The Gear and Process Used in the First Two Micro-Chop Sample Challenges

A look at what techniques and tools producers are using to make their beats.

Over the past few weeks, my mentions on Instagram and Twitter have been flooded in the best possible way with beats for the #SwinginFlipChallenge (read more about it here and here) and the #RunToFlipChallenge (read more about it here and here.) I’ve been overwhelmed by the volume of amazing music so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to better curate and share some of the videos.

I don’t have all the answers yet, but short write-ups highlighting some of the essential entries in both challenges certainly can’t hurt. With that in mind, let’s look at what equipment people are using to make their magic. Links to each producers Bandcamp are included for further exploration.

For his #SwinginFlipChallenge contribution “Beanie Trak,” Oakland-based producer and sessionin resident artist sndtrak employed his Maschine sampler to strip Mint Condition’s song down to its bare bones and build it back up into something amazing. With an extraterrestrial-level of sample deconstruction that I can’t even pretend to fully understand (is that a talkbox I hear towards the end?), he made a monster beat that’s almost unrecognizable for its original source. The creative video and overhead shots add to the overall experience.

Chicago-based producer moshun executed an extremely impressive #RunToFlipChallenge flip with an 88-key Yamaha keyboard by running it through a lounge lizard preset. She cut up the sample, slowed it down, and played it live on keys. Then she live keyboard drummed a beat with a crazy tempo switch up before going back to a slower tempo around the 37-second mark. She finished the song by alternating back to a faster tempo with some more beautifully played keys.

moshun wasn’t the only producer who captivated Micro-Chop readers and the producer community on Twitter with live playing. Vancouver-based beatmaker karavelo utilized a unique video vantage point and his MPC to create a slice of beatmaking mastery for his #RunToFlipChallenge entry. The next-level pad work and finger drumming, the camera bouncing a bit because of his movements, and the overall execution behind the beat make this one a winner.

Philadelphia producer æon. opted for a clean overhead view for his #RunToFlipChallenge video as he crafted some magic with the help of his Akai MPD218 and Intua’s Beatmaker 3. The way he caught the piano sample just right, used different effects to alter the drums, and stretched out various samples make this a really special piece of production. It was certainly a hit with his Twitter audience—check out the enthusiastic response in his replies.

Virginia-based bass player, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Nya7seeDz took to the ever popular Roland SP-404 to play out his ultra-smooth, heart string-tugging second flip for the #RunToFlipChallenge. Expertly placed filters, some really nice bass work, and subtle but effective sampled piano keys make this one sing. His first flip for the challenge is also a well worth your time.

Further SP utilization also took place when Maryland’s eelxb busted out the SP-404 + Maschine magic for the #RunToFlipChallenge. Peep the use of filters on the sample, the slightly off-kilter drums, and the subtle but perfectly placed piano--there's a lot of great stuff to unpack in this one. I also really dig the overhead shot of his setup in the dark with the samplers illuminated for added effect.

New Jersey producer dangr_wlf also took advantage of the dark room/lit up sampler vibe while using the Digitakt compact sampling drum machine to showcase his #RunToFlipChallenge instrumental. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone cook on a Digitakt before, but dangr_wlf definitely made me want to hear more people use this interesting piece of equipment. His track is one of my favorite entries from the current challenge—a bold and beautiful reimagining of The Jones Girls’ timeless original.

From physical gear to DAWs, any visualization of process can help captivate viewers. Thohoyandou, South Africa-based collective Imaginary Artists impressed the Twitter producer community with their excellent entry in the #SwinginFlipChallenge. Using really nice vocal catches, they cut up Mint Condition in a unique way before enhancing their beat in FL Studio with all kinds of textures and background accents. The clean screen capture helps add to the overall vibe.

Sacramento producer TellyMcLean, who made some serious noise during the previous sample challenge, also used a clean screen capture of his Maschine interface to showcase his gorgeous contribution to the #RunToFlipChallenge. With a masterful utilization of effects throughout the beat, it sounds like he pulled the sample apart and reconstructed it while floating on a cloud. With so many impressive sample challenge performances available on his Twitter account, this is definitely a producer to look out for.

And last but not least Amsterdam’s Tapelove played out his bass-heavy, beautiful interpretation of the #RunToFlipChallenge on his MPC X while his cat sat in his lap. Not to worry, his execution was still flawless—as the meticulous mix of bass, drums, and keys (with some moans for added effect) make this one a homerun. A truly beautiful beat, this one is begging for repeat listens.

Amazing beats keep pouring into my mentions on an almost hourly basis, so I’ll brainstorm more creative ways to highlight some of my favorites—like this recent #RunToFlipChallenge track by New York-based E-Conomy.

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