Damn..... Where to start on this subject? I guess I can only speak from my own point of view and experience. When I started making beats I took everyone's drums, why do you ask? The answer is simple....They banged!! In my novice attempt to find open drums and breaks as I was instructed to by my peers who were a bit further along. I became frustrated, Feeling as if no drum from a 60's or 70's soul, funk or R&B record would ever hit hard enough to give me that "Boom Bap" feeling I got from Premo, Dilla, Pete Rock, Dre and many others. Clearly they aren't getting these amazing kicks and snares from Sly and the Family stone breaks?! So I thought.... Once a certain "Friend" of mine was caught by his favorite producer and that favorite producer said... "I see you took my drums man!" we in Low budget vowed to respect the unwritten rule that states "DON'T BITE OTHER PRODUCERS DRUMS". Now we all know that hip-hop pushes boundaries on a song to song basis so are there rules in a genre that thrives off of going against the grain? The answer in my opinion is yes. There are guide lines and techniques in just about all forms of organized anything. It's once you learn those techniques and use them in new ways that true genius arises.
Back to my early producing days...so yeah... I stopped taking other producers drums but I still wanted my drums to hit the same way. This is where the beauty of the human mind comes in to play. From that point on my time was spent trying to find ways to make the drums I acquired from records hit as hard as the records I had loved. I layered drums like Pete Rock, Off set them like Dilla, experimented with new patterns like Timbaland, spent hours EQ'ing like Dre and what was the result? something that sounded like none of the above. Finally after years of attempting to recreate the sound I loved with what I had, I created something new, something that was mine. My attempt to imitate resulted in deviation. The more I deviated the further I moved away from my desired origin and the closer I came to my own sound. Then that magical day came about...a fan at a show said "I Love your drums man, how do you get them to knock like that?" "Wow...did, did...did he just say MY drums?" It was then that I realized that a producers drums are like his finger print.
What DJ would be ok with another DJ playing practically the same set as them, or using the same transitions? What dancer would be ok with watching coreography taken from other performances passed off as an original? What graffiti writer would be ok with another writer biting their whole letter style and color schemes? they'd all be pissed because they all have the unwritten rule of NO BITING. In that constant pursuit of originality comes our greatest work. Simply taking the blue prints of pre-existing work without adding new marks in my opinion is what keeps us stagnant.
When you think about it, what's the biggest part of a hip-hop track that makes it a hip-hop track? before you put the drums on Helen Reddy, Issac hayes, Nina Simone and any one else it's still a track from another genre. It's when you add that Kick and snare in a structured loop, that makes it hip-hop. So the process of sampling, mixing, arranging and eq'ing becomes very personal. If I would have had drum kits available and software that did everything for me at what point would my brain push it's self to the limit to create and find away to translate that into sound? Damn I sound old lets put that in modern context... Don't start in a million dollar pro-tools HD studio, down load that new version of Fruity Loops first and make it work for you! (Shout out to Hudson Mohawke & Mike Slott).
Like most things in life, you appreciate them more when you earn it and less when it's given to you. Allot of what's available on the net is creating a very large double edge sword. On one side you've got everyday people who discover that they have a musical talent and on the other well.....you know what's on the other end. For all of those everyday nerds who discover that they might have what it takes to be a dope producer.... Learn your craft from the inside out and from the bottom up, THEN use the calculator to solve problems you know how to do in your head. Starting off on that calculator makes you lazy and strips away the opportunity to exercise your brain and imagination. (I've just ushered in a shit storm of haters with this one huh?)