To a Music Artist, Not All Beats Are the Same
I hit my teen years in the late 1970s. I remember my parents telling me, way back then, that my music wasn’t as good as what they listened to in their teens. They used to tell me that, “all your modern music sounds the same.” I sometimes feel that way about 2020s music. Sometimes it seems like the beats are nearly identical.
Of course, I am not a hip-hop artist. Though I am a musician, singer, and songwriter, I don’t make music around beats. So when I see that Supreme Tracks sells hip-hop, trap, pop, and reggaeton beats, it doesn’t mean much to me. I am fully familiar with the pop genre; the rest I know nothing about.
A much younger artist would feel differently. People much younger than me listen to hip-hop, trap, and reggaeton. To them, not all beats are the same. Each kind of beat is distinct and easily identified if you know what to listen for. So with that in mind, I decided to educate myself.
Hip-hop has its roots in the original rap music developed in the 1970s. It came out of New York City and was originally characterized by synthesized music built around dominating drum tracks. Rhyme was a big part of the early days of rap and hip-hop, though modern artists don’t necessarily see rhyming as critical.
Hip-hop itself has multiple sub genres and unique cultures pertaining to each one. In the end, it can be hard to distinguish between sub genres because there is quite a bit of overlap. As such, hip-hop beats don’t necessarily belong to one subgenre or another.
The one subgenre of hip-hop that clearly stands out with distinction is trap. From a musical standpoint, trap beats emphasize complex high-hat patterns along with finely tuned kick drums. When instrumentation is added, it is generally designed to enhance rather than fill out. In trap, it is all about the drums.
Lyrically, trap music focuses heavily on serious urban issues including drug use and violence. The sub-genre itself was born from the slang ‘trap’ as it pertains to an urban drug house.
Reggaeton is an interesting combination of traditional reggae along with hip-hop, dancehall, and several other musical genres. Most of it comes out of Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and Latin America. It could be the most popular form of music in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.
Reggaeton beats feature a ton of syncopation with a heavy Latin influence. It combines both instruments and drum tracks along with vocals that are either sung or lyrically spoken. Unfortunately, reggaeton is hard to describe to someone unfamiliar with traditional reggae and Caribbean music. But it is easy to identify once you’ve heard it. It’s that unique.
There isn’t much to say about pop beats. But, since they were listed on the Supreme Tracks website, there are obviously people buying them. Pop beats belong to the pop music genre. What is pop music? It’s in the name: whatever happens to be most popular on the mass-market at any given time.
Pop music isn’t as easily defined as hip-hop or trap. It doesn’t have defining characteristics to the degree of genres like disco and blues. It is pretty much the vanilla music of the day.
So now you know a little bit more about beats. The different types of beats mean nothing to me because that kind of music isn’t my style. But to an artist who uses them, beats are very easily distinguished by genre. They all sound different; they all evoke different emotions.