In this article, we’ll show you the best plugins suitable for hip hop production in 2022, a few free ones, and the best Kontakt sample libraries for modern hip hop as well.
Hip hop is all around us, and the genre is more competitive than ever. Modern hip-hop producers draw inspiration from all sources, from synthesizers and drum machines to foley, sound effects, and abstract noise textures. So many people create hip hop every day, making it hard to stand out and get noticed.
In a nutshell, here are the best plugins for hip-hop music in 2022:
How do you make hip-hop beats on the computer?
A few tools have always been essential in making hip hop, like samplers, drum machines, and synthesizers, and all of them are still prevalent. The genre finds its routes in sample manipulation. With different techniques such as chopping, looping, and beat juggling, the producer can create new musical phrases from old ones, so a sampler is a must-have.
Sampling can take many different forms; it can mean the isolation of a 4-bar melodic loop from an old soul song, the use of breakbeats, or even the choice of “flipping” a single saxophone note from an old jazz song and sprinkling it over a new beat. Many different plugin software choices exist that help the modern producer achieve this, and we’ll go through the best ones on this list.
Another approach in producing hip-hop music in 2022 would be to manually create every sonic layer yourself, something modern music producers have brought into the hip-hop culture. Once you study the genre and familiarize yourself with some of the recurring themes in sound choice and mixing that exist in the genre, you’ll find that some of the plugins on this list could be just what you need to produce better hip hop beats.
What kind of plugins can I use to make hip hop?
All virtual instruments, synths, drum machines, and effects can help to produce hip hop. Hip hop has its origins in sampling, and sample-based genres are all about breaking the rules and pushing the boundaries of creativity, with unique sound sourcing and constant re-imagination of their core elements.
Having said that, hip hop has always been a drum-and-bass-driven genre, so a lot of the sounds on this list will focus on places for you to locate drum sounds, bass sounds, and the tools to mix them. But being a sampled-based genre, all instruments imaginable have been used in hip hop songs, from saxophones and violins to guitars, bouzouki, or tabla. Therefore, a significant portion of this list is dedicated to guiding you to plugins (free and paid) that will help you recreate these instrumental phrases without the need to sample existing songs and the tedious process of clearing samples (something bedroom producers realistically can’t do.)
Top 12 Plugins For Hip-Hop Producers 2022 (Synth, Pianos, Guitars, String, Drums, Effects)
1. Output Arcade 2.0
Arcade is a sample manipulation synthesizer designed by Output. It manages to be an all-in-one audio powerhouse for the modern hip hop producer, as it can sample, process audio, and function as a synthesizer. It comes in a slick interface, and it’s all about manipulating samples in creative ways to incorporate them into your productions.
Working in a monthly payment model, Arcade offers the user access to an ever-evolving sound library, as each day, new sounds, loops, and samples are added for the subscribed user to work with.
Drip – One of the many instruments that come with Arcade
- Manipulate samples creatively
The keyboard that’s part of Arcades interface has a different loop loaded on each white key, while the black keys let you stretch, resequence, stutter or reverse sounds. There are also different effects, unique to each loop pack, that let you further manipulate the samples. The loops are locked into your session’s key, so you won’t have to worry about time-stretching and matching a loop’s bpm to your song.
- Creative workflow
Arcade is all about ease of use, and it achieves that through its unique workflow. The reason Arcade is one of the most popular plugins for modern hip hop production is the way it makes ideas and arrangements flow almost effortlessly. The user has complete freedom to change and modify each loop included in Arcade to his needs, either through the simple turn of one of the pre-programmed macro knobs or through deep tweaking and modulation through the “tweak” menu.
- Make every sound your own
Arcade is more than just a loop playback device. It enables you to tweak each loop provided as much as you wish to. You can change each loop’s starting point through the resequence mode, chop it up differently, rearrange its sequence or remove a section of the loop. That’s what makes it perfect for the modern hip hop producer; it works remarkably similar to an MPC in a lot of ways. What makes Arcade modern and even more creative, though, is the modulation page, which allows the user to assign two modules to a loop that are either an LFO or a 32-step sequencer. This makes the modulation possibilities endless.
- Spectacular effects
You can set up four different effects on the master bus that will affect your loop or sound. You get to choose between 11 effects, including chorus, compressor, reverb, distortion box, lo-fi effect, and many others. The effects sound spectacular, nothing short of the quality you’d expect from standalone effects units, and offer deep sound manipulation and inspiration.
- Also a synthesizer
Once you choose a note kit, the keyboard will function as a regular keyboard for you to play notes. This makes the Arcade so much more than just a sampler. There are also four macro knobs for modifying the sound. If you click the tweak button, you can access Arcade’s complete synth engine loaded with amp, pitch, and filter envelopes, LFOs, and other synthesis parameters for more control.
- Constantly evolving sound library
Arcade works on a monthly payment basis that gives you access to its sound library, which includes tons of presets, samples, and loops. The best thing is that this sound library is constantly evolving, with new sounds being added every day.
Arcade 2.0 is available on Windows 8 and higher, in VST, VST3, and AAX formats, 64-bit, and on Mac OS 10.12 and higher in AU, VST, VST3, and AAX formats, 64-bit.
Arcade is the perfect blend of past and future for hip hop production. It can be a tool for the sample-based producer and a synthesizer for the modern producer who wants to design his sounds. The user-friendly interface, which is comprehensive and easy to use, and access to a powerful sound library make Arcade a potent music production tool.
2. Thenatan TAPE PIANO 2
Tape piano 2 is a lo-fi piano/keys VST plugin designed by Thenatan. It promises producers a tool that will help them recapture the vintage piano sounds of the past while also adding new and modern features to help it fit in the competitive current music production market.
Equipped with multiple effects, filter modes, five-layer engines, and features that provide pitch modulation for lo-fi aesthetics, tape piano 2 can achieve a wide variety of sounds.
- Multi-layer architecture
Tape piano 2 lets you layer five different sounds with your primary keys sound. The multi-layer architecture enables you to layer multiple sounds simultaneously, and the sounds provided are mostly textures or pads. Great for adding interest and movement to your pianos. As if that’s not enough, the texture layer is receptive to samples, so you can drag and drop any sound you wish to use on it.
- Effects to inspire
There are ten different effects on tape piano 2, and they are all assignable as modulation targets, which makes it a powerful synthesis and performance choice. Anything from lush reverbs to surgical EQ can be found here, and the additional two filters, each equipped with ten modes, create a range of sound possibilities.
- Scratch designer
Scratch designer is a unique and very well-thought-out feature of tape piano 2. It lets you design realistic vinyl scratches and layer them to your piano sound. They can be as intricate or as simple as you want them to be.
- Extensive preset library
Over 200 presets are included. The preset menu is designed excellently in a category-based system, making locating and loading samples easy and time-saving.
- Vintage sound
Due to the pitch modulation features, vinyl scratch designer, textural-layering possibilities, and effects, tape piano 2 offers accurate vintage sound for producers to explore and implement in their modern music productions.
Tape piano 2 is available on Windows 7 and higher in VST, and VST3 formats, 32/64-bit, and on Mac OS X 10.9.5 and higher, in AU, VST, and VST3 formats, 64-bit.
Tape piano 2 is an excellent plugin for the producer who wishes to compose and create original sound layers that have an old-school feel. The scratch engine is a unique touch, the five sound layer engines provide a wide range of sonic possibilities, and the effects and filters make this plugin a strong synthesis choice for the modern hip hop producer.
3. UJAM Beatmaker DOPE 2
Beatmaker DOPE 2 is a plugin by UJAM that works as a drum machine. A drum machine is the most accurate term I could come up with, but this thing is capable of more than just that.
It comes equipped with ten different kits, exploring 50 different styles, adding up to 1180 rhythmical phrases to explore and play with. It mainly focuses on underground hip hop music, with boom bap-centric drum sounds and patterns being the most prominent.
- Go old-school
DOPE 2 comes equipped with an extensive library of sounds that mostly explore boom-bap. Everything about this plugin, from the feel and groove of the loops to the vinyl textures and noises, screams 90’s. So if this is the mood you wish to convey with your music, DOPE 2 is excellent at that.
- Drag midi
A helpful feature of DOPE 2 is the midi drag function. A midi clip will be created by dragging and dropping one of the right keyboard keys of the interface to your DAW. This means that each keyboard key on the right-hand side of the interface is loaded with its pattern that you can access by midi. This is great because you can then load your sounds and play that midi or study how different grooves work.
- Vinyl drive
Vinyl drive is a special control knob included in DOPE 2. It simulates retro turntable noise and applies compression to make your drums feel dirtier and punchier. It’s the perfect feature for getting that gritty and gnarly sound from the golden era of classic hip hop records.
- Customize your drum kit
Beatmaker DOPE 2 lets you customize the sound of each drum source and the master bus. You get four different macro knobs to polish and bring your drums to a mix-ready state. The sweep control engages both lowpass and highpass filters to shape the tone of your drums, while the saturate knob gently distorts and colors the sound and can offer anything from smooth lo-fi drums to crushing distortion. The maximize control works as a maximizer and gives life to your drums, while the ambience control introduces realistic spatial reverb for a more pronounced sense of space.
Beatmaker DOPE 2 is available on Windows 8 or higher, in VST2 and AAX formats, and on Mac OS 10.12 or higher, in VST2, AU, and AAX formats, as well as AU2 format compatible with Logic X.
Beatmaker DOPE 2 is a strong choice for the modern hip hop producer who aims towards the vintage, dirty feel of 90’s hip hop drum sounds without needing to go through stacks of records on vinyl to achieve that. The midi drag function is handy, and the wide range of rhythmical loops ensure to inspire and get you out of your beat block. Finally, the straightforward interface makes DOPE 2 an ideal choice for beginners and experienced producers.
4. Slate Digital Murda Melodies
Murda Melodies is a multi-effects processor designed by hip hop producer Murda Beats in collaboration with Slate Digital and promises to help you transform melodies, samples, and musical phrases into unique, new ones effortlessly.
Murda Beats is one of the most popular and influential hip hop producers of this generation, so, naturally, his plugin is all about helping producers achieve the sound of today’s hip hop and trap music in an easy and fun way while also staying creative and providing enough space for you to find your own voice and sound as a producer.
- Eight effects
Being a multi-effects processor, Murda melodies naturally comes with many effects, including reverb, delay, saturation, rhythmic modulation, chorus, and a couple of other knobs that combine multiple effects to achieve different vibes. The effects all come with a single knob that adjusts the intensity, so there’s not much adjusting or shaping to be done here, something that makes this an easy and quick creative solution to multiple production problems.
- Wobble and pitch shifting
The wobble fader at the bottom of the interface emulates a tape WOW effect, something that can offer a lo-fi character to any sound, and there’s also a pitch shifter that lets you transpose the sound of your choice up to +/- 2 octaves.
- Inspiring presets made by Murda
Murda melodies comes with 50 factory presets designed by Murda Beats and Slate Digital’s sound engineers. The presets showcase this plugin’s full range of possibilities and serve as a great source of inspiration and a starting point for new users to grasp what this plugin exactly does and how it works.
- Polish the sound
The spread knob and lowpass and highpass filters are the cherries on top. They are the last “control points” inside this plugin and help you polish the sound. The spread knob increases or decreases stereo width, while the filters enable you to eliminate any extra low or high frequencies that the other effects introduced to your mix. For example, use the pitch shifter to increase the pitch of a vocal sample to get a Kanye-esque “chipmunk soul” sound. Then, use the lowpass filter to remove the high-frequency artifacts introduced, giving you this classic 00s sound.
Murda melodies comes on Windows and Mac in AAX, VST, and AU formats and requires iLok for authorization.
Murda Melodies is a simple tool to add interest and movement to your productions. The effects sound great and, while more parameters would be welcomed, their one knob intensity workflow helps make quick and fun creative decisions while producing—a great creative tool for the modern hip hop producer.
5. Waves Retro Fi
Retro Fi is a lo-fi effects chain designed by Waves. Its main aim is to provide quality effects that will alter and shape your sounds to emulate tape, cassette, and vinyl sounds and aesthetics.
Retro Fi comes with 250 presets, carefully designed by engineers working for some of hip hop’s most prominent artists, including Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, and Dr. Dre.
- Add life to your sounds
Designed to be used on any sound, from keys to drums or even vocals, Retro Fi’s central device is an analog coloring and tonal shaper. It also includes a squasher and compressor. You can cater to a specific era by choosing a decade and adjusting the effect’s tone.
- Add space
The space section comes with a saturated echo and a reverb that comes with spring or plate options—the perfect tools for adding space or creating trippy effects on any sound.
- Noise from the past
The noise section lets you choose from a library equipped with 60 different textures to layer with your sound. The difference of Retro Fi from other vintage noise emulators lies in its smart noise generation algorithm, which ensures the noise texture will always keep changing, never repeating itself.
- Smart design for realistic effects
Retro Fi is not just a simple multi-effects processor. Every parameter you add doesn’t just layer one effect on top of another; it also changes how the other sections color the sound. The effects are designed serially but are internally routed, making this plugin act as a living analog machine.
- Vintage and unique sound
Due to all of the features above, Retro Fi can bring you accurate, analog, and vintage sound. The way the effects are routed, though, and the addition of a ringer and a squasher make this effects unit capable of some seriously unexpected and outside-the-box sounds too. Get anything from warm, noisy sounds to heavily modulated trippy effects.
Retro Fi is available on Windows 10 and higher, in AAX, VST, VST3, and Audiosuite formats, 64-bit, and on Mac OS 10.14.6 and higher, in AU, AAX, VST3, VST, and Audiosuite.
Retro Fi is a unique vintage emulator effects unit that adds randomness and liveliness to any sound. Its smart noise algorithm and internal routing architecture make it feel genuinely analog, and it’s perfect for the producer wishing to aim towards a vintage sound while also achieving some unexpected and unique sound design effects.
6. NI Kontakt 6
Native instrument’s Kontakt is a sampler and needs no introduction to anyone involved in the audio industry; it’s the industry standard sampler. Its main pulling point is the unparalleled control it provides the user over the available samples and a vast sample library and instruments developed especially to be loaded in Kontakt.
Producers of most genres use Kontakt, and, naturally, sample-based genres like hip hop could use a lot more of it. With traditional and unique sampling capabilities, a wide range of effects, and an in-depth engine for processing and sculpting samples into fresh creations, Kontakt is perfect for hip hop.
- Unlimited inspiration
Kontakt comes in a free version as a “player” with a 600 MB sample library. Kontakt 6, the full version, comes with an upgraded library of over 55 GB of samples, instruments, and sounds, all designed to cover multiple genres and inspire any music producer to create. You can find orchestral and real instruments sampled in high quality across various instruments, replications of classic vintage synths, and unique, modern instruments for experimental sounds and textures.
- Load your own sounds
Aside from access to the huge sample library, Kontakt enables you to load your sounds into an instrument’s interface to manipulate them. For instance, you can load a kick drum into any compatible Kontakt instrument interface and hear it played back in the manner that instrument was designed; If you load it into “Straylight” you will get granulated textures.
- More than just a sampler
Kontakt is like a real-world instrument. It can do anything, from providing real sampled orchestral instruments to enabling deep sound design processing to transform any sound into textures or unrecognizable new sonic layers. The more time and effort you put into it, the more it’ll give back to you.
Kontakt 6 is available on Windows 7 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, and Standalone versions, 64-bit only, and on Mac OS 10.13 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, AU, and Standalone, 64-bit only.
For a sample-based genre like hip hop, the need for a powerful sampler can’t be overstated. Kontakt can be the modern hip hop producer’s sampler to cover most of his music production needs. It can be a sampler, provide real instrument layers, fill up space with granular textures and noises, or work as a vintage synthesizer. Finally, its simple interface and comprehensive set of sound sculpting tools can appeal to producers of all levels and experiences.
7. Slate Digital MO-TT
MO-TT is a clone of the iconic OTT preset from Ableton’s multiband compressor, and it’s essentially a multiband downwards and upwards compressor. MO-TT stands for “More than just OTT,” and it aims to provide the classic OTT sound but packaged in a more accessible and comprehensive interface that’s accessible to all DAWs.
To explain how this effect affects the sound, we need to understand the terms mentioned above. A multiband compressor splits the signal into different frequency bands and compresses them differently. The downwards and upwards term refers to the fact that, unlike a traditional compressor that only turns down the loud peaks of a sound, it also turns up the quiet parts. The user gets two threshold controls with each frequency band, one for each compression stage.
It’s simply louder, brighter, better.
- Deep bass or bright highs
MO-TT can deliver the classic OTT sound and provide earth-shaking bass or crisp high frequencies. Its three modes, OTT, hip hop, and VOX, let you navigate its wide range of sonic possibilities. Each mode works differently and offers a different sonic character to your sound. OTT sounds like a classic Ableton effect, hip hop focuses more on your low-end (which is genre-appropriate), and VOX is meant to be used on vocals since it offers the high-frequency shine and air they need to cut through the mix.
- Deep control
You can now solo each frequency band, set individual attack and release times, and ratio and amount, giving you control over how you shape each sound this plugin goes on. If you push hard, you can achieve distortion but also completely squash your transients, so be careful with how far you push.
- Ease of use
Sure, you could get the same effect by using two different compressors and splitting your signal into three using different EQs. But the magic of MO-TT is that you effectively get the effect done with only one plugin. There are many presets included, split into different categories, such as Master, Drums, Vocals, and FX, which make MO-TT an excellent choice for a beginner producer trying to learn compression and understand how different settings affect different sounds.
- Go in-depth
MO-TT comes with an advanced view meant for those who wish to tweak the plugin even more. It offers controls not included in the basic view, such as global and per-band controls for input level and threshold faders for both compression stages, while the metering is way more detailed. There’s also a global filter slope control, which can drastically alter the sound since different slope values mean more overlap and frequencies between each band, resulting in a different sound. Finally, there are also sidechain controls for external or internal sidechain and attack and release controls. The advanced view takes MO-TT to the next level and makes it a powerful tool in the hands of producers who are experienced and familiar with compressors of this kind.
MO-TT is available on Windows and Mac OS, 64-bit only, in VST, AAX, and AU formats.
MO-TT is a mixing tool that, if used wisely, can achieve loud, crisp, and deep low end on any song or sound. It can be a handy tool in the hands of beginner producers and a powerful weapon in the hands of experienced ones who can take advantage of the advanced view. The Hip Hop mode tends to emphasize the low end, which makes sense and will cater to most modern hip hop producers who wish to achieve loud and energetic beats. Whichever applies to you reading this list, MO-TT can indeed offer you a different approach to big, loud, and polished hip hop beats.
8. Future Audio Workshop SubLab
SubLab is a plugin designed specifically for crafting sub-bass sounds. It’s a hybrid synth, meaning it’s split into two sections: one where the user uploads samples and one where he designs the synth sound through the synth and sub-bass modules.
SubBass is catered towards hip hop, trap, and future bass producers since its main aim is to design thick 808s that will fill your low frequencies. SubLab comes with a revolutionary technology called X-sub, which ensures the integrity of your sub-bass no matter which playback system you play your song on.
- Sound engines
SubLab works differently from other synths on this list. It’s a hybrid synth and includes three distinct sound engines. The first one is named synth, and it’s a single oscillator with a filter, four waveshapes, amp, pitch, and filter envelopes. This is where you can shape the tone of your bass sound. The oscillator is very flexible due to its three distinct envelopes and rich waveforms. The second engine is a sampler. You can drag and drop any sound you wish to layer with the main synth engine. For example, add a kick, and you can create a punchy 808 or add an ambient texture for some unique sound design.
The third sound engine is titled X-sub, where SubLab truly shines. This is a new technology that guarantees your sub’s integrity. If you play a higher bass note, X-sub will calculate the lower harmonic frequency and boost it (or generate it from scratch) so that your sub is felt on all tones and speakers. A truly great feature.
The two effects SubLab offers are vital to the sound design process. The first one is a compressor. It helps glue the three engines together and create a cohesive sound. It also has a useful sidechain feature to help you sidechain the synth engine to the sample engine. It’s especially crucial if you load a kick drum in the sampler and you wish to duck the volume of the synth engine to avoid low frequencies from clashing. The second effect is distortion. It pleasantly colors the sound and adds harmonic content to hear your bass on all playback devices. There’s also a built-in filter that helps shape the tone with extreme accuracy.
- Polishing tools
SubLab includes a maximizer and a stereo width control. These are the final steps on the signal chain and help polish the sub and make it mix-ready. The maximizer thickens the sound, and the stereo unit will widen it. This results in bass sounds that fill the frequency spectrum and stereo spectrum while also being impactful and effective.
SubLab is available on Windows 7 and higher, and macOS 10.10 and higher, in VST2, VST3, AU, and AAX formats, 64-bit only.
Hip hop has always been a bass-heavy genre, and the culture of boom boxes and expensive custom-made car speakers was all about showing off who can pull off the deepest, lowest bass. SubLab is perfect for hip hop since it can achieve earth-shaking sub-bass. The X-sub technology is particularly useful at this, while the multiple synth engines provide enough sound design flexibility to add complexity and interest to your bass patches.
9. Ample Sound – Ample Guitar Martin
Ample guitar martin is a virtual acoustic guitar plugin by Ample sound. It’s a recreation of the Martin D-41 Acoustic Guitar and aims to bring you the sound of the original guitar in your studio in an authentic way.
Hip hop producers have depended on sampling to include guitar tones in their productions, and unless you could play the guitar or knew somebody who could, you didn’t get one in your song. This plugin makes sure that even someone who has no guitar playing experience can achieve an organic acoustic guitar performance in their beat.
- Realistic sound
With modes that let you play legato, various finger-picking styles, or string slides, Ample Guitar Martin can offer humanized and organic guitar loops or performances. You can go in-depth and tweak the two body and ambiance mics for different sounds or the double knob for customizable guitar doubles with broader sound.
The Strummer panel lets you program and trigger various strum patterns. It can also be played on the lower half of your midi keyboard, while the rest of the keyboard triggers individual notes.
This is a wild feature included in Ample Guitar Martin, and it lets you compose riffs or generate random ones for you to tweak or get inspired by. A dice control enables you to choose a scale or chord mode and then generates new riffs for you. They always sound great and work musically within your beat since you select the key and chord mode. If you find one you like, you can sample it and flip it in your beat.
Ample Guitar Martin is available on Windows 7 and higher, and Mac OS 10.9 and higher, 64-bit only, in VST, VST3, AU, AAX, and Standalone formats.
Ample Guitar Martin is an excellent choice for producers with no access to a real acoustic guitar that still wants to use original guitar compositions in their beats. The various controls let you dig deep and craft beautiful guitar tones, and the Strummer and Riffer can inspire producers with their endless compositional capabilities.
10. UJAM Symphonic Elements STRIIIINGS
Striiiings is a plugin by UJAM that focuses on orchestral strings creation.
Unlike other string libraries, Striiiings can play multiple layers at once, saving you the trouble of mixing individual string tracks, as well as the CPU usage of having four instances of the same plugin running at the same time.
While it’s developed for composers to use for movie scores and film trailers, Striiiings can add an exciting layer of dramaticism and playfulness to modern hip hop beats. There’s an unspoken and rarely mentioned connection between hip hop and classical music within hip hop’s rich history; from Xzibit sampling Pavane on “Paparazzi” in 1996 to Nas’s “Hate me now” sampling “O Fortuna” in 1999, strings helped emphasize drama, emotion, anger and frustration throughout hip hop’s history. If you can’t clear a Pavane sample (and you probably can’t), plugins like Striiiings can do the work.
- Multiple layers for rich sound
Striiiings is split into low and high strings sections, where you can shape the tone and decay of low frequency based instruments like double bass and high-frequency violin and viola layers. You can also crossfade between the two in case you wish to emphasize more on one than the other. This feature showcases exactly what Striiiings is all about: challenging the way strings are played on virtual instruments and creating thick, full layers of strings that blur the line between real and synthesized.
- Variety of playing styles
The lower portion of the user interface hosts the performance controls, which allows you to choose from the 60 available performance styles and the virtual keyboard to perform your strings. Once you select a performance style, you can select a phrase included in your chosen style through the zone mapped on the keyboard’s left side, trigger chords through the right-side zone, and specify alternate bass notes through the central zone. The way the keyboard is split makes this instrument extraordinarily playable and interactive, and the different performance styles offer unlimited inspiration; even if you’ve never tried string arrangement before, you can get amazing results by playing around with Striiiings.
- Stay in the key
If you are not a classically trained composer, Striiiings makes it easy for you. The key control at the lower right makes sure you’ll stay in key if you play the wrong note. This feature is handy for producers who want to quickly create string layers without worrying about the music theory aspect of production. Also, the key control will fit all the phrases included in Striiiings to the scale you set, providing so inspiration on the fly.
- More than just strings
The middle section in Striiiing’s interface is called the Finisher, and it’s a one-knob effects processor. Choose between unique and tastefully designed effects like the “broken capacitator” to achieve trailer-like loud stabs or “voodoo glitchcraft” for electronic glitches that tear the sound apart. These effects are some of the most creative and unique you will find in any virtual instrument or effects processor. They can provide unique flavors and aesthetics to your hip hop beats and also help you shape your own distinct sound.
Striiiings is available on Windows 8 or higher, and OS X 10.11 / macOS 10.12 or later, in VST2, AU2, and AAX formats, 64-bit only.
Hip hop has always used strings to add tension and emphasize the emotional journey the rapper is taking us on. If you are a young producer that can’t clear a strings sample from a previous recording, then a plugin like Striiiings could help you out in many ways. The multi-layer interface makes it easy to open one instance of Striiiings and have a complete strings session in your beat, while the effects processor can create some unique, tasteful sounds to set you apart from the rest. After all, that is one of the most significant selling points of Striiiings, its ability to inspire and create string sections even for the non-classically trained creatives while also pushing the limits of what a string sound can be.
11. G-Sonique Swede
G-Sonique’s Swede Trap Bass plugin is a synthesizer designed mainly for creating thumping kicks and fat basslines suitable for Trap / Hip-Hop.
The plugin is a collaboration between Swede, a renowned hip-hop producer, and G-Sonique, a highly experienced plugin developer. The Swede Trap Bass plugin takes inspiration from hardware drum boxes by merging analog-style filters and oscillators with vintage-style exponential envelopes.
The plugin consists of 20 oscillator types, eight filters, waveshaping controls, parametric saturation, analog-style distortion, and more.
- Fat bass
Trap Bass is all about that bass. It promises thick, full-body bass sounds, and it does deliver. The 20 different oscillator choices can achieve almost any bass sound, from warm and round bass tones to distorted, gritty 808s.
- In-the-box 808s
Trap Bass was created in order to help you design the 808 you need without the need for any post-processing and sound polishing. Everything you need to design a mix-ready 808 is inside Trap Bass, from oscillators and envelopes to distortion and saturation controls.
The parametric saturation section offers four different control knobs to shape and color your bass through harmonic distortion. An additional knob named ‘analog distortion circuit gain’ can add extra thickness to your bass sounds.
- Multiple envelope choices
Trap Bass is different than traditional synth plugins in that it comes equipped with three different envelopes, all with their predetermined targets. There’s an amp envelope, a filter envelope, and, of course, a pitch envelope, perfect for adding punch to 808-like bass sounds or for some wild pitch modulation effects. The oscillators are analog-modeled and provide warm and round sounds, while the envelopes are modeled after vintage-style exponential envelopes after real hardware drum boxes. All these details make Trap Bass the ideal synth for modern hip hop producers.
Swede Trap Bass is available for Windows 7 or higher, 64-bit only. It comes in VST and VST3 formats.
Swede Trap Bass knows exactly what it is and for who it’s made for. As the name suggests, the plugin inspired by 808 Mafia’s “Swede” is ideal for anyone who produces bass-heavy music, including hip hop and trap. The oscillators, filters, and envelopes are analog/vintage modeled, which offer warm and full bass sounds, while the saturation and distortion circuit controls can bring dirt and grit to your sounds. If 808-based hip hop is your thing, this is the plugin for you.
12. Cradle Audio – The Prince by Frank Dukes
The Prince by Frank Dukes is a sampled-based synth plugin. It differs from others of its category simply because of the tasteful selection of sounds included in its presets library. The sounds are hand-selected by Frank Dukes himself from his personal studio and are meant to be expressive, warm, and reminiscent of Dukes’ style and past discography.
Having produced records for some of the most prominent artists on the planet, including The Weekend, Drake, Frank Ocean, and James Blake, to name a few, Frank Dukes’ signature instrument is perfect for hip hop production.
- Eclectic sounds
The presets library is extensive, and every sample caters to Dukes’ eclectic taste. There are no vanilla sounds here; everything is meant to inspire a certain mood and create a specific atmosphere that will eventually shape an original song. After all, the eclectic selection of sounds is the biggest selling point of The Prince.
- Concise controls
The Prince includes amp and filter envelopes, one LFO, and glide controls. The control parameters are a few, which might be limiting your sound design options, but if you consider what The Prince is really about, they are plenty to transform the presets into your signature sounds.
- Warm effects
The bottom grey panel in The Prince’s interface is dedicated to its five effects: noise, distortion, reverb, delay, and chorus. The effects are all about providing you with the vintage, warm, underwater-like sound that Frank Dukes is known for. In other words, there may only be five of them, but all of them contribute and complement The Prince’s unique sound.
- Unlimited sonic combinations
The Prince comes loaded with over 250 factory presets, all curated and created by Frank Dukes himself. They are split into six categories: pads, brass, plucks, keys, organs, and leads, and the way they are organized makes the library intuitive and well organized. In addition to this, the plugin comes with over 130 samples that serve as the sound sources, all originating from various vintage synths. The fact that each sound you create works in an A/B layering system provides for unlimited combinations between the 130+ samples included.
The Prince by Frank Dukes is available on Windows 10 and higher, and Mac OS 10.14 and higher, in VST, VST3, and AU formats, 64-bit.
The Prince by Frank Dukes is not an ordinary instrument; it’s all about waking up your creativity and providing you with eclectic sounds to produce music with. The concise controls make sure amateur producers won’t be discouraged to tweak and play with this synth, while the refreshing selection of sounds provided will tempt seasoned pros to try it.
11 Best Free Plugins For Hip-Hop Producers 2022
1. u-he Triple Cheese
Triple Cheese is a free synthesizer designed by u-he. It avoids classic synthesis techniques and offers a new way of synthesis, where its three oscillators are comb filters used to generate and layer sounds.
Comb filters are very short, chromatically tuned delays. These delays cause constructive and destructive interference to the original signal. Triple Cheese uses them to create unusual sounds that add taste and flavor to hip hop beats.
- Unique, retro sound
u-he jokes that Triple Cheese can sound cheesy and very reminiscent of 80’s digital synths, hence why they named it this way. But if the parameters of this synth are pushed far enough, it can offer some unique and, at times, organic sounds.
- Delay-based effects engine
The effects included in Triple Cheese are all delay-based and aim to add more flavor and space to your sounds. There’s, of course, delay, but also flanger, chorus, phaser, and reverb.
- Deep modulation capability
Many of the key parameters in Triple Cheese can be modulated, either through the LFO, envelopes, and Vibrator or performance controls such as the mod wheel, pressure, and velocity, making it a very expressive synthesizer.
Triple Cheese is available on Linux, Windows 7, and higher (32/64-bit) and Mac OS 10.9 and higher (64-bit only) in AU2, VST2, VST3, and AAX formats.
Triple Cheese is a unique synthesizer by u-he that produces unique sounds with comb filter oscillators. The effects and controls provide many sound design options, while mappable velocity and pressure controls make it a very expressive and organic-sounding synth. If you are a hip hop producer looking for a unique synth that’s also free, then look no further.
2. Echo Sound Works Vinyl Guitar
Vinyl Guitar is a character guitar plugin by Echo Sound Works. The sounds of this instrument are sampled guitar notes played through an actual vinyl record player, providing a lo-fi character to this plugin.
Instead of having to sample songs on vinyl to get lo-fi guitar sounds in your hip hop beats, Vinyl Guitar does the sampling for you, letting you worry only about the music.
- Lo-fi sound
This instrument’s guitar notes come from an actual record player, which gives the sound the classic warped and fluttered sound of lo-fi. Using Vinyl Guitar saves you from doing a bunch of processing on a real guitar to “fake” that lo-fi sound.
- Make it realistic
Vinyl Guitar comes with fret noise, pick noise, and string buzz knobs; all meant to add more character and organic feel to the sound of this plugin.
Vinyl Guitar is available on Windows and Mac OS, 64-bit only, in AU and VST3 formats.
Vinyl Guitar is a free choice for anyone after lo-fi guitar sounds. The plugin sounds great and unpredictable at times due to the warp and flutter effects. The added playability noise knobs are a tasteful extra touch of control that provides more character and make this plugin an excellent choice for all hip hop producers.
3. Monsterdaw Monsterbass
Monsterbass is a free plugin that aims to design bass sounds for all genres. It’s a ROMpler, meaning a simple sampler with a limited amount of controls for basic sound sculpting.
Modern hip hop utilizes all sorts of sounds to cover the bass frequencies, making Monsterdaw a great hip hop production tool. This free plugin includes 25 presets that can be tweaked to create bass sounds of all kinds.
- Multiple bass styles
Monsterbass is all about the bass. And not just synth bass, but also electric bass, acoustic bass, and more to be announced soon. Each of the sounds included offers a different feel and tone, and they can all be used to create hip hop beats. The sound is rich and full and, most importantly, functional. Monsterbass offers sounds that instantly inspire songs and beats.
- Basic sound sculpting
Since it’s a ROMpler, Monsterbass includes limited controls for sound sculpting. You can access an ADSR envelope for volume, a filter section with basic shapes, an LFO that can be mapped to parameters like pitch and volume, and voice modes. These are enough to help you alter the 25 presets and create drastically different bass sounds.
- Functional effects
Finally, Monsterbass includes effects like saturation and reverb. They work as master effects since they affect the sound at its final stage. The saturation is labeled as gain and can significantly drive and color the sound, while the reverb offers a simple knob to add space to the sound.
Monsterbass is available on Windows, 32/64-bit in VST format, and Mac OS in VST and AU formats.
Monsterbass is an easy-to-use and inspiring free bass plugin. It’s a ROMpler, so don’t expect the flexibility you’d find in big synth plugins. The presets cover a variety of styles and tones, and the controls included are enough to help alter and modify the core sounds—an ideal choice for beginners looking to get started.
4. Cymatics Origin
Origin is a vintage/lo-fi plugin that emulates tape machines and offers your productions a vintage character. It was built based on vintage gear and can add different kinds of noise to your sounds, chorus, saturation or flutter, and wow effects.
- True vintage sound
Origin’s engineers studied an array of vintage tape machines to offer authentic analog sound. The saturation knob offers emulated tape saturation to add a warm tone to your sounds, while the vinyl knob adds noise. The movement knob adds flutter and wow effects based on a randomized algorithm for unpredictable pitch modulation. Finally, you get an emulation of the iconic Juno 106 chorus.
- Resample for underwater effects
The Resampler engine is the centerpiece of this plugin. It changes the sample rate of the incoming signal in real-time, something that usually would create artifacts, meaning frequencies that, in most cases, are undesirable and can compromise your mix’s integrity. Origin’s special filters built inside the Resampler engine remove these artifacts, giving you a unique lowpass sound that’s chromatically different than just a regular lowpass filter.
Origin is available on Windows and Mac OS, 64-bit only in VST, AU, and AAX formats.
Origin is a strong audio effect plugin that provides authentic, vintage sound to your productions. The underwater effects you get from the Resampler engine are not much different than the ones 40, Drake’s producer, is known for. The fact that they could be yours for free makes this plugin a no-brainer.
5. Fruitymasterz Hercules V2
Hercules V2 is a virtual analog synth designed by Fruitymasterz, and it’s an upgraded version of the original Hercules. Its simple and intuitive interface makes it the perfect choice for producers who are just beginning to learn sound design and synthesis.
- Classic synthesis features
There are two oscillators in Hercules V2, and they come with all the standard waveforms (sawtooth, square, triangle, sine, noise). There’s an amp and pitch envelope, two LFOs, and one filter with its own ADSR. The clean interface makes it easy for beginner synthesis enthusiasts to learn all these parameters and familiarize themselves with modulation techniques and subtractive synthesis.
- Stereo effects
The plugin comes with two effects: chorus and a stereo delay. The effects can be used to widen sounds and easily create supersaws and detuned sounds.
Hercules V2 is available on Windows in VST2 and VST3 formats, 32-bit and 64-bit.
Hercules V2 proves to be a good choice for beginner sound design enthusiasts who wish to get initiated into the synthesis world. All the essential parameters you’d expect from a virtual analog synth are here and packaged in a clean interface.
6. Spitfire Audio LABS
LABS is a series of free software instruments designed by Spitfire audio. They can cover a wide range of instruments and sounds, primarily orchestral, but also experimental, and they are sampled based.
- Simple controls for immediate inspiration
LABS only has a handful of controls in its main interface. This means you don’t get to do much sound sculpting per se, but it also means that there’s less time to overthink and overwork sounds, letting you worry only about the composition.
- Infinite library, unique sound
The library of instruments you can load into LABS is infinite and ever-expanding, with new instruments uploaded often. What’s even better is how good the instruments sound. They do cover the conventional orchestral parts, but tastefully and uniquely. The texture and experimental instruments are some of the most exciting ones out there.
LABS is available on Windows and Mac OS and is compatible with any DAW.
LABS is a great sample library that comes for free without sacrificing audio quality, innovation, or unique character. While it’s designed primarily for orchestral sounds, as we saw above with Striiiings, it can add a lot of flavor, texture, and emotion to any hip hop beat.
8. Ample Sound – Ample Guitar M Lite II
Ample Guitar M Lite II is a free guitar plugin designed by Ample Sound. It aims to bring the sound of a Martin D-41 Acoustic Guitar to your studio in an accurate and easy-to-play way.
- Humanized sound
Ample Guitar M Lite II offers a fairly organic sound, especially considering it’s free. It’s, of course, velocity-sensitive and comes with articulation features to help you play legato, finger-picked, or mute palm, all accessible through the lower octave keys on the keyboard in the main interface.
- Shape your sound
Two microphone faders let you blend between room ambiance and close-up recordings of the guitar, as well as a doubler knob that adds another guitar and can be widened to stereo.
The strummer panel lets you play strums and offers in-depth controls. You can choose a scale and chords, and sequence them with the option of setting up strumming styles and patterns.
Ample Guitar M Lite II is available on Windows 7 and higher, 64-bit only, and on Mac OS 10.9 and higher, in VST2, VST3, AU, and AAX formats, and Standalone host.
Ample Guitar M Lite II offers the clean, studio-quality sound of a recorded Martin D-14 acoustic guitar and does it for free. It sounds relatively organic, and the strummer is an excellent tool for coming up with ideas on the spot, while the various control parameters help you shape the sound in transformative ways.
9. Initial Audio – Initial Clipper
Initial Clipper is a free soft clipper effect by Initial audio.
It prevents the signal from going above zero decibels and clipping by smoothing the audio peaks. A few extra controls set this plugin apart from other soft clippers, as well as a very slick interface with a handy peak display.
- Pleasing, warm sound
A soft clipper is a saturator that colors the sound by rounding off the peaks that push past zero decibels. This means you can get a warm, analog-like sound without sacrificing the character of your original sound.
- Extra saturation
Initial Clipper offers positive and negative saturation knobs, which are harmonic and non-harmonic types of distortion. You can get anything from round bottom-end with warm top-end to crushed sounds with squashed transients.
- LUFS meter
An unusual feature for a soft clipper audio effect is also included, and that’s a LUFS meter. This is particularly handy if you are applying the Initial Clipper on your master chain or if you want to watch how the saturation affects your overall levels.
Initial Clipper is available on Windows and Mac OS, in VST and AU formats, 64-bit.
Initial Clipper is an excellent soft-clipping effect that offers enough extra features to make it a desirable addition to any producer’s DAW. If you are a hip hop producer looking for warm and rich low-end sounds, this is a tool to keep an eye out for.
10. Slate Digital Fresh Air
Fresh Air is a dynamic high-frequency processor designed by Slate Digital. It’s an interesting plugin that’s also hard to describe since it does a few different things to your audio signal simultaneously, but it aims to bring life and clarity to your high frequencies.
Fresh Air works as an equalizer, an exciter, and a dynamic equalizer to brighten and bring shine to your top-end.
- Bright and clean top-end
Fresh Air has two big knobs in its interface called “mid air” and “high air.” You can boost your mid-high frequencies and high frequencies by increasing their values. You can press the link button so that both of them add the same amount of air to your mix. It can be used on vocals to add clarity as well as on drums and even mix buses. The highs rarely get overwhelming, maintaining a pleasing sound for the most part.
Fresh Air is available on Windows and Mac OS in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU formats.
Fresh Air is a useful tool when mixing music, especially if you are dealing with vocals and require something to add excitement and shimmer on your top end. With only two control knobs, it’s a straightforward plugin for anyone to use.
11. iZotope Vinyl
iZotope Vinyl is a free vinyl emulator effect plugin. It’s been around for a while, and its new interface is slicker, with plenty of new features.
Vinyl can offer anything from ‘speaker effects’ through its time capsule section to saturated and warm low-end through the new lo-fi feature. All of this makes it a useful and playful addition to any hip hop producer’s plugin collection.
- Get that vinyl sound
Vinyl simulates dust, scratches, warp, and mechanical noise audible on vinyl records. You can set values to all these parameters inside Vinyl’s interface, as well as add electrical noise. All these noises will break down the digital nature of your tracks and add tasteful textures.
- Lo-fi mode
The new lo-fi mode is meant to alter the tone and timbre of the incoming signal to resemble that of late-80’s hip hop. You get a warmer top-end and a more nostalgic feel.
Vinyl is available on Windows 8-10 and Mac OS 10.13.6 High Sierra – Mac OS 11 Big Sur, in VST2, VST3, AU, and AAX formats.
Vinyl can help you recapture the worn and saturated character of late-80’s hip hop music without having to sample through vinyl records. The added feature of choosing your preferred decade sound is a great treat, and all of the wear, dust, scratch and noise controls can add unpredictable and interesting nuance to your music.
Top 8 Hip-Hop Kontakt Libraries 2022
1. Native Instruments DrumLab
DrumLab offers a simple interface for a fast workflow and never-ending inspiration. It’s an advanced drum layering tool that fits many genres and styles, and it’s perfect for beginners or even advanced producers.
DrumLab is all about making drum layering easy and simple while inspiring users to develop new and original drum pattern ideas. With 60 unique presets, 90 grooves, 80 electronic layers expertly mixed for easy layering, and over 900 drum patterns, DrumLab promises to solve all your drum problems. Beat block who?
An elegant and straightforward interface that offers many cool features for you to explore, such as grooves, kits, and many more that we will cover in key features.
- Hybrid Drum Kit
Inside it, you can find nine variations of kicks, ten variations of snares, seven variations of hats, to name a few. Thirty-eight individual drums were perfectly tuned and performed by top-tier drummer Derico Watson. Kenny Barto, a Grammy-winning producer, was then called in to polish the sounds to a professional finish.
- Drum Layering
Layering drums can be time-consuming and difficult. You have to find the sounds that fit, match their pitches, fix the timing, not to mention the time you have to spend making sure the sounds don’t clash. With DrumLab, layering drums is easy – Pick the sound you want to layer, tune it, and then slide the mix to choose between acoustic and electronic-sounding drums.
- Intuitive interface
The interface is straightforward to use, even for beginners. The number of tabs is not overwhelming, so that you won’t get lost, and everything is well organized. At the bottom, you can find grooves where you selected the exact grove you want your beat to have. Next is an options tab and kit page to find all of the drums and percussive instruments. You can also find unique settings that the user can edit in each tab, such as tune, velocity, and effects tab, including saturation, compression, and many more.
- Small download size
With this list of features, you would expect the download size to be massive, but surprisingly this library comes only with a 2.6Gb download size, making this plugin perfect on lower ends computers without huge disk sizes. Even pro users can benefit from it because you don’t have to install it on an external hard drive, so if you want to travel, that’s one less hard drive you have to carry.
The library is available for Kontakt Player or Kontakt 6.2+, which works on Windows 7 or higher, and macOS 10.13 or higher, 64-bit only. Kontakt comes in VST2, VST3, AU, and AXX formats.
DrumLab is an excellent plugin for both novice and experienced users. It provides a wide variety of drum sounds with many groove variations and presets to choose from. So, if you often work with drums, or you are tired of copying and pasting your old drum patterns, then you’ll find a lot of value in this plugin.
2. Native Instruments Lo-Fi Glow
Lo-Fi Glow is a Kontakt library that offers lo-fi-style sounds. If you like dirty distortion and lo-fi feeling sounds, then look no further; Lo-Fi Glow has all this in one Bank.
Vintage synths, keys, organs, guitars, and basses; Lo-fi Glow includes all these sounds but processed through effects pedals, tape decks, and samplers like the SP-404 for an eclectic collection of lo-fi inspired sounds. The plugin also comes with many presets to choose from to save time when producing, and on top of that, you can create and save your own presets.
The interface is straightforward with a beautiful design to fit the lo-fi vibe. At the bottom, you have your effects such as distortion, noise, and many more (as you can see in the picture above).
- Lo-fi warmth
Lo-fi Glow offers a true, warm lo-fi sound. You can emulate tape distortion or vinyl and cassette noise to add unpredictability and character to your sound. There’s also a bit-crusher in case you are after that 8-bit sound type of distortion, as well as effects like delay to add space to your sounds.
- In-depth tweaking
Once you enter the sound editor page, Lo-Fi Glow gets interesting. You can modify the sound sources in an A/B manner and access the tuning and filtering controls. There’s also a built-in sequencer for generating ideas on the fly and a dice button that randomizes the patch and creates new sounds to inspire you.
- Plethora of sounds
There are a plethora of carefully selected sounds inside Lo-Fi Glow, over 120 to be exact, as well as 150 carefully curated and designed presets for quick and easy performance. The sounds and presets are catered towards lo-fi hip hop, making this Kontakt library the ideal place for you, the modern hip hop producer, to source and create sounds suitable for your beats.
- Effects and step sequencer meant to inspire
You can create your customized effect chains inside Lo-Fi Glow, with various effects that include saturation, bitcrusher, reverb, delay, rotator, phaser, and many more. The effects work serially in a chain, meaning they all affect one another depending on how you arrange them, which provides many sonic possibilities. The step sequencer included is genuinely inspiring. With 16 steps, it can control pitch, velocity, and up to six assignable macros. Remember that hip hop is constantly evolving and explores more and more sounds and production techniques. This means that tools like this can help set you apart from the rest and inspire new and unique sounds.
Lo-Fi Glow is available through Kontakt on Windows 7 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, and Standalone versions, 64-bit only, and on Mac OS 10.13 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, AU, and Standalone, 64-bit only.
Lo-Fi Glow is a great-sounding Kontakt library that offers warm, lo-fi sounds that sound eclectic and stylized enough to make it an eye-catching instrument. The plethora of effects and control parameters and the built-in sequencer and randomized mode are the main drawing points of this library that aims to recapture the glory of past sounds in a modern way.
3. NI Action Strings
NI Action Strings is a playable orchestra instrument made for Kontakt. It’s meant to add a dramatic orchestral feel to your productions while also sounding organic and realistic.
Every string note and phrase inside Action Strings was recorded live and played by professional string players, adding a nuanced and realistic feel to the sounds. With over 14 GB of sounds, it can cover anything from simple string phrases for hip hop beats to complex orchestral arrangements.
- Blockbuster sound
Action Strings was created with one goal in mind: to make the sound of action blockbuster films accessible to music producers and composers. The library is loaded with string phrases, expertly played by real players and live-recorded, that will add movement and suspense to your beats. You don’t need to have a string player at your disposal or a team of lawyers to clear a string sample for you to get professional, realistic-sounding strings.
The main interface has a piano keyboard, split into different sections. With your left hand, you can select phrases and control chords, while with the right hand, play melodies and set the tonality. It’s a very playable instrument that makes string arrangement easy and simple.
- Huge sample library
Action Strings comes with a sample library of over 14 GB of live-recorded string phrases meant to add an authentic and natural sound to your productions. The phrases vary from basic rhythm patterns to complex melodies. They were recorded in two dynamic levels, which you get the option to blend, and in every musical key so that they fit into any song or beat you produce. Whatever your experience level is, Action Strings won’t limit your choices or inspiration.
- Emotional and intense sound
Aside from all the specs and features, it all comes down to the tone and sound Action Strings offers. The feel of the phrases can be emotional, perfect for your slow hip hop beats that focus on emotion, drama, and themes of struggle and hardships, or intense, perfect for beats that want to build up tension, just like an action sequence in a blockbuster movie would.
Action Strings is available through Kontakt on Windows 7 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, and Standalone versions, 64-bit only, and on Mac OS 10.13 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, AU, and Standalone, 64-bit only.
If you want to make simple orchestral Hip-Hop beats or very advanced orchestral pieces, well, Action Strings 2 got you covered. A well-organized library of sounds and amazing-sounding phrases is what this plugin has to offer you, and although it’s a bit on the pricier side, it’s worth every buck. Save your time and money looking for perfect one-shot kits and sample packs, and cop this plugin for those epic orchestral arrangements.
4. Native Instruments Cloud Supply
Cloud Supply is a Kontakt instrument from the Play Series that offers a variety of synth sounds and fx curated towards trap and modern hip hop music production.
Native Instruments developed the instrument in collaboration with Grammy-winning trap producer Snipe Young, and it’s 100% catered towards trap and hip hop production. Everything you need to create original, melodic layers for these genres is included in Cloud Supply, from keys and mallets to pads, organs, and fx sounds.
It’s filled with beat-ready hybrid keys, wavy pads, plucks, bells, and sequences, as well as pitch-shifted resampling for on-point hidden harmonics – all polished with analog studio gear and high-end processing.
- Modern trap sound
The sounds inside Cloud supply are either distorted, glitchy or spacy, with reverbs and delays specifically tuned and set to complement each preset sound’s character. Everything inside this library was carefully selected to complement modern trap and hip hop music. If you are a hip hop producer who creates his melodic elements from scratch, this plugin promises to cover all your needs and inspire you.
- Combine sounds
You can select and tweak two sounds simultaneously and layer them through the A/B blend knob. This is a great feature, especially if you wish to create unique sounds that are layered with more textures and fx than what a simple preset can provide.
- Sequence and randomize
Cloud Supply comes with a built-in 16-step sequencer, as other Play Series instruments do. There’s also a scale knob to help you stay in key, as well as swing and latch controls and the ability to step-sequence velocity values. You also get a cool randomize button to create new and unpredictable sounds.
- Process each sound in-depth
Cloud Supply’s sound editor page provides a range of controls to help you tweak each sound to your liking or completely transform it into something brand new. You get to alter the tuning of each sound, access to filters, panning, and various envelopes to shape your sound to perfection. Most importantly, the effects included sound incredible and can transform your sounds even more. The effects are assigned in a chain that works similarly to the one found in Lo-Fi Glow (as explained above) and include options like reverb, compressor, tape saturation, delay, and more. You, therefore, get enough tools to create mix-ready sounds for your trap beats without having to leave Cloud Supply.
Cloud Supply is available through Kontakt on Windows 7 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, and Standalone versions, 64-bit only, and on Mac OS 10.13 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, AU, and Standalone, 64-bit only.
Cloud Supply is a modern solution for the current hip hop producer that needs fresh, trendy sounds and instant inspiration. The ability to blend two different sounds offers a wide range of sonic possibilities; the effects are creative and genre-accurate. If you’re feeling stuck, you can always hit the randomize button and get a new, weird sound. Everything you need for your trap and hip hop beats!
5. Output Exhale
Exhale is a vocal instrument designed by Output. It was designed with the sole purpose of pushing what’s possible when it comes to vocal arrangement and vocal manipulation.
Loaded with over 500 presets to choose from, Exhale offers everything vocal-related, from choir notes and phrases to breaths, chants, and high-pitched vocal samples.
- Three playing modes
You get to choose how you trigger each of Exhale’s vocal sounds through the three main trigger options: notes, which splits the vocal sound chromatically throughout your midi keyboard, loops, to play full loops, and slices, to retrigger sections from loops in new orders. It can be played pretty much in any way you can imagine. Whether you choose to go, Exhale is exceptionally playable and intuitive; coming up with fresh ideas is effortless.
- Musical and inspiring
Exhale lets you choose the scale you are in and pitches the vocal samples accordingly so that you are always in key. The built-in effects offer endless inspiration and can help you mix the sound in the box without having to resort to external audio effects to do so—everything from EQs and Compressors to reverb, saturation, and phaser effects is included. Even more exciting is the ability to map all of these effects to macro knobs for even more creative and performative freedom.
- Tweak in depth
Once you expose Exhale’s sound engine, you can see that it’s more than just a sample playback device. You get to sculpt these sounds in-depth with filters, envelopes, effects, and of course, a built-in sequencer. The sequencer can modulate six effects (volume, pan, filter, phaser, formant filter, and saturation) either in step or wave mode. It’s a handy feature, especially if you want to create sounds that have movement and evolve.
- Huge soundbank
Exhale has an astonishing 9 GB soundbank of recordings, all split into three playing modes. The plugin also comes with 500 factory presets that are well organized in a library that uses a tag-based filtering system that makes locating them easy. There’s no way you will run out of sounds or ideas with a library as extensive as Exhale’s.
Exhale is available through Kontakt on Windows 7 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, and Standalone versions, 64-bit only, and on Mac OS 10.13 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, AU, and Standalone, 64-bit only.
Exhale is perfect for the producer who needs to add extra ear-candy layers of vocal effects that have no access to a vocalist or for someone who’s looking for new, creative ways to synthesize sounds. It can offer something as simple as a loop or one-shot sound to embellish your beats with, or something as complex as unique, custom-designed synth sounds that originated from the human voice.
6. Teletone Audio Postcard Piano
Postcard Piano is a piano library for Kontakt, designed by Teletone Audio. It’s marketed as a nostalgic piano since it manages to travel us through the years and create distinct moods for nostalgic, vintage piano sounds.
Postcard Piano is great for moody hip hop songs, where you are trying to capture a specific vibe with a piano that’s full of character or piano phrases that may feel like they’ve been lifted from a 50’s vinyl record.
- Vintage feel
Postcard Piano is rightfully marketed as a nostalgic piano. Each piano note was played on an 1896 Sterling upright piano, recorded, then pitch-shifted down a minor third and time-stretched to create a nostalgic sound that reminds of the past while also staying modern. There are also extra controls for noise, which adds tape noise, and age, which ‘wears’ the sound off to make it feel like it came from the past.
- Excellent reverb
The instrument comes with its own reverb, which sounds fantastic and complements the unique qualities of this piano. Choose between plate, room, church, spring, and hall modes.
Postcard Piano is available through Kontakt (both free player and Kontakt 6) on Windows 7 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, and Standalone versions, 64-bit only, and on Mac OS 10.13 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, AU, and Standalone, 64-bit only.
Postcard Piano is not your usual piano library. It has its own unique tone, thanks to how the piano notes were recorded and processed. The nostalgic vintage, but at the same time modern, feel of it makes it perfect for all sorts of hip hop productions, from boom-bap and soulful hip hop to modern trap-influenced beats.
7. NI Electric Sunburst
Electric Sunburst is an electric guitar sample library for Kontakt. It can add the natural and distinct flair of a classic electric guitar to your productions.
Naturally, an electric guitar is something many producers don’t have access to. It becomes necessary to include an electric guitar library in this list, especially considering the long history of hip hop producers sampling electric guitars; there’s no better library to list than Electric Sunburst. The library offers 154 patterns that cover arpeggios, riffs, strumming patterns, loops, and single notes, as well as a plethora of built-in effects to color your guitar and shape the tone to your liking.
- Different articulations for an organic feel
Electric Sunburst can be played in four different articulation modes: open, muted, flageolet and tremolo. You can also choose whether each articulation will be played with fingers or a plectrum, as well as which notes slide into others and which notes bend. Obviously, much thought and care have gone into this library, making sure it’s as playable and organic as possible.
- Set the tone
Each note, loop, and phrase in Electric Sunburst was recorded multiple times with different pickups, tone settings, volume, and pitch. You have complete control over all of these parameters, and you can choose between bridge pickup, neck pickup, or both of them and adjust the tone and volume. All of these controls give you the power to set the tone and character of your electric guitar with high precision.
- Multiple pedals and effects
Just like with any electric guitar, effect pedals are a must. Electric Sunburst saves you the trouble of post-processing your guitar with different plugins by including an amp and fx page. Everything from EQs, compressors, and cabinets to distortion, fuzz, and retro echo is included in the form of pedals, which you can virtually set up in your customizable pedalboard. The effects can be as clean or dirty as you want them to be, making this library perfect for all sorts of sounds.
Postcard Piano is available through Kontakt on Windows 7 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, and Standalone versions, 64-bit only, and on Mac OS 10.13 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, AU, and Standalone, 64-bit only.
Electric Sunburst can add the flair of a classic electric guitar to your hip hop beats. The control you have over the guitar’s tone is impressive, as is the ability to play it in various styles and ways. There are enough patterns to inspire any type of beat, and if you wish to push it for some powerful sounds, the built-in effects can offer that. Not many guitar libraries offer this much, so if you’re a producer interested in sampling electric guitars for your next beat, this is the best place to go.
8. Output Analog Brass & Winds
Analog Brass & Winds is a virtual instrument by Output. This innovative instrument combines orchestral brass and wind instruments with legendary synths to create unique and powerful sounds.
An 18-piece brass section,18-piece wind section, and a handful of soloists were recorded and sampled at the BMC Hall in Budapest. Each player performed in various playing styles to capture a wide range of sounds and styles, making this library extraordinarily playable and organic.
- Unique sound
Analog Brass & Wind was created to break the rules of orchestral music and push the limits of what brass and wind instruments can sound like. This is done through layering and blending unexpected signals with these orchestral instruments. Some of the unexpected sound sources are analog synths, chosen for their brass-like qualities, pianos, organs, or even beer bottles; all sampled creatively and easily layered with each brass sound. You get an A/B section, where you can blend two different sounds.
- Sequencer and arpeggiator
There’s a built-in sequencer with over 20 rhythm presets to get you started. The arpeggiator is split into two parts and can affect each of the two sounds you layer independently. You can therefore have two separate arpeggios played by two different sounds simultaneously.
Analog Brass & Wind is available through Kontakt on Windows 7 and higher, in VST, VST3, and AAX formats, 64-bit only, and on Mac OS 10.12 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU, formats, 64-bit only.
Analog Brass & Wind is a refreshing orchestral sample library that offers a new approach to orchestral composition. The sounds can be classical-oriented or truly experimental and leftfield, making this library perfect for most modern genres, including hip hop—an excellent tool for anyone looking to explore new sounds.
Best Free Kontakt Libraries For Hip Hop
1. NI Urban Beats
Urban beats is a free Native Instruments library dedicated to hip hop drum programming. There’s a massive collection of loops, one-note, and kits, all playable through your midi keyboard.
- Gritty sound
The drums of Urban Beats feel as if they came straight out of a drum machine or a vinyl record. They have the dirty feel of hip hop songs from the ’90s or the ’00s. It’s a great selection if you are interested in exploring boom-bap or implementing its signature drum sounds in your modern beats.
You get a reasonably wide selection of effects, including saturation for even dirtier tones, reverb, and delay. A filter is also attached to shape the drum sounds and eliminate any harsh frequencies that creep in with the harsh saturation.
Urban Beats is available through Kontakt on Windows and Mac OS, in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU formats.
Urban Beats is a nice selection of drum sounds and perfect if you are interested in exploring dirty drum sounds reminiscent of hip hop’s glorious past.
2. Umlaut Audio uBEAT Hip Hop
uBEAT Hip Hop is a sample library for Kontakt that’s designed for hip hop and electro-fusion drum sounds.
It works similarly to any pad-centric controller, where the bottom section is split into eight different pads with a different sound corresponding to each one.
- Hip hop and electro kits
There’s a wide selection of factory kits included in the interface, all centered around hip hop and electro music, with the option to combine the two and create a hybrid drum kit. The sounds are very 808-driven and perfect for trap and hip hop.
- Midi drag and drop functionality
uBEAT Hip Hop includes a Midi drag and drop function, where you can export your drum patterns in midi straight to your DAW. This means you can later choose to rearrange these patterns and play them with drum samples of your choice.
- In-depth control
You can tweak each drum sound’s decay and start point, as well as tune and pan them to your liking. There’s also a strong FX chain that works serially, with eight different effects to choose from.
Urban Beats is available through Kontakt on Windows 7 and higher and Mac OS 10.9 and higher in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU formats.
uBEAT Hip Hop is a strong option for hip hop drum programming that’s also free. The sounds are boomy and of high quality, while the in-depth control parameters, effects, and midi drag and drop function make it an irresistible tool for modern hip hop production.
3. Claustrophobic Piano
Claustrophobic Piano is a free piano library made for Kontakt. It’s an intimate piano instrument designed by Christian Henson, the same person behind the iconic LABS Soft piano.
Christian sampled a Schimmel piano and recorded it binaurally, meaning recorded with two microphones with the intent of creating a 3-D stereo space to make the listener feel as if he’s in the room with the performers.
- Intimate sound
The sound of this piano is soft, intimate, and overall gorgeous. It was recorded with two microphones, a KU100 binaural “dummy head” mic, and a duvet placed over the piano so that no sound escapes and reflects all over the room. The result is a truly intimate and stereo sound that is better heard and felt on headphones.
Claustrophobic Piano is available through Kontakt and the free Kontakt player on Windows and Mac OS, in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU formats.
Claustrophobic Piano is a beautiful piano library that’s surprisingly free. It can add a unique tonality and rich emotion to your hip hop beats, and I would say it sounds particularly gorgeous on lo-fi hip hop and slow, soulful hip hop beats.
Bonus Kontakt Library
NI Kinetic Toys
Kinetic Toys is a Native Instruments sample library that explores the sounds of vintage children’s toys, tools, and spacey synthesized noises and sounds.
Kinetic Toys is all about adding that extra bit of uniqueness and individualism to your productions. The sounds were recorded and then morphed and processed using a dynamic X/Y modulation system to create anything from spacey leads to glitchy rhythms and evocative textures. Although marketed towards all genres of music, I believe the dark and unsettling tones it can produce have all the right ingredients to enrich any trap beat.
- Unique sounds
The range of sound sources recorded to create Kinetic Toys is impressively broad; anything from clockwork robots and popcorn to synths and ping pong balls. The idea is that you can choose a sound, and using the controls in the main interface, move around the X/Y modulation spectrum to affect the sound with a variety of effects. You can also blend the sounds from toy sources with synths to get layered sounds with rich textures. The sounds can be soft and ambient or even dark and creepy.
- Creative workflow
Kinetic Toys’ workflow is unlike any other I’ve experienced. It can look bizarre in your first introduction, but explaining a few key things can uncloud its mysteries. There are two big toys in the main interface, a ballerina and a robot. The ballerina controls the sound sources; as she dances, the sound will morph between eight toy sounds and eight synth sounds. On the other hand, the robot modulates up to eight effects; as you rotate each of these two figures, the sound changes accordingly. This creative workflow makes Kinetic Toys perfect for all producers since it’s approaching sound design from a fresh perspective that requires zero previous knowledge of synthesis. I think it’s the ideal library for anyone wishing to explore synthesis from a new approach.
- In-depth sound sculpting
There are various effects included in Kinetic Toys that the robot can control and dramatically affect the sound. There are resonant effects like equalizers and filters, spatial effects like delay, bitcrushers and distortions, and, of course, modulation tools. You also get two LFOs and two envelopes, all four of them being assignable so that you can twist and mangle each toy and synth sound to the extreme. These options make Kinetic Toys a good choice for experienced producers too since they can dig under the playful main interface and tweak the sounds in-depth.
Kinetic Toys is available through Kontakt on Windows 7 and higher and Mac OS 10.9 and higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU formats.
Kinetic Toys is an excellent library for those inspired by new and different sounds. It can serve both beginner and experienced producers, allowing the freedom to explore its endless sound design possibilities at your own pace. The sample library is impressive, not only in audio quality but also in the audaciously creative and random origin of its samples—the perfect tool for adding character to your hip hop beats and setting you apart from the rest.
Hip hop is the most popular genre in the world right now, so much that it’s blurring the lines between hip hop and pop. When a genre becomes this popular, it’s only natural that the sounds and production techniques it utilizes will keep getting broader and broader.
This list will help you navigate our beloved and ever-expanding genre as you look for production tools to pay homage and honor the great sounds of the past that made hip hop while also adding your own layer of individualism and enriching hip hop even more.
Other Plugin Roundups:
Reverb & Delay Plugins:
Amps & Preamps:
Audio Restoration, Calibration & Utility:
Processing & Sound Design:
Alvinos Zavlis is an artist/producer from Cyprus based in Bristol, UK. With three albums under his belt and plenty of singles, his catalogue covers a wide range of sounds, from hip hop and trip hop to IDM and experimental electronic styles, all fused together to create unique blends of sounds. He works as a freelance mixing and mastering engineer in Bristol for artists of all styles.