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Looping: The Key to Today’s Hottest Rap Songs

What do hits like “Paper Planes” by M.I.A. and “Crazy In Love” by Beyoncé have in common? Both iconic songs use samples in their composition. What was once a cornerstone of hip-hop production, sampling is beginning to stall in today’s rap industry. The potential legal battles that can ensue when using samples has made sampling too risky a venture for many producers. Fortunately, loops, which are quite similar to samples, are on the rise and can be heard on most of the hip-hop/rap songs in the Top 40 and Rap Caviar Spotify playlists. To find out more on loops, we invite you to read this article.

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In early hip-hop production, sampling was an essential feature that made the genre unique. For those unfamiliar, sampling is the practice of taking a melodic audio bit (the “sample”) from another artist’s song or composition and inserting it into one’s own beat track. An artist would then record vocals over the beat, and a song would be born. Typically, the producer using the sample will edit and manipulate it in a creative way rather than just keeping the audio file the same, but this is not always the case. However, many copyright issues can arise with the unauthorized use of samples, usually involving legal battles between the producer who used the sample and the artist who created it. Consequently, as the music industry has grown over the years, sampling is seen as both risky and pricey, so more and more producers are putting aside the once quintessential hip-hop practice in favor of something else: loops.

Loops are usually one to eight bars of music that often involve a melodic idea that aim to be a potential instrumental hook for a song. They can range from being simple to incredibly complex, and aren’t always something melodic, as there are many drum beat loops made as well. Producers use loops much like they would use samples: creatively manipulating it (or not) as they see fit in their track. Producers can obtain loops via two ways: online or directly from the loop maker. A quick Google search shows there are a plethora of different loop libraries available, with the most well-known ones being Loopcloud and Splice. Typically, producers pay a subscription fee to access these loop libraries, and in turn can use any of the loops royalty-free, thus avoiding any copyright issues. If producers get their loops directly from a loop maker, then the two would have negotiations prior to use of the loops in a song. Usually negotiations involve the loop maker acquiring a part of the producer’s publishing rights and master royalties, essentially granting the loop maker a co-producer credit on the beat. However, this could cause some issues for lesser known loop makers who, when sending their loops to big producers, can run the risk of being taken advantage of. But these instances are few and far between compared to the frequency of sampling’s legal battles. On the other hand, these unknown loop makers can potentially get their big break if a more well-known producer uses one of their loops in a song for an artist. Looping is therefore seen by many as a potential way for new or up-and-coming producers to get their foot in the door of the hip-hop and rap music industries.

However, for the producers themselves, there is a small stigma associated with using loops. Like the debate around sampling years ago, loops can be seen as ‘cheating’ in a sense, since the producer isn’t taking the time or putting in the work to write and compose an original melody from scratch. Instead, they look through a few library pages and folders, drag it into their beat, and voila, half their job building a track is done. However, this is also the biggest benefits of using loops. For well-known producers who already make beats for big artists, utilizing loops makes the process of creating a beat much faster. And at the current release rate of the rap world today, with artists putting out more and more singles every month instead of releasing albums, it’s no question that fast production is a key to success in this industry.

For more information on looping in hip hop and rap music, visit the source content on the Pitchfork website.

Are you a musician who creates your own loops and desire to make better ones? Or do you want to start by learning a new instrument? Canyon Entertainment Academy offers lessons, coaching, and instruction in all aspects of the performing arts, whether that be through mastering your instrument, your voice, or other relevant industry skills. For more information, please visit or contact us at info(at)

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