Trap and Crunk Synth Beats

  January 2, 2016

If you want to produce Hip Hop - in particular, if you want to produce crunk or grime - you’re gonna to have to master synth skills. Crunk music in particular makes widespread use of classic synth timbres, using clean sine, triangle, and square waves for melodic leads, while reserving harsh, overdriven sawtooth sounds for basslines. Grime is slightly less choosy - blending a wide variety of synth sounds within a single up-tempo production. To explain how to achieve synth sounds that have become popular in hip hop, crunk and grime, we use Arturia’s Minimoog V: a near-perfect emulation of the classic 70’s synthesizer used by Kraftwerk, Gary Numan, Herbie Hancock, and many others. In this article, Hit Talk shows you how to use a synthesizer to create a bone-crushing bassline similar to what you hear in songs like Lil Jon’s “Put You Hood Up.”

1) Set the Perfect Sawtooth

To the left is the Minimoog V’s oscillator section. The oscillators are part of why the Minimoog V is an outstanding soft-synth. Sure, all soft synths have oscillators, but many use wavetable synthesis which generates a constant, static waveform from a file, or a piece of digital code. The Minimoog V oscillators are mathematical re- constructions of the original Minimoog oscillator circuitry, giving the waveforms a colorful warmth unmatched by conventional digital synthesis.

Now, let’s look at the ideal settings for an aggressive synth bassline. On the left side of the diagram, are the range knobs, which set the pitch range of each oscillator. We’ve set oscillator 1 and 3 to a tenor octave, letting oscillator 2 handle the bass frequencies. Each oscillator is set to sawtooth, indicated by the right-angle triangle above the waveform knobs. The sawtooth waveform has the harshest, most intense sound of all waveforms in the Minimoog V canvas. This is the beginning of a nasty crunk synth bassline.

2) Ear-Pleasin’ Soft Clipping

In the first diagram above, note that in the mixer section, each oscillator switch is in the “on” position, and the volumes are up. This ensures every oscillator is audible. In addition, we’ve switched on and turned up the external output volume to ensure that the overload circuit activates when the output signal of the mixer section reaches its limit. We’ll explain why.

The overload circuit is another extremely well-emulated part of the original Minimoog’s circuitry that produces a satisfying and unique timbre. You can activate it in the Minimoog V’s output stage. In the diagram at left, we’ve left the “modifiers” at their default settings, however we’ve enabled the “soft clipping” button. The soft clipping button tells the overload circuit to limit the amplitude of the waves

coming out of the mixer section, giving the Minimoog a very characteristic tonal modification that can add a nasty edge to any bass melody. Since it takes a lot of calculation to emulate the overload circuit, Arturia recommends keeping the Minimoog V’s unison and polyphony switches in the off position (as in our second diagram above).

3) Crunk-Style Chorus

Our final adjustments to this unique sound occur in the effect stages of the Minimoog V. If you click anywhere along the top of the Minimoog V, it opens up and displays several effect and modulation settings. An extremely popular synth effect in the genres of crunk and grime is chorus.

When programming a bassline, tactfully refrain from extreme chorus settings. Above, we’ve set a slow rate, low depth and mostly dry signal. Reserve heavier chorus settings for lead synth sounds. You can select the type of chorus using the buttons at far left in the chorus diagram. “Type”, in this case, refers to the density of the chorus, or how thick it sounds.

Now that you’re familiar with most of Minimoog V’s signal chain, you’re free to experiment. Together, crunk and grime ultilize a vast array of synth sounds, it would be impossible to cover them all in one article. Experimenting in the three areas we’ve explained above - oscillator waveforms, distortion in the synth output stage, and effects - will give you access to many of the sounds you hear in all genres of crunk, grime, rap and hip hop. Arturia Minimoog V renders them all with excellent emulation, adding the vintage vibe of a true analog synthesizer, and giving you a professional-sounding edge that will leave other producers cowering behind the console.

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52 Responses to “Trap and Crunk Synth Beats”

  1. k_t on February 9th, 2009 4:55 am

    what is the best free music producing program o software that can be down loaded?

  2. KAY BABY on February 10th, 2009 6:00 pm

    How can I become the best rapper like Lil Wayne? Can I get a demo on how to do it?

  3. J on February 11th, 2009 7:30 am

    Hi there MB/HT,
    My question is how can i emulate the Flutes you use in Tribal Xplosion 2?. I use Reason and Logic and have tried to do it with the pitch and lfo’s in both programs, any help would be good.
    Thanks in advance

  4. Hit Talk Staff on February 11th, 2009 12:17 pm


    You may want to try Audacity. It’s limited but it is a multi-track wave editor, and you can do loop-based production with it. Give that a try.

  5. Hit Talk Staff on February 11th, 2009 12:23 pm

    It’s going to be tough to emulate the tribal Xplosion flutes since they’re recordings. Pitch and LFO will give you an approximate rendering of a trill, but the only way to get the same result as what you hear on Tribal Xplosion is to record it.

  6. john wright on February 11th, 2009 4:00 pm

    how do i mix and master my tracks using fruity loops studio effects and vsts.

  7. J on February 11th, 2009 9:15 pm

    Hi MB/HT.
    thanks for that, i thought they were recorded but manipulated somehow after.

  8. J on February 11th, 2009 9:51 pm

    Hi again,

    I hear a heap about the Ensoniq ASR-10 sampler and how it can put a nice tone to the sound of the samples run thru it, but what is so different about this sampler to say a Akai MPC? Is the sound generated by the machine or is it how you can tweak the sample with this machine? Also is there anything like the ASR-10 on the market today?

  9. Hit Talk Staff on February 11th, 2009 10:07 pm


    First learn your software, then look up more general production concepts like the ones you find here at Hit Talk. Check out Image-line’s tutorials, and sign up for the Hit Talk email tips.

  10. Hit Talk Staff on February 12th, 2009 10:48 am

    Kay, unfortunately we don’t instruct on how to rap, just how to produce rap. Thank you for the question though.

  11. J on February 12th, 2009 11:27 am


    If you want to “rap” First try to get your own Flow; try playing with some words, making them bounce with a beat: like 4 bars worth of words you can repeat until you think you have a nice in time Flow. Also, Subject matter is a big part, if you’re talking stuff that don’t make sense people wont be able to relate to that, so try to have a idea of what you want the song to be about before you even start.
    Your voice will also be a unique part of You, so don’t feel like you need to sound like “Lil Wayne.” There is no set way to rap and every rapper is different but once you have the fundamentals there i.e Flows, Subjects, Clarity, and staying within the bars i.e, Intro, Verse, Hook, Bridge, Ending, you will be left with nothing but your own creative freedom. Also practice Freestyle and you will find your Flow getting tighter and more natural.
    Hope i helped

  12. Hit Talk Staff on February 12th, 2009 7:03 pm

    Yo J, thanks for that comment.

    About the ASR-10, it has the ability to re-sample itself: a function with several uses. It’s not a standard sampler, per se, since it uses synth architechture. Check out the article on vintage synth

  13. J on February 12th, 2009 8:32 pm

    No problem,

    Thanks for that link. Do you know of anything like the ASR-10 on the market today? the synthesizer architecture sounds like a good feature. Does that mean the samples will be transformed into like a wavetable?
    Thanks Hit Talk.

  14. Lee Doffoney on February 16th, 2009 5:49 pm

    I am an inspired rap and rnb musician, i just started wanting to take it seriously, but i want to be able to create my own music… reading alot of info online about music production and these softwares to help me, but really is it that easy to just download the software and analyzing it, for someone whos never dealt with this type of equipment before will i really get the hang of it right way

  15. Hit Talk Staff on February 16th, 2009 7:09 pm

    Hi J,

    Yea, the sample acts kind of like an oscillator, processed with the same synth circuitry as the others mentioned in the artcle - modulation, etc… Actually, the Reason Malstrom Graintable synth does something similar.


  16. Hit Talk Staff on February 16th, 2009 7:51 pm


    Fantastic question: you’re a rap and rnb musician? What instrument do you play? drummer, guitarist, keyboardist. Depending on your answer, one DAW may be better than another. Here’s a Remix article that sorts through some audio recording host softwares.

    Learning production is like learning any musical instrument: you can start out and satisfy yourself by creating something that’s uniquely yours, even if it’s simple; but, as your skill-set grows, you’ll become more articulate and intelligent in your production style.

    You can get a good start by buying a basic recording package. Something like the Samson G-Track usb mic, or a Yamaha MW-10cx mixer with a rode NT mic; most usb-compatible hardware comes with a bundled software. First learn how your system works (that’s the easy part), then research and practice production techniques like the ones you find here, and constantly strive to improve. Production is always a good skill to have, if for no other reason than showcasing songs you’ve written.

  17. J on February 17th, 2009 7:05 am

    Hi HT.
    Yea i use Malstrom in reason but i still can’t load my own sample’s in there without routing thru another device, i like that synth tho. Come to think if it i read somewhere that the guys at Modernbeats helped develop that synth, is that right?

  18. Hit Talk Staff on February 17th, 2009 10:50 pm

    Hmmm, there’s a Malstrom Bass library. The Malstrom synth, however, was coded long ago by a band of intrepid Scandinavians.

  19. J on February 18th, 2009 12:52 pm

    Oh i see, Respect to them crazy Scandinavians :) just a shame they didn’t let us load our own samples as wavetables.

  20. hassan from africa on February 21st, 2009 7:59 am

    i need help some name’s of vst’s who use interisting voice because i download i use mush vst’s before specialy when you get a vst 2 or 3 giga but you found just few voices who intersting
    can some one give me some names please
    i use before hypersonic and refx nexus and sample thank and purity and fm8 and zibra2 but i steel feel that i need modern and interesting sounds

  21. J on February 21st, 2009 5:14 pm

    Hi Hassan,

    Try Rob Papen Blue Synth, It has six Oscillators so you will be able to make some Rich sounds with that, it also has some cool features and presets, Also try Rob Papen Albino if you want to make some more Nasty sounding Synths, You should be able to get Demo versions on both platforms,

  22. hassan on February 22nd, 2009 8:18 am

    hi J thanks for the vst’s that’s what i was searching for all the time specialy albino3 thanks alot man you are the best.
    peace to you from africa.

  23. J on February 23rd, 2009 7:53 am

    No problem Hassan.

    Glad to be of some help.
    Peace from the Uk to Africa.

  24. billy-boy on February 24th, 2009 8:57 am

    hello im bill im a beatboxer and wont to no wot the best mic is and wot mic beardy man uses if u cant find out no probs but it would be usefull

  25. J on February 25th, 2009 12:56 pm

    Hi Bill,

    Sorry i could not say what Mic Beardyman uses, but for the question about the best beatbox mic i would say give this a look.

    Hope that helps.

  26. J on March 27th, 2009 7:42 am

    What effect use for make electric voice like Lil wayne , or k west ? cause i try to make in vocoder fruity loops and it`s not so well .. do u have maybe a plug in for sound forge .. ar maybe for fruity loops ? and how much $ :)
    Thanks in advance

  27. Hit Talk Staff on March 27th, 2009 3:32 pm

    Hi J,

    It’s Auto-tune - Check out the Blame It Hit Report: It’s about 3 benjamins to buy.

  28. rob on April 22nd, 2009 11:04 am

    well i defnly took in everything yall had to say on this article. i took notes and actually wrote down things but i use fruityloops and i think that oscillator is on there i just need to find it but i have a pretty good amount of questions about mixing and mastering beats but i go use my email alot n il prob forget to come back to the site do you mind keeping contact through email or even myspace use my email to contact me

  29. g on July 20th, 2009 3:40 am

    what is are the most popular software packages used by grime producers?

  30. luckyboy on July 27th, 2009 12:30 am

    i have liked your beats a lot now the question i had is how do i starte being a producer or what step should i take to be a good producer

  31. Hit Talk Staff on July 31st, 2009 10:42 pm

    Yo G,

    It’s not so much about software packages as it is about style and implementation.


  32. Hit Talk Staff on July 31st, 2009 10:45 pm

    Yo Lucky,

    You’ve got a lot of options open to you to start being a producer. One thing we’d advise is to get a nice, intuitive DAW demo, like Ableton Live, and try your hand at sequencing beats. You can get free beats, for example, if you sign up for the ModernBeats newsletter at the modernbeats main page… OR… learn an instrument, like it says in our Jeremy Harding interview. If you haven’t read our interview with Jeremy Harding, go to the main page and check out “Industry Interviews”… that’ll give you an idea of some of the first steps you can take.


  33. Amu on August 30th, 2009 1:56 am

    hi ht…im still new in da world of production…im using reason 4 software…my question iz,how do i get a unique or create a complex sound wit reason…do i use effects?

  34. Amu on August 30th, 2009 2:02 am

    hi ht…its amu again,da other thing iz…im struggling wit da arrangement…when arranging a track,it does nt come out da way i want it 2b.Any suggestions?

  35. Hit Talk Staff on August 30th, 2009 3:00 pm

    Hi Amu,

    Glad to see you’re interested in the site. To get a complex/unique sound with reason, we highly recommend playing with the modulation functions on the Malstrom, or on the Thor synthesizers. In the Malstrom synth, there should be an LFO A, and an LFO B. By playing with the settings on your LFO… for example the rate and depth controls, you’ll be able to really create unique sounds. Try varying the Malstrom’s “grain oscillators” as well. That’s one way to do it. You may also try routing samples via the NNXT or REx player through distortion. There are so many ways you can create something unusual. Reason is really amazing that way.

    The best instruction you can get on arrangement is in our Hit Reports. The arrangement maps show you exactly how songs are laid out. You can check out the hit talk video to get a walk-through tour of one of the Hit Reports.

  36. Digitawy on September 23rd, 2009 7:03 pm

    How can i create a bassline which is clear, not too muddy or loud but retaining its “bassiness” . i have a problem on filtering and compressing my basslines

  37. Hit Talk Staff on September 24th, 2009 9:52 pm

    Yo Digitawy,

    One of our email tips will help answer that question. They should come via email as a bundle of 10 tips.

    Maybe also try a synth that can emulate analog. (maybe search “Analog Synth” on


  38. hassan on October 21st, 2009 2:29 pm

    hello my friends really i’m searching about the name of hit or the name of the vst that the producer of ” don’t want you back of back street boys ” ( “dan dan dan dan ” You hit me faster than….) i mean that dan dan dan dan the hit they use there if it possible just the name of that hit or the vst they use in it thanks again
    hassan from africa.

  39. Hit Talk Staff on October 21st, 2009 5:46 pm

    If you mean what we think you mean, it’s got multiple layers. That’s that big, bassy orchestra-type stab, right? It may not be a VST at all. Most likely its several recordings bounced to a common channel, then re-triggered at the rhythm they use in the song.

  40. glorenz on November 25th, 2009 4:58 am

    thanks for the advice modern has fire beats im tryna catch on.just got audacity thru your advice and made my first sampled beat after 10 years of fooling this link sign me up for hit talk.i want the messages sent to my email.i have trouble making samples fit my metronome any timestrech advice for audacity samples with reason

  41. Hit Talk Staff on November 26th, 2009 10:36 am

    Audacity is one of the simpler DAWs. It’s an open-source DAW, and it doesn’t have a lot of the more difficult-to-program features like time-stretching. If you re-pitch your samples, you’ll be able to match tempo, but then you’ll be stuck with the problem of making them match up pitch-wise. But that’s a challenge DJs have been meeting for a long time. you’ve just got to choose the right samples.

  42. Hit Talk Staff on November 27th, 2009 3:06 am

    Oh, btw, Glorenz - just click the “subscribe to comments” box before submitting if you want to receive followups via email

  43. glorenz on November 28th, 2009 4:17 am

    thankx for the reply my page says im subscribed to this entry which i hope is hit talk and that i continue to get the reoprts regularly.audicaty’s so easy to use and for my final mix it helped make the effects like bass boost improve my song.i work with pro tools 6.9 and live which have the time strech feature so im gonna chop in aud and load the sample to either for futhur improvements.

  44. Glorenz on December 5th, 2009 3:24 pm

    HitT,Wzup I was wondering how to chop a sample in ableton6.5 or pro tools6.9 and have the sample cut each other off( without losing the end of the sample) like the mpc does.Ive seen videos that suggests abl7 using a ‘drum rack trk’ which 6 doesnt have.maybe you have a suggestion using the nnxt or nn19 or a plugin i can buy without upgrading my pro.t or abl.also would a mpd 24 /32 come with the plugin to solve this issue on ablet.6.thanks

  45. glorenz on December 6th, 2009 11:09 pm

    hit t,i was wondering how to make a sample cut another off like the mpc does in resaon3′ ablet6 or pro t 6.9.i use battery alot in ableton but cant get the results.would a mpd24/32 solve the issue or do i need a mpc 1000 or better.i would like to update all three platforms which one would be wisest for what im tryna achieve.I heard abl 7-8 has a “drum rack track” that works is this true.

  46. slimm on January 31st, 2010 10:26 am

    when a person says they vocals hit in a certain range example(around 2k)how can you tell?what is it that you have to hear,i know that you have to sweep but how can i tell where my vocals are sitting

  47. Hit Talk Staff on February 1st, 2010 6:50 am

    Usually a producer will use a highpass filter to get rid of the very lowest frequencies (below the range of the human voice.) A man’s voice usually ranges between 90 and 160 (approximately.) When you ask “how can you tell” you can tell from what frequency their voice is at. (There are ear training CDs that you can use to train yourself to be able to hear the difference). If you’re in doubt, you can always use a spectrum analyzer plugin (see Analyze Your Mix Visually). But if all you’re looking to do is treat your vocals with an EQ (with a parametric EQ), try rolling off the lowest frequencies and boosting the gain very gently somewhere in the 5-10KHz range. Of course it all depends on the voice.

  48. hassan from africa on February 14th, 2010 9:27 am

    hi my friends how are you i wish fine nchalah.
    i want ask if it possible about the vst synth and the effects vst the producers of modernbeats use specialy in demo of “Ethnic Music Chopz 2″
    thanks again my friends.
    peace to you from africa.

  49. E.T on March 14th, 2010 6:32 am

    Yor am having problems giving a nice reverb for my recordings am using audacity and samplitude can any one help and i must say great work you guys are doing

  50. John on March 14th, 2010 10:57 am

    Hey E.T,

    There’s heaps of reverb plug-ins out there. You should maybe look into convolution reverbs like the Waves IR-L. it really depends on what you are doing tho. For example, on a snare you might want to use a “Plate” then on a Kick you might want to use a “Room” setting. On background vocals to add some distance try playing with a hall or a plate setting, you can also add some choruses. Hope that helps…

  51. cliff on February 15th, 2011 7:45 am

    ya ,i would lik to know wich of all the softwares we using in production,is the best,wich one is above all?

  52. Hit Talk Staff on February 20th, 2011 10:12 pm

    @Cliff we’ll refer you to this comment on choosing music software

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