In this short interview, recorded at the NAMM Show 2012, Drake’s producer Noah “40” Shebib is talking about his favorite beat production equipment.

You may be surprised how little equipment the Grammy Award winning producer uses to craft hits for the worlds biggest rap stars.

Equipment Advice From a Master

At 3:27 minutes the interview’s getting really interesting. This is when 40 points out two things that could be a real game changer for your beat production.

  1. Be a master of your domain and work with what you have!
  2. All you need is a laptop and a pair of headphones!

STOP…! Read again!

Ok. So…no mention of what software or hardware will make you crank out beat after beat with hardly any effort. No “how to make your beats bang like an atomic bomb even with the volume set to 1” advice.

How on Earth Can That be a Game Changer?

Mhhhh…let me ask you a question. Have you ever been spending time in researching new plugins or hardware? Despite having a working beat making setup? Instead of being productive and producing beats?

Have you ever found yourself in a scenario like the following:

You just got yourself a new beat making tool. You spend a little time playing around with it. You really like it. You should produce a beat using that new tool.

But THEN there’s this new VST people in forums, magazines and blogs rave about! A real game changing plugin! Something you don’t have yet in your arsenal!

You start reading more about it, watch a review on YouTube, follow a discussion in your favorite forum….BUT then, at the end of the day….

No beat produced. No skill perfected. All the ideas that popped up in your brain…gone.

Productivity is King

If you (like me) are familiar with that kind of scenario, 40s advice could be a real game changer for you. If you follow it, your focus will be on making beats, being productive and perfecting your skills.

And Productivity is what makes you better over time. Spending a lot of time researching the next big VST will not.

Less Options = More Focus = More Output

Dr. Dre in 2011 -by Commondr3ads (own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Dre in 2011 – by Commondr3ads

Think of the legendary hip hop producers from the 90s and early 2000s. Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, J Dilla and all the other big name producers that wrote music history with their epic beats.

Their main beat production tool was the MPC. It used to be the industry standard for about two decades. MPCs didn’t have a ton of features and you couldn’t load any plug in.

But these guys became masters of their domain. They produced beat after beat with their MPCs. No distraction by a new must have gizmo every week.

(Of course these guys would work in big studios with hardware worth millions. But only after they became super successful.)

Know Your Equipment by Heart

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to glorify production techniques of the past. I just want you to think about how little equipment you actually need to make great beats.

A laptop and a pair of headphones, the DAW of your choice and some good sounds is all you need.

Use what you have until you know it by heart so you can make beats like you drive a car. You don’t think about driving the car while you drive. You think about your destination.

As soon you know your beat making equipment by heart you stop thinking about it while producing beats. You focus on the beat you produce. You focus on it’s sound and it’s arrangement. You focus on it’s energy.

Are You Ready to Make a Shift?

If that stuff does make sense to you, give it a serious try. Stay away from new plugins for ONE MONTH so you can fully concentrate on creating more beats and getting better in your beat making game.

Most people aren’t willing to make a shift. Because that means effort.

If you are one of the people who don’t shy away from making an effort this is good news. It makes it easier for you to stand out from the crowd.

Bookmark the video and watch it whenever you find yourself suffering from bright shiny new gizmo syndrome;-)

Become a master at your domain and work with what you have!

P.S.: Although 40 uses Pro Tools for good reasons, doesn’t mean you have to. Pro Tools is a great DAW and it’s found in every major studio around the world. So if you work in those studios and want to be compatible, it’s a good idea to use Pro Tools.

If you’re not there yet and own an other DAW, use that one. They are all good. Learn it by heart so you can crank out beats without having to think about your software.

P.P.S.: Damn…this article is way too long! Thanks for reading anyway:-)

What DAW are you using? Ever suffered from bright shiny gizmo syndrome? Leave a comment:-)

6 Responses to Noah “40” Shebib on Beat Production Equipment

  1. sean says:

    I use logic X. I went on a couple month long gizmo syndrome phase. I got pieces of beats done but never really finished. I find myself getting distracted often because instead of just making beats, I also sing and write. Mixing the process often gets me confused and I get off track. After reading this article, I realize I just need to crank beats out, stay focused, and really learn all of the plugins that I have. I use far too many presets.

    • Marc K. says:

      Hey Sean,
      I’m glad to hear, the video gave you some inspiration. With your plugins, just take some time to play around with them. It’s the best way to know them and to see which ones YOU like best – as opposed to what others say you should use.
      BTW it’s VERY rewarding to create your own sounds:-)

      Have fun and be creative!

  2. hotel arizona says:

    what are the ” expand & hybrid ” programs hes talking about ?

  3. Tristen Ochoa says:

    Is there any softwares you recommend to not use? Maybe they’re are others out there that do a lot more for the same price or are just an overall better experience.

    • Marc K. says:

      No, there really is no software I would recommend not to use. Maybe Sonic Producer, Dr. Drum Beatmaker, Dubturbo. In the end, which music production software you use comes down to a matter of taste. I like and use Ableton and Pro Tools. I know people who don’t like neither of them. There is no wrong or right. It all depends on your budget, needs, workflow and most importantly, what inspires you. Too many options can be confusing. Too little may limit your creativity. Just pick a software that feels good to you and go with it. You may change your preferences over time anyway. Don’t overthink it. You can make great music with all of them.

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