Today I’m doing something a little different in that I am doing a review on a book.
Amir SA’ID is now on the 5th edition of this hop hop beat making manual.
When it first shipped, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew I had heard about it before.
Once I got it, the first thing I noticed was that it was HUGE! I’ve had it for a few months, but wanted to really get in and read it thoroughly before giving you a proper review on it. Now that I have read it, let’s get into it!
What is the BeatTips Manual?
At the core it is a producers love for the art, history, and technique of beat making.
The manual starts with a few chapters on the history of Hip Hop as an art form, why and how it started, then goes through the process of the first beatmakers, the djs, on up to beat making as a skill and art.
This thing really could be the book for a college course or something, it’s very thorough and I learned many things I never knew.
Especially about the environment that birthed the Hip Hop culture, not just the cliche stuff you hear, but actual background info on the social and political climates from which this culture was born.
After that you get into the various eras of hip hop beat making….
Complete with a nice and thorough chart going from sample based up to keyboard and computer based, documenting and explaining the tools of the various styles of production.
He broke it down into 7 large periods which include:
- the break beat period
- the studio band period
- the electronic drum machine period
- pioneers/avant garde period
- post pioneers period
- southern bounce period
- retro eclectic period
Within each period and between periods he documents the styles, major players, gear, techniques, and sound that was prominent during that era. This is not a “skim the top” type of book, you really get a lot of detail and Amir is an amazing writer who you can tell really has a passion for this artform.
From there you jump into a journey of learning the various types of beat making tools, setups, and what sound each tool is best for. Here he goes deep into what makes each type of tool important, and more importantly why the specific style of music you intend to make should determine your setup, not just what’s new or hot. A strictly sample based style of production will benefit from different specific tools than someone who wants to do a lot of keyboard based music.
In addition to learning about the gear, he also goes into the basic foundations of beat making, laying out the common drum pattern upon which pretty much every type of beat can be derived, covering things like swing, ghost notes, arrangement, song structure, etc. He even covers ways and the importance of laying out samples and sounds that ensures your best workflow.
He has whole a whole chapter dedicated to the art of sampling, explaining the process, the different types of sampling, as well as giving out many tips, tricks, and techniques to better work with your samples. He follows that up with a chapter on the legal side of sampling, the different amendments and laws, copyrights, licensing, etc.
Following that chapter Amir gets deep into the need for regular practice of your craft not only hands on, but reading and consumption of manuals, documentaries, studying various forms of music, studying and learning from other beatmakers, basically anything that can help improve your musical talents, and making it a regular part of your life.
After that, in the next chapter, Amir goes into the study of music tradition, culture, and theory. I mean he gets deep laying out the foundations of music theory like harmony, rhythm, and melody. Getting into things like texture, tone, arpeggios, chords, scales, dynamic…I mean, it’s a serious collection of the basic building blocks for any musical creation. Having it all in one spot is very useful.
Part 4 of the book, which is made up of 3 chapters focuses on the business aspect of beatmaking or producing. Everything from knowing the difference between a beat maker and a producer, to understanding contracts, putting together beat cds, copyrighting your works, shopping beats, and handling the marketing of your product. There are even some sample contracts for you to study and get familiar with.
Knowledge from those deep in the game…
The last part of the book, really could have been a book on it’s own, and will surely be a favorite of many. This is where you get access to the interviews with many top producers, engineers, and beat makers as well as some that are up and coming. So who exactly did Amir Said interview?
- Marly Marl
- D.R. Period
- DJ Toomp
- Steve Sosa
- DJ Premier
- 9th Wonder
My final thoughts on the BeatTips manual 5th edition
This is a great book, it’s thorough, it’s deep, it’s very informative, and it’s a great resource to have by you while working on your craft. Sure there may be some things you know, but also some things you don’t. It’s also entertaining to read, and get other people’s outlook on the craft and creative outlet you love.
I find no faults in this book, and though I’m not a huge book reader, I really loved this one. I consider it a reference manual, like an encyclopedia on making beats! Not just for learning, but for education, entertainment, and enlightenment! You don’t have to read it from start to finish, if you just want to learn or review a few skills, techniques, or just want to be entertained on a specific area, go for it. Just want to read up on some history real quick? Go for it!
The candid interviews are great and will no doubt be something you read multiple times. The sections on business and music theory are really a great addition, even for those that have been making beats for a while. You may not need help in the area of drum programming, or song arrangement, and that’s cool, there are some that do. Any little tip or trick that can help you be creative is worth it in my opinion.
I say if you make beats, or have any interest in making beats/producing, this book is a must have, no questions, period.
429 pages for $29.95
Go check it out at http://beattips.com/ and also read some of his other articles on the site, they are great as well and frequently updated.