Each of the two libraries has over 1 GB of sample loops (a little over 450 MB, repeated in multiple formats) on DVD-ROM housed in a standard DVD case. 16-bit loops in WAV, Rex and Apple Loops (the latter usable as AIFF files without the metadata). With all these formats represented, these libraries are compatible with most DAW programs and samplers (hard or soft) on the market, including: Apple Logic and GarageBand, Sony ACID, Propellerhead Reason, Ableton Live, and many more.
Royalties and Licensing
Like most sample-based libraries, the content on each DVD is licensed, not sold, to the end user. When buying one of these libraries you are purchasing the license to use the loops in your music, but you do not own the actual loops themselves. You may not resell or repackage the content in anyway. This is all pretty standard language.
Each library contains approximately 300 hip-hop style loops (repeated in the different formats) as well as demo songs and one-shot samples. A library will have up to 20 numbered folders dedicated to a groove and/or song sample. These folders are labeled simply with the BPM, Key and Scale, for example: 11 094 G#min. There is also an extra folder of standalone beats and a bonus folder dedicated to single drum hits (H.H. High) or old-school stabs (H.H. Philosophy). There's no printed documentation or booklets; each DVD has a .pdf file with technical info and licensing.
Both libraries follow the same organizational scheme, making them intuitive to use. Using the demo songs in the folders you can get ideas quickly and choose loops best suited for your own projects. These libraries have a clean "produced" digital sound. Audiophiles may notice that the loops are only 16 bit, but this never stood out as a sonic hindrance, and ensures a backward compatibility for those with less powerful computers. I tried the WAV files in both Sony ACID and Ableton Live and had no problems throwing a groove down in either application. Unfortunately, the Wav files do not contain any Acidized metadata, so it takes a bit of time and tweaking to optimize them for use in the ACID program.
In a Rex/slice-based program such as Reason, the combinations are endless as you can re-arrange and tweak out new grooves for days. As with most loop-based libraries, you have about a 10-15 BPM leeway above and below the stated BPM before audible artifacting occurs.
Stylewise, these libraries lean towards the candied, old-school sound of Hip Hop (late '80s-early '90s). There are no "hard core beats" here, just smooth funky riffs and synth based jams. Hip-Hop High's focus sounds more rooted in R&B, with dry analog-style synth textures and drum-machine grooves, while Hip-Hop Philosophy bounces around between a '90s smooth/acid jazz vibe to some light dub'ish textures. The synth tones on this library are more effected and invoke memories of Casio CZ-era synths. The "31 flavors" folder on the Hip-Hop Philosophy library is the hidden gem of both collections, with strange low-fi, vinyl scratchy music riffs that are mysterious and deep. (Reviewer's plea: Hey, Big Fish, how about a full library of these?)
Both Hip-Hop High and Hip-Hop Philosophy have a distinct sound compared to many other hip-hop sample CDs on the market. I may not recommend them as your first and only Hip-Hop collections, but if you already have a bunch of "Funky drummer" wanna-be libraries, these may give you some unique and unexpected flavor. Stop by Big Fish's web site and sample for yourself.