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Using the Cajon Drum for Hip Hop


The Cajon drum is quite a remarkable percussion instrument for use in the hip-hop music industry. Its use has become so profound that one can say it has become one of those instruments that are necessary for the production of hip-hop. Before we divulge into the Cajon drums and the hip-hop music industry, we have to do a quick recap of our knowledge of the instrument.


What is the Cajon Drum?

The Cajon drum is a percussion instrument that has a box-like shape, looking more like a coffee box. It is a traditional instrument that originated in Peru and is played by striking the faces of the drum. The front and rear faces are the ones usually being struck, although, the percussionist can hit the sides for added effects and tones. The faces are often made with thin wood plywood and are played using the fingers, hands and sticks of different forms such as the mallet, brush or conventional drumsticks.

The Cajon drum is used popularly in Afro-Peruvian music, and other contemporary styles of music such as in flamenco, latin music and host of others. The Cajon drum is made out of thin wood sheets that are about 0.5 to 0.75 inches thick on the five sides of the box. The sixth side or face, known as the batter head, is made from a thinner form of wood attached to the rest to form the box shape. The batter head is traditionally known as the ‘tapa’ by the traditional folk. Its sounds can be controlled, and one way of doing that is by cutting a circular hole at the back of the box opposite the ‘tapa’.

The versatility of the Cajon drum is one to reckon with, and one can but wonder if there are limits to its use in the music industry. When it comes to picking the right model there is plenty of choice on the market that’s why one can get confused, no worries though this article from CGuide will help you clear things out.


Is the Cajon Drum Suitable for Hip Hop music use?

The question is often raised by folk who think a conventional drum kit cannot be replaced. Sorry to surprise you, but the answer is nothing but yes. The Cajon drum is good for hip-hop music and is a perfect combination of the essential parts of the conventional drum kit. Some variants of the Cajon drum come with snare drum fitted into the box and made from tensioned guitar strings. It offers flexibility and acrobatics in sound production that enables you to produce a wide variety of sounds such as the deep boom that bass drum produces or the pseudo-snare sound. All of these features make the Cajon drum a summarized conventional drum kit.

Performances of public percussionists on roadsides with the Cajon drum are usually melodious and rhythmic, and making live recordings in the open with a low-quality microphone would produce something different from what you heard. The reason is that playing the instrument in the open would cause a lot of sounds to be lost to the atmosphere. So it is therefore expedient that one uses the right equipment to record the instrument.

 The Cajon drum is often used in rap-offs and freestyles on the street, although the use of beatboxing or a mini set up by a DJ in these events is common. The Cajon drum has the mixture of the sounds that are required for a standard trap beat used in rap. The thud and boom of its low-end sound are comparable to that of a bass drum of the conventional drum kit, and it is often used as a substitute bass drum in some gigs which do not require too many equipment. The front surface of the Cajon drum is often manipulated to produce diverse sounds like the cross sticking, rim shots, and even a similitude to the sound of a snare drum.

In some cases, the Cajon drum is used in the studio for recordings sessions, and this would require a lot of skill and practice to perfect. However, the most critical aspect is having a good knowledge of the instrument. Understanding an instrument enables you to produce the required sounds that one would expect from that instrument, due to your understanding of the natural sound of the instrument, tuning and how edited sounds are supposed to sound.

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