Video Tutorial – Making a Dirty South / Crunk Beat

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Hi, I’m Dave from and on this tutorial I’ll be showing you how to make a dirty south style hip hop beat in Reason.   I’ll be going through from the start, explaining my creative flow, as well as explaining how I make each synth.

Okay!  Let’s begin.


If I don’t really have any riffs or hooks in mind, I generally start with the drums.   I’ll make a combinator and add an instance of ReDrum.   I’ll have a look through my sample collection until I find something that suits what I want for the beat.   In this case, since I’m making a kinda crunk beat, I’ll be using some drum samples from my “Crunk and Dirty South” free sample pack you can find on my website.

I’ll lay the snare and clap down on the 5 and 13, layering the samples this way makes for a more full sound.   The kick drum I’m going to put in to taste, just to get a kinda bouncy feel, without overdoing it.   Now, right click and go “Copy pattern to track” to move the sequenced drums to the reason sequencer window.

Hi Hats

Next up I’ll do the hi-hats.   In this genre of music, the hi-hats are usually used to emphasise catchier parts or to build up the music.

I do these in much the same way as the other drums – the reason I separate the two is that it makes it easier to mix the levels later on if the hi-hats are in a different channel.   Combinator – ReDrum – load some samples.   With these I’ll up the resolution to 1/32 and the steps to 32, which essentially means they’ll be played twice as fast, as the default is 16 steps and 1/16 resolution.   So I’ll make a hi hat loop with a combination of the closed and open hats, then copy the pattern to the hi hat track.

Sawtooth Lead

Now we come to making the melody.   I’m going to start with a big sawtooth lead, which most dirty south beats tend to feature.   I’ve made this with an instance of thor – I’ve made a 3 octave spread of Multi oscillators, all on the default saw wave setting.   I’ve detuned these to thicken the sound a bit, then I’ve clicked the “2″ and “3″ buttons to send them through to the amp.   I’ve then removed the filter so the high end comes through clearly.

As for making the actual riff, I wanted something dark and frickin’ cool, so I worked around semitones, as moving between semitones gives that cool, minor sound.   Then to make it more melodic and interesting, I added in some other notes in the key.

Hip Hop Flute-y synth

For the main lead of this track I’ll add a kinda hip hop flute-esque synth sound.   I’ve made this with two synths – an instance of thor and an instance of malstrom.   I put these together in a combinator with a line 6:2 mixer to splice them together and give some easy control over the levels.

I made the thor effect with two analog sine waves an octave apart, and a saw analog wave on the lower octave to add a bit of texture.   I’ve applied the LFO to the pitch of the three oscillators gently to give a vibrato effect – for more details on how to do this, check out my “Making the Beat” episode for Lady Gaga – Poker Face, where I explain how modulation bus routing works (Don’t worry – it’s not as hard as it sounds!)

To make it sound a bit more flute-y, I’ve added an instance of NNXT with the preset patch “Flutola”.

Finally, I’ve added a stereo imager to the line mixer, widened the high end and turned the aux nobs on both synths to full – this makes the sound bigger and helps to make everything sit in the mix better.

Effects-wise, I’ve added a reverb unit to make the lead sit in the mix better, a compressor and maximiser to make the level consistant (A high pitched flute is generally going to be more prominent than a low pitched one though, since the frequency is higher and thus more piercing!)   And finally stereo imaged it so it is wider, which makes it sound bigger.

When coming up with the lead melody I usually try and relate it to all the other melodies being played in some way.   Since the lead uses notes one semitone apart, I have tied it in with that.   And in true crunk style, I’ve made the riff play once through, then taken it up an octave.   I don’t know why they always seem to do it, but I think it’s pretty cool once in a while.


For authenticity, I’ve added some low piano notes to beef up the low end.   I just used an instance of NN-XT with the “GrandPno W” preset.   I’ve run this through a reverb unit which I’ve compressed, so the tail end of the sample is longer and at the same level as the start of the sound, making it fill out the beat more effectively.

I’ve just accentuated the chorus here with the semitone theme we’ve been using – on the beat, then leading up to the beat and hitting on the beat – a simple, catchy, dark melody line.


To further strengthen the bass end, I’ve added this bass synth – made with thor, I’ve got a square wave, a soft saw and a clean sine wave, all cut down low on the filter, run through a maximizer and an equalizer which completely cuts off the high end.   This gives a really deep sub bass element to the sound that will sound ACE through some good speakers.

I’ve literally just used this to back up the piano in the chorus.


For the chorus, I like to fill out the music with a high pitched string sound on one note – this adds tension to the music, making it obvious that is a big part of the track.   I’ve just used a preset string effect called “Lord of the Violins” for this, making sure the sound isn’t too loud – it should be just audible, as it isn’t a focal point.

I’ve just used the root note of the key, in this case F, on a high octave to fill out the beat in the chorus.

Snare roll

Last, and most importantly for a dirty south beat, is the inevitable pitched roll snare.   I’ve explained how to make this seperately in my short “Pitched Snare Roll” tutorial.

Here It’s just a case of making an interesting percussive melody, notice how I’ve used the same percussive riff in different pitches?   That makes it more memorable and catchy.

And there you have it!   A big ol’ Dirty South beat that T.I. would be jealous of.   Get down to the club, get your crunk on and represent for your clique so your shortty knows you up in dat club!


One Response to “Video Tutorial – Making a Dirty South / Crunk Beat”

  1. [...] Check out the tutorial here! Related Posts…Video Tutorial: Making a Pitched Snare Roll in Reason (Dirty South / Crunk stylee!)Making the Beat: The Lonely Island – We Like SportzFree Sample Pack – Crunk / Dirty South drum samples!New “Making the Beat” video: Lady Gaga – Pokerface!New Video Tutorial! – Video Tutorial – Making an Awesome Heavy Gangstuh Hip Hop Beat (Like Dr Dre!) [...]

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