Sean Divine presents techniques for getting wide, full "punches" and ad-lib layers to make a hip-hop verse vocal more interesting. Learn methods you can apply to your own mixes.
- [Narrator] As you know, it's very important in hip-hop music to be able to understand the verse vocals, and there are many techniques to emphasize certain words and phrases. I've worked with many different hip-hop artists throughout my career who all have a very slightly different way of doin' this. I want to show you a method that has worked well for me. First, let's listen to a verse with prevalent punches and ad-libs.
If you look below the main verse layers, you'll see that we have two layers of punches. One panhard left, and one panhard right. The performer has recorded these two punch layers similarly, but by panning them this way, you'll be able to give them a wide and present effect in the mixing process. Let me solo these punches so you can hear exactly what he did in the recording process. (hip-hop music fragments) Of course which words you choose to record punches for is up to you.
However, be sure that you're not overdoing it. Punches are meant to be for emphasis and to keep the listener's interest. Not to distract them. Now let's take a listen to another type of layer: an ad-lib. The ad-lib track is quite popular in hip-hop and I'm sure you're familiar with its use. It's a kind of freestyle track where artists can record phrases, harmonies, or even sung layers to further increase the excitement and interest for a verse. The ad-lib can have your own signature approach, so there are no rules to how you use them.
Your goal is simply to hold the listener's interest throughout the verse and provide variation. (hip-hop music) Let me solo those ad-libs so you can better hear what he's doing in the recording. (echoing hip-hop music fragments) Again, remember that you're trying to enhance the main vocal not distract your listener from it.
Don't overdo it. Many artists develop their own signature style punches and ad-libs, so remember there are no rules here, just have fun.
In this course, Sean Divine—a producer and mix engineer whose instrumental catalog has received millions of plays online—demonstrates vocal recording and mixing techniques that can yield impressive results. While Sean uses Logic Pro in this video, he explains concepts in a way that are applicable to the digital audio workstations and audio plugins of your choice. To begin, he covers a few initial concepts in the tracking process, like microphone techniques and vocal editing. Next, Sean walks you through the mixing process and touches on unique plugin techniques that can help you reduce harshness and sibilance. Finally, he explains basic mastering concepts and shares tricks that can help your hip-hop song compete with other commercial tracks.
- Maximizing a hip-hop vocal with layering
- Recording ad libs
- Editing and comping hip-hop vocals
- Mixing hip-hop vocals
- Processing a premixed instrumental