One of the top trends along 2021 in rap/hiphop has been the presence of string instruments: guitar loops and guitar samples ranging from electric guitar samples, acoustic guitar samples and even other string instruments like ukulele samples and some asian ones as well.
PoloG's last album, "Hall of fame", is the perfect example of this as almost half of the songs have guitar sounds, both acoustic and electric and even ukuleles. More and more artists are including these instruments defying genre boundaries and their "rules".
The popularity of guitar samples both in analog and digital form, sets a breakthrough from production trends that dominated the sound of hitlists until 2020 (for example, rattle or shaker sounds used in many songs like Rico Nasty's "Smack a Bitch", G Herbo's "PTSD" and Ty Dolla $ign's "Universe”). Until then, the predominant trend was drum programming, leaving melodies for the last place in the importance list after 808's, snares, and hi-hats.
Today's reliance on guitar loops and samples dates as back as 2018 when Rolling Stone Magazine called it "the secret weapon" for the success of artists like Young Thug, Gunna, Juice WRLD y Travis Scott. From this moment, both acoustic and electric guitar sounds have spread to many more songs, being easy to incorporate them through prerecorded guitar loops and guitar samples, without having to learn to play the instrument.
The start of guitar loops in Hip Hop
Back in 1999, Dr. Dre started sampling guitars in his songs, fast forward to Lil Wayne really was the one to popularize "guitar beats" in his 2010 album "Rebirth". Back then, the rapper played the guitar himself on stage which led to criticism, partly because of his simple use of the instrument and also because it represented a paradigm shift within the genre that didn't please everyone.
The current popularity of the use of guitar samples is because there's no need to even touch a guitar anymore, you can easily incorporate them with more accesibility and lower costs and achieve unthinkable sounds.
What really drives the popularity of creative material are artists that record and share their melodies as loops, sometimes using weird or ancient instruments with a lot of history.
Today's artists killing it with guitar loops
Artists like Don Toliver, NAV, Nick Mira and many more incorporate guitar players in their songs, adding expansive and intricate sounds that add complexity and character to songs. So it doesn't matter if you are a hip hop or electronic music producer, you too can use guitar loops in your beats. There's a huge range of sounds to choose from: from acoustic guitar loops, electric guitar loops, sad guitar samples, jazz samples and so forth.
Multi-platinum producer RushDee Williams, has also incorporated guitar samples to his creative practice and places Lil Nas X's Old Town Road (that has a sampled banjo from Nine Inch Nails and was number one at Billboard for 17 weeks) as an example that a string loop is a key ingredient in the creation of a hit song.
Soundwise, guitars are the perfect company for the "melodic rappers" movement like Roddy Rich and Morray, who day by day blur the line between rap and singing. And even if some producers are still not into the sound of strings, there is no denying that their use is very popular and the audience welcomes it. Many viral songs in TikTok and Clubhouse feature these type of string samples.
From a technical standpoint, having guitar sounds on songs is extremely simple with an infinity of plugins, guitar samples and guitar loops recorded with actual instruments that bring organic and deep characteristics to the production process.
The influence of guitars in hip hop is here to stay, and with more and more accesibility and ease of use nowadays anyone anywhere can create hitlist- worthy songs straight from their laptop.
If you haven't tried already, we have a huge selection of free guitar samples for you to experiment and have fun with these sounds.