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Hip Hop Underground | Sound On Sound Magazine

Reviewer: Stereo Mike | Rating: 4 Stars Back to Hip Hop Underground product details

Ueberschall claim Hip Hop Underground is 'the word's finest Hip Hop library'. That's rather a bold statement to make on the DVD cover, but the scope of the library goes some way towards justifying such a claim. It contains an impressive 2.2GB of data comprising 140 construction kits, respective single hits and hundreds of additional drum samples. Ueberschall's Elastik loop player is also included, and is the primary way of accessing the samples.
SampleShop HipHop.s

Installation of the Elastik Engine is pretty straightforward. Activating the two 'soundbanks' requires a 'challenge & response' process that takes the user through Ueberschall's web site. Following the prompt email response and authorisation, Elastik can run as stand-alone software or within a sequencer. It offers basic editing options, sample playback and synchronisation to the host programme, but the highlights are the flexible time-stretching algorithms, effective keyboard mapping and the 'Loopeye' display, offering speedy processing, modification and intuitive graphical representation respectively.

On loading and playing back the 'construction kits', my initial sonic impressions were somewhat mixed. Many of the 'full mix' loops sound slightly 'crunched' - probably the result of aggressive mastering. This is less noticeable on individual loops, where the same headroom is taken up by sparser content, and sounds perfectly fine on single elements. Musically speaking, the ideas are predominantly focused on the darker/experimental side of hip-hop, rather than the contemporary crossover aesthetic (more C-Rayz Walz, or early Mobb Deep, than 50 Cent or Chamillionaire). 'Construction singles' are also provided in separate folders (still following the helpful naming scheme) but these are limited to just drum and percussion hits.

The sound quality of the construction kits and singles is professional enough, but there seems to be an overall lack of analogue depth, implying an 'inside-the-box' production approach. Though this might be limiting for users looking to bring distinct analogue character to their own computer productions, the picture is very different when it comes to the 'drum and percussion singles' samples. These are impressive in sonic depth, punch and sample variation. In fact, this extensive set is arguably the hip-hop producer's ultimate resource for single drum hits, covering everything from 'classic' to 'new school', 'dirty' to 'clean' and 'natural' to 'electro' in kicks, snares, claps, hi-hats, rides, shakers and crash cymbals.

It is no secret that hip-hop producers will entertain the notion of using drum hits within drum machines or software samplers and Ueberschall have usefully provided a 'bouncing' option from within the Elastik loop player, thus opening up the content to unlimited use. Hip Hop Underground is a useful tool for the contemporary urban producer, especially because of the quality of the extra drum samples. The main construction kits might not provide the necessary chart-topping hooks, but seamless looping and playback functionality will certainly spark some creativity. Stereo Mike

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