.
If you’re interested in sampling vinyl, we offer some recommendations for sampling turntables you should use.
In any case, samples remain an indelible part of hip-hop music production, even though it may occasionally take a back seat to other production methods. There are even more ways to incorporate samples in your music nowadays, from traditional crate-digging expeditions to downloading samples and buying ready-made sample packs.
Commercial sample packs are an especially convenient solution for those that aren’t too concerned about maintaining tradition. The sample packs reviewed below are especially fine examples of the current state of sample content, and they can be just to thing to spice up your hip-hop productions.
The 10 Best Hip Hop Sample Packs
Atmospheric Vinyl Breaks
Loopmasters Atmospheric Vinyl Breaks is a virtual grab-bag of gritty drum breaks and loops that will add some much-needed street cred to your tracks. Lovingly assembled and dripping with attitude, each and every break you will find here is the end result of hours of meticulous sonic craftsmanship.
Previously, the only way you could get breaks of this caliber was by spending hours upon hours digging the crates, day after day. Loopmasters have taken it upon themselves to do all the work involved in unearthing these forgotten gems, saving you a great deal of time and effort in the process.
The collection contains no less than 30 stunning breaks, each of which could easily serve as the backbone of a track. All the individual components are also included, along with a cool selection of drum hits as a bonus. You even get a choice of atmospherics that will imbue your productions with unmistakable authenticity.
Loops range from 78 to 132 BPM, giving you plenty of leeway to work in any tempo you desire. There are even shuffle loops for that distinctive hip-hop groove, and dark and moody beats that blur the line between hip-hop and abstract soundscapes.
Hip Hop Instrumentals
Hip Hop Instrumentals allows you to produce fully fleshed-out tracks even without an army of session musicians at your disposal. From noted sample purveyors Loopmasters, the collection brings together the finest sounds from premier producer, Chemo.
What you get for the price of admission is a stunning array of beats, breaks, and other tasty treats from Chemo’s own Kilimanjaro Studios. The spiritual center of London’s hip-hop scene, Kilimanjaro is a state-of-the-art facility from which Chemo produces his own work and produces other artists.
Chemo clearly has a pulse on modern hip-hop production, judging by the quality of the samples on Hip Hop Instrumentals. Citing his desire to capture an “organic feel”, the producer managed to assemble a superb array of sounds that call to mind the Golden Age of hip-hop.
Even so, the collection has enough creative flavor to work its way into more experimental projects as well. Authentic vinyl warmth and crackling is present in abundance, yet there are also plenty of loops that defy categorization.
More than 400 audio files are included in the 1 GB collection, comprising loops, one-shots, and individual drum elements. You also get patches in the most popular software sample formats, all of which are ready to load right out of the box.
The name “Raw Skillz” may call to mind rough-and-tumble beats ideally-suited suited for down and dirty hip-hop tracks. But the Loopmasters collection never gets overly nasty. In fact, it contains a varied range of styles and flavors that could make their way into even the most sophisticated productions.
Raw Skillz is the creative work of Raw Cutz, the ace production team responsible for such well-received sample packs as The Raw Cutz Super Pack, Prospect Haze, and Smokers Unite. With this release, Raw Cutz delivers even more of the tasty sounds and heavy beats that have made their previous projects so popular.
A surprising amount of jazzy funk grooves are included here, along with loads of beats from the Golden Age of hip-hop. The production may not be as low down and dirty as its name would suggest, but it does have a gritty and raw character that drips with attitude.
What kind of content do you get with Raw Skillz? Take your pick. From authentic vinyl needle drops to cut up chord work, snappy snares to crushing kicks, they’re all here in all their raw glory. You even get a good selection of hats and percussions, subsonic basses, and atmospheric effects in a supremely useful and versatile sample pack.
The rich, deep sounds of downtempo and loungey hip-hop are yours for the taking in this exquisite sample pack from Loopmasters. Called “Live Downtempo”, it is absolutely jam-packed with smoky grooves, classy atmospheric sounds, and soulful motifs.
As the name suggests, all the grooves you will find here were performed live by an ace team of musicians. This gives the samples a rich and organic flavor that is as authentic as they come. If you are looking for a quick way to add vibe and attitude to your productions, Live Downtempo will get you there at a fraction of the cost of a studio recording session.
The collection consists of a staggering array of files, totaling 3.09 GB in all. Fat beatbox patterns and funky basses dominate the proceedings, and you get a good selection of live drum beats as well. The keys department covers everything from soulful pianos to vintage-flavored synths, lush keys, and more.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Live Downtempo also throws in classy guitar licks and chord progressions for good measure. Along with the evocative textures and FX, you pretty much have everything you need to put together professional-sounding tracks.
Freddie Joachim – Jazz Hop Classics
Jazz and hip-hop have more than a few characteristics in common, and their sounds have often converged in numerous interesting ways throughout the years. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in Loopmasters Freddie Joachim – Jazz Hop Classics, which brings together the best of both styles in superb fashion.
Freddie Joachim started out as a DJ during the Golden Age of hip-hop, and progressed to recording and producing early on. A lifelong jazz and soul aficionado, he combines these forms with his love of hip-hop in a heady musical brew that packs quite a potent punch.
With Jazz Hop Classics, Freddie Joachim delivers a stylish and groovy collection of handcrafted beats and rich instrumental sounds. Decidedly old-school in origin, his loops nevertheless have a fresh and inventive character to them that lends themselves to timeless-sounding productions.
Nearly 1.5 GB of content is provided here, consisting of loops, one-shots, and sampler patches. The drums are especially tasty, with the finest examples of hardware and software instruments combined in a varied sonic palette.
Also included are character sounds from the music that Freddie loves the most. From brassy horns to stirring strings, exquisite keys and pianos, and more, Jazz Hop Classics will give your tracks a healthy helping of classic soul flavor.
Hip-hop is one of those forms of music that thrive on authenticity. Unmistakable and nearly impossible to fake, the genuine vibe and feel is what sets professional hip-hop productions apart from the rest. Now, you can get that authentic home-grown flavor with the aptly-named Home Grown sample pack.
All the sounds in this collection have been painstakingly gathered and lovingly processed for maximum authenticity. The work of noted hip-hop production team Raw Cuts, these loops and samples hearken back to the soulful past while keeping a pulse on the future. The result is a diverse range of sounds that will make any listener sit up and take notice.
The Raw Cutz crew has exerted considerable effort in ensuring that all sonic bases are covered. Home Grown features everything from relentlessly grooving beats to bowel-churning basses, and more. There is even an extensive selection of piano and Rhodes samples that inject deliciously soulful elements into your sessions. Rounding it out are soaring strings that would work just as well in more lush and cinematic productions.
The Home Grown selection is so rich and varied that it can be used on a variety of styles other than hip-hop. If you are ready to take your tracks to the next level, Home Grown is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get there.
Hip Hop Horns
From Push Button Bang comes Hip Hop Horns. This selection of horn samples should be right at home in hip-hop, R&B, and various other urban styles.
Horns and brasses may not be as popular as they once were, but they still have a place in modern hip-hop productions. Ideally-suited for adding fiery sophistication to bland and lifeless tracks, horn licks and riffs could be just at you need to get the club jumping.
Most every important brass instrument is represented in this sample pack, giving you a good range to choose from. Push Button Bang also made sure to include a variety of playing styles and inflections, which gives the entire collection a more authentic and ear-catching character. From simple hooks to fairly intricate melodic motifs, Hip Hop Horns gives you plenty of feels and moods to work with.
Also included are staccato stabs that are essential for more upbeat music. There are even convincing brass and saxophone solos that greatly expand the usability of the selection.
Although much of the content is firmly-focused on horns, you also get a decent selection of drum beats, guitar accompaniments, mixed instruments, and special effects. Even with all this added content, Hip Hop Horns isn’t likely to replace all your other sample collections. But it’s good to know that other instrumental sounds are there when you need them.
“Crate-digging” refers to the time-honored practice of browsing through crates and crates of records looking for that one perfect sample to drop in a session. Inextricably tied in with hip-hop culture, the spirit of crate digging is alive and well in Raw Cutz Crate Digger.
The good news is that you no longer have to go through all that trouble just to infuse some old-school soul into your tracks. Crate Digger brings together a fine assortment of samples that positively ooze with that unmistakable vinyl vibe. Whether you are an upcoming producer looking for a quick way to add authenticity to your tracks or a veteran of the crate-digging era, you will definitely appreciate the convenience that Crate Digger provides.
Raw Cutz is of course known for some of the finest sample packs around. The immensely talented production team has left its imprint on several notable releases over the past few years, and Crate Digger is no exception.
What you get for the money is an assortment of beats, basses, chords, stabs, hits, and more. All recorded for maximum sonic impact, they have an endearingly deep and dusty character that vinyl diehards know only too well.
The Nextmen Hip Hop and Electronica
Cambridge in England doesn’t exactly seem like a hotbed for hip-hop, a form which has its roots firmly planted in America. Nevertheless, some of the most creative forces in hip-hop actually come from Merrie Olde England. This partly explains the excellent Hip Hop and Electronica sample pack from Cambridge’s own The Nextmen.
The Nextmen have made quite a name for themselves with their string of bumping mixtapes and barnstorming festival appearances. The relentlessly groovy approach of Brad Baloo and Dom Search is exactly the stuff that modern hip-hop is made of. With the Hip Hop and Electronica collection, you can get the duo’s distinctive sonic signature in your own tracks.
Just like The Nextmen’s productions, the Hip Hop and Electronica sample pack covers a varied and eclectic ground. Hip-hop may be the primary flavor, but many of the sounds could easily be employed in soul, dance, and even reggae productions.
As expected, drum and bass loops make up the bulk of the collection. Also included are individual bass notes and bass pads, all of which nicely fill out the bottom end. With scratches, music loops, and over a hundred other instrument sounds, Hip Hop and Electronica pretty much as you covered for any club-oriented style.
Flip The Script – Hip Hop Vs Trap
Flip The Script – Hip Hop vs Trap is a ruff-and-ready collection of stylish urban sounds inspired by the leading proponents of modern hip-hop. Any one of these hundreds of royalty-free sounds would fit right into a Drake or Diskord production, and they will certainly give your tracks that distinctive trap flavor.
Trap is one of the most exciting developments in urban music in recent years. Loopmasters once again exhibits its knack for pushing the envelope, with this stunning sample pack that bridges the divide between classic hip-hop and 21st century trap stylings.
Weighing in at a very respectable 1.24 GB, Flip The Script comes with a vast assortment of loops, one-shots, and sample patches that can be dropped into your DAW of choice. Also included are midi files that give you even more creative options, whether you stick with the bundled content or use your own trusty sampler fodder.
Various types of drums are provided of course, with kicks, snares, percussions, and tops making up the beats category. There are also melodic instruments that are perfect for developing hooks and motifs, along with chords, pads, and arps that will bring all the elements of your song together.