Beat Tapes are huge part of music production especially for a genre like Hiphop.
A Beat Tape is essentially a compilation of beats put together by a music producer. They usually consist of unfinished beats, beats that didn’t get placed, short beats and other beats that may just be dedicated to be part of the compilation. Beat Tapes are released to usually showcase the talent of the producer and may in other cases be released to act as demo’s that give the listener a good idea of the production style of a producer.
Beat tapes essentially serve the same function that a “mixtape” does.
History of Beat Tapes
It is pretty difficult to trace when the culture of beat Tapes became a thing.
But most producers and people that were around in the old days say it may have been birthday around the 80s when Hiphop music became more prominent in cities like NewYork.
Beat Tapes were a way for DJs and producers to showcase their work. They created demos in the form of beat tapes which consisted of short beats and this is because they weren’t meant to be released to the public.
In the old days, beat Tapes were released on vinyl and were passed around for Emcees to practice and possibly record on.
How long should a beat tape be?
The length of a beat tape really depends on how many beats a producer is willing to compile together to form a compilation.
In most cases Beat Tapes are generally very short and may consist of only 10 beats or less. They are not meant to be an official release but a simple short compilation of beats that may be the same length a demo would be.
They may be much longer when the beats are short in duration. Producers may sometimes limit the beats to only a minute, in order to capture the attention of the listener quickly before moving on to the next beat.
Furthermore, having beats only last a minute or less allows the producer to have a lot more beats on the beat tape in order for them to show how versatile they can be.
Therefore a good number of beats for a beat tape with beats that are over a minute long would be not more than 10 tracks.
If the beats are under a minute however, you can have as many as 20 tracks.
Is A Beat Tape An EP?
A beat tape is not an EP because it doesn’t not stem from an album.
EP stands for extended play which consists of songs that didn’t make an album but were meant to be on the album.
A beat tape consists of various instrumentals that are put together to form a full body of work released as a mixtape would. The misconception usually arises because most beat Tapes are mostly of equal length as EPs.
In the real sense, they are not EPs.
What is a beat tape usually composed of?
It is very common to find a lot of unfinished instrumentals on beat tapes because of their “demo-like” nature and the less formality that comes with them.
Therefore a beat tape can be simply your compilation of beats that you just didn’t have the time to finish or simply didn’t want to finish.
So long as they can show your skills and talent, having them on a beat tape is a good way to go.
Most producers may even see to it that they partly finish some these unfinished beats.
Beat Tapes serve different functions for music producers.
For some, a beat tape can be a great way to release unfinished beats that may never get finished and for others it may be a great way to release beats that couldn’t get placed by any artists.
Any producer will have some beats that seem to never really go anywhere even though they’ve been sent or played for various artists.
If the producer thinks they are good enough, they can simply gather them up, package them and release them as a beat tape compilation.
This can be a great way to reach a lot of more peoples ears and basically get them to listen to any beats that you think are actually worth listening to.
The length of beats on a beat tape is usually short and this is because the tracks are not meant to be perceived as full project music.
They’ll usually not last more than 2 minutes and this is to ensure that peoples attention span doesn’t flee while their listening to music with no lyrics on it.
Furthermore, they are meant to be a demonstration of the abilities of the producers which means they don’t have to be really long to get the point across.
The most notable HipHop beat tape.
The most notable Beat Tape in hiphop history is by J Dilla and is called “Donuts”.
This beat tape was released formally as an instrumental album in 2006. It contained 31 tracks that featured short phrases and gasps that were sampled from various records.
Most of the beats on this project were short usually ranging between a minute and 1 and a half minutes.
During the original press release, the album was compared to what if felt like when different radio stations were scanned because of its variety of beats.
The track list is also quite unusual because it starts with an outro and ends with an intro.