Modern hip-hop takes influence from the musical vocabulary and instrumentation from several genres, including EDM, jazz, funk, Latin music and rap songs.
In most cases, the element that mostly portrays these various influences is the bass. Its role is usually to drop a rhythmic and melodic foundation, while the drums these days are mainly tasked with providing the energy and spark.
As a result of the various influences modern hip-hop producers have, a bass line vary from simple and repetitive, to a very difficult unpredictable line, which will dictate the overall feel of the song.
Also, because of the looped phrasing in hip-hop, the bass tends to provide strong melodic content to support the hook, and in some instances, the bass line just is the hook.
Also, if you’re interested to know more about how to harness the intersections between jazz, improvisation, and new gen music like hip-hop in your own music, then the Soundfly’s newest course with pianist and beat producer, Kiefer: Keys, Chords, & Beats will be perfect for you.
Find below our favorite modern hip-hop bass lines.
Kendrick Lamar – “Complexion (A Zulu Love)”
Kendrick Lamar features Steve “Thundercat” Bruner on electric bass. On this track, we have two bass parts; one is the arpeggiating chords and the second bass part is laying down a pulsing bass line. This is of special interest to us because of how the bass is used as a colorful harmonic element and as the foundation of the song at simultaneously.
Kaytranada – “Drive Me Crazy”
The Drive me crazy track is a typical example of how 808 basses can be used in a set that has elements of trap drums combined with punchy EDM synths. More so, the tone of the bass is just in your face and plays a simple part that’s catchy and anchors the groove, so that the moving high synths line can be played on a foundation. The interplay in this track between the heavy bass, punchy drums, and floaty synths creates an infectious groove that makes your head bob instantly.
NxWorries – “Suede”
“Suede” uses a robust and filtered electric bass piece to create a rolling feel that supports the laid back drums and the keys groove. The crunchy sound of the choppy bass on this piece creates a sweet vibe that falls between live band performance and hip-hop. The swagger and uncertainty of the drums and bass on this track are so infectious.
Rapsody – “Pay Up”
“Pay Up” is similar to “Complexion” beacuse it shows a combination of bass instruments. But, in “Pay Up,” a Fender Rhodes Bass is used with a synth bass to play the bass line in vital sections to create a momentum. The funky vibe of this song is defined by the interplay of the bass instruments, joined with the Rapsody’s rhythmic flow and instrumentation.
Anderson .Paak – “Tints”
“Tints” is a good of example of hip-hop joined with retro soul — the Moog synth bass. It reminds me of Stevie Wonder’s music. The funky bass line together with the simple drum groove drives the track forward. Also, the bass sounds wider in the chorus as a result of a bit of chorus effect and this makes the bass line sound better than life.