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Best Rap VSTs: Break the Mold and Add an Edge

Want to jump straight to the answer? Our choice for the Best Rap VST is Serum from Xfer!

Coming up with creative orders and synchronizations for a beat can honestly be the easy part sometimes. The real challenge for a lot of producers is when you have to select a virtual instrument for their sounds. It is easier once you have had more experience with different plugins and sounds and know what it is you are looking for, but when you are just beginning it is much more difficult. That is why we put together this list of the best Rap VSTs for creating beats and sounds for your tracks. 

Quicklook: Best Rap VSTs

  1. Serum – Xfer
  2. Arcade – Output
  3. Nepheton – D16 Group
  4. Punchbox – D16 Group
  5. Massive – Native Instruments
  6. Retro Hit – Beat Skillz

What To Look For When Choosing a Rap VST

When you are looking for a Rap VST, you need to know what kind of beats you are wanting to make. Do you want tools that will be used as a sequencer, do you want to create everything with synths, do you want to use a lot of pads, the possibilities are endless. Rap isn’t going away as a genre any time soon, and it is ever-evolving as a genre as a whole. 

Pricing

The more you want a plugin to do well, the more expensive it is going to be. Luckily, none of the rap VSTs in this list surpass $200. If you play your cards right, you will make that money back with the beats you sell. 

Compatibility – System Requirements

Most of the plugins listed below don’t require anything special from a computer. Most computers come with at least 8 to 16 gigs of Ram to work with and are fairly well updated. That being said, the more powerful your computer, the better everything will run as a whole. 

DAW Compatibility

Working with plugins, you will come across ones that are not compatible with your DAW occasionally. But that is very rare. In all of the years I have used Pro Tools, I only ever found one that wasn’t compatible with it, and even then, it worked with Logic Pro and other popular DAWs. 

Frequency of Use

Each of these plugins can be used over and over again. It’s not like a sample or anything that you can only use once without it being recognized. These plugins are full of hundreds, if not thousands, of sound combinations that can lead to countless creative beats and tracks for you to sell. 

Skill Level

As with any skill, it takes practice and dedication to grow as a beat maker and when using plugins. We have a selection of some easy to use plugins and some more in depth plugins that take some learning. No matter what your skill level is, you’ll be able to use this list. 

Jump to:

6 Best Rap VSTs

1. Serum – Xfer

Xfer Serum
Serum – Xfer

When it comes to a well-based synth that has endless possibilities when it comes to sounds, Serum is the way to go. It is almost impossible to hear any rap song that doesn’t contain some sort of synth or sound that can be produced by synths.

Check out our review of Serum here!

Learning how Serum works can be super easy, especially with all of the presets. When you first download Serum, you get over 400 presets that will show you what can be done with this virtual instrument. And that is before you even start looking for additional presets to download!

Best for: Synth and Original Sounds

Price:

DAW Support: All popular DAWs supported, works well with Studio One

System Requirements: macOS and Windows

MacWindows
Memory4 GB RAM
8 GB recommended 
4 GB RAM
8 GB recommended 
Operating System10.7 – 10.14Windows 7, 8, or 10

2. Arcade – Output

Output Arcade
Arcade – Output

As an all-in-one location for Output’s virtual instruments, Arcade is the perfect hub for your sessions. With their small subscription fee, you get access to a multitude of sounds across multiple instruments, and new instruments are always in the works.

It is full of tools to work with and manipulate samples. Don’t just take our word for it. Hit-boy who has produced for Beyonce, Travis Scott, and Juice World said, “If I would have had this when I was maybe 20, I’d probably be a billionaire right now.”

Best for: All in One Beat Making Machine

Price: Available as Subscription – $10/month

DAW Support: All popular DAWs supported, works well with Pro Tools

System Requirements: macOS and Windows

MacWindows
Memory8 GB RAM
16 GB recommended 
8 GB RAM
16 GB recommended 
Operating System10.12+Windows 7+ (64 bit)

3. Nepheton – D16 Group

D16 Group Nepheton
Nepheton – D16 Group

Nepheton is the virtual emulation (and improvement) on the Roland TR-808. It is full of classic sounds and tools that have been used in beats for decades. All 17 instruments fully adjustable in their parameters and you have controls to randomize and create unique patterns for these sounds. 

Check out our review of Nepheton here!

Like any other plugin from D16 Group, you get an amazing sound at a low price. Any other emulator of the Roland TR-808 that even comes close to this is going to cost you more, and none of them have the same features as Nepheton. 

Best for: Old School meets New Sounds Beatmaking

Price: $109

DAW Support: All popular DAWs supported, works well with Reaper

System Requirements: macOS and Windows

MacWindows
Memory4 GB RAM8 GB recommended 4 GB RAM8 GB recommended 
Operating System10.7 or laterWindows 7, 8, or 10

4. Punchbox – D16 Group

D16 Group Punchbox
Punchbox – D16 Group

Here is another amazing virtual instrument from D16 Group. Especially in the realm of electronic music, rap, and hip hop, they have some of the best plugins. Punchbox creates the perfect kick that can vary in 5 different types of sounds.

Learn more about Punchbox with our review here!

You are given a fully customizable signal chain that can create amazing results. You aren’t even stuck just with the sounds in the plugin itself. You have the option to even import your own kick sounds.

Best for: Sub Bass and Kick 

Price: 

DAW Support: All popular DAWs supported, works well with Reason

System Requirements: macOS and Windows

MacWindows
Memory4 GB RAM
8 GB recommended 
4 GB RAM
8 GB recommended 
Operating System10.7 – 10.14Windows 7, 8, or 10

5. Massive – Native Instruments

Native Instruments Massive
Massive – Native Instruments

This is another synthesizer that is absolutely perfect in the world of rap and hip hop. Characterized by its amazing low-end sound, Massive adds amazing pads, basslines, leads, and anything else you could use a synth for. 

Native Instruments is known for creating some of the best virtual instruments on the market, and Massive is one that sticks out even among their other achievements. The raw depth that can be added with this plugin is perfect for any moody track. 

Best for: Adding Depth to a Beat

Price: $149.00

DAW Support: All popular DAWs supported, works well with FL Studio

System Requirements: macOS and Windows

MacWindows
Memory4 GB RAM
8 GB recommended 
4 GB RAM
8 GB recommended 
Operating System10.12, 10.13, 10.14, or 10.15Windows 7, 8, 10

6. Retro Hit – Beat Skillz

Beat Skillz Retro Hit
Retro Hit – Beat Skillz

Here is another beat creator that you can use to get some top-notch beats that will improve your sounds. There are literally hundreds of sounds to work with. Think of this almost as a toned-down version of the Nepheton, without the built-in sequencer.

You have controls for pitch, volume, release, and reverb effects for each of the tracks right next to the preset selection. Each sample that you hear in this plugin was recorded from vintage drum machines for the best possible accuracy.

Best for: Vintage Samples

Price: $59.00

DAW Support: All popular DAWs supported, works well with Logic

System Requirements: macOS and Windows

MacWindows
Memory2 GB RAM2 GB RAM
Operating System10.13.6Windows 10

Start with what Feels Natural

Creating beats and rapping takes practice. You are gonna have to start making some basic beats before you can really start to grow into the more intricate and difficult styles. As you grow in your abilities it will come more naturally to you and you’ll push yourself to create better and better beats. Just be careful not to focus on one forever, you can only polish one up for so long before you will start to get discouraged. Try setting a goal of allotting only one week to a beat before you move on to another. This will help you to train yourself to create new products to put out on the market faster and help you to meet deadlines.

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