Audio + WAV. **** 4/5 Stars.
It's my opinion that hip-hop producers are a sadly under-valued breed. To anyone who isn't a fan of the music, this may seem like an odd thing to say, but I'm serious. Hip-hop and its various offspring can be really quite difficult genres to produce for. On one hand, the arrangements need to be sparse and minimal enough to leave room for the usually rather 'busy' vocals; but on the other, they need to contain enough sufficiently memorable hooks to sell the track to the listener. The production has to be raw and punchy, but clear enough to allow the MCs to be heard — and it must at all costs avoid sounding over-produced and sterile. It's a tricky balance, and the experts make it sound easy.
It has to be said that some of the sample CDs aiming to cater for this market fall some distance short of the mark, often sounding just a little too clean and antiseptic, failing to deliver the slightly gritty edge this style of music demands. I'm pleased to say that Ghetto Grooves from UK-based Tekniks is almost a textbook example of how to get the balance right. It's not 100-percent consistent — one or two of the construction kits are perhaps a little unconvincing — but for the most part, producers Reece Johnson and Twizt succeed in pulling it off.
The collection is comprised of an audio CD and a WAV-format CD-ROM. The first half of the audio CD is made up of 20 of the aforementioned construction kits, ranging in tempo from 77 to 100bpm. These are followed by several dozen 'bonus' drum loops, various bass loops, hits and Head Noizes. The CD-ROM duplicates all of the audio CD's content, adding a further 1000 samples, including a nice selection of 'vintage' drum machines.
The construction kits feature expertly-programmed beats and percussion, tight bass lines and some nice guitar and keyboard hooks to round things off. A sprinkling of well-aimed scratches, table-stops and vinyl effects are also in evidence — plenty of useful building blocks to play with.
Ironically, some of the strongest material in this set is hidden away in the 'bonus' section, where a selection of satisfyingly robust and thumping breakbeats are to be found. Likewise, the extra material on the CD-ROM contains a handful of real gems, which serve to add extra value to an already strong collection.
While Ghetto Grooves has an obvious hip-hop and R&B bias, it should appeal to producers of every flavour of downtempo dance music. It's a deftly produced and very useable sample library, which speaks volumes for its producers' enthusiasm.
Two-CD audio + WAV set £59.95 including VAT.
Time & Space +44 (0)1837 55200.