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Best VST for Hip Hop

Hip-Hop has always been a genre of music that is influenced by the latest trends in music technology. 

Originating from the new compositional technique of sampling, this genre is still as popular today as it has ever been.

Many hip-hop artists use a purely or mostly digital workflow, choosing to work mostly in the DAW with plugins, rather than using real instruments or hardware. 

Even the biggest names in Hip-Hop including Jay-Z, Eminem, Drake, and Kanye West have been known to use some of the plugins on this list. 

We’ve been making beats trying to find the best vst plugins on the market. 

The core sound elements of hip-hop production are Drums, Bass, Vocals, Samples. 

These are the 4 pillars of hip hop music production, paired with the sound design and tonal mix qualities. 
The plugins below will provide all the tools and sounds needed to make hip-hop beats.

Also, check out our post about the best VST Drums!

We’ve put together this list exploring the best hip hop vst plugins on the market

I tested 14 products and found Kontakt to be the best hip-hop beats and instrumentals.

If a hop hop producer could only buy one plugin, it should be Kontakt.

It’s a super-powered sampler, a type of instrument which is core to hip hop. The sound design and beat-making elements are endless in this plugin!
Not only is Kontakt great for sampling, but it also provides a huge amount of external expansions, which bundle professionally recorded and curated samples into themed packs. 

This can be anything from comprehensive instrument sampling such as pianos, strings, drums, to new abstract instruments.

Kontakt is relatively expensive and will be out of some people’s budgets.

Fortunately, there is a free version “Kontakt player”, which has fewer features but is still a powerful tool for beat making.

Keep reading for our full lineup of the best beat-making plugins in the game!

Best VST for Hip Hop in Our Tests

15 Best VST for Hip Hop Reviewed in Detail

  1. Kontakt £359
  2. Serum $189
  3. Eastwest Libraries $19.99/mo
  4. Addictive Drums Complete: $700
  5. XLN RC-20 Retro Colour €99.95
  6. Brainworx Shadow Hills Mastering Comp $299
  7. Ozone 9 Elements: $129 /Standard: $249 /Advanced: $499.
  8. Izotope Trash 2 – $99
  9. Spectrasonics Omnisphere $499
  10. Izotope Vinyl – FREE!
  11. Decimort 2 – £45
  12. Audiothing Vinyl Strip – € 59
  13. Native Instruments Maschine £200 – £500+
  14. Sektor – £111

15 Best VST for Hip Hop Reviewed in Detail

#1 Kontakt

Kontakt

Kontakt is a powerful sampling plugin and platform that no hip-hop producer should go without. It’s actually used by many famous artists and studios.
Whether creating sounds from scratch or working with samples and existing libraries, Kontakt is a valuable tool that is perfect for hip hop.
The massive quantity of expansion packs means that you’ll never be stuck trying to find a sound, producing music becomes a breeze. There are tonnes of Kontakt libraries designed for hip-hop production, including drums, bass, keys, and other iconic and classic sounds from the genre.
The plugin is easy to use and boasts tonnes of built-in effects and tools, the interface is really simple and I promise you’ll find yourself using this on almost every beat you create.

Product Specifications

  • macOS 10.13, 10.14, 10.15 or 11 (latest update), i5. Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10 (latest Service Pack), Intel Core i5, or equivalent CPU
  • 4 GB RAM (6 GB recommended for large KONTAKT Instruments)
  • Host Daw: Logic, Ableton, Pro Tools, Reaper, FL Studio, Reason & more.

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • Sampling Powerhouse
  • Huge Flexibility
  • External Expansion Libraries
  • Expensive
  • Hard drive space

Conclusion

A sampling powerhouse that expands a producer’s tools beyond the sampling capabilities of their DAW’s native gear.

Approved by many producers, this is easily one of the best plugins around, not only for hip hop! It can take any sound, and mix it up into a completely new vibe, isn’t that the ethos of hip hop? There is also a huge variety of expansion available.

#2 Serum

Serum

Serum is a wavetable synthesizer perfect for creating hip hop and basslines, chords, pads, and leads. Seru has been used and loved by music producers for years, from all kinds of genre backgrounds.One nifty feature is Serum’s ability to import any custom audio file, this means it can be used to resynthesize your samples and recorded sounds.
Serum packs a huge quantity of great presets for quick inspiration.

The sub-oscillator makes some perfect fat basslines.

Product Specifications

  • Available as VST, AU, AAX 64bit.
  • Windows: Windows 7 SP1 or later.
  • Macintosh: macOS 10.11 or later.

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • Synth with Sampler
  • Flexible interface
  • Light on CPU

Conclusion

This is a powerful virtual instrument for creating iconic synth sounds for your new hip-hop beats. This is a plugin that should be in every serious music producer’s studio.

 It sounds fantastic, it’s easy to use, innovatively designed and at a good price, what more can you ask for?

Hey producers!
Looking for fresh new sounds?
You’ll find a bunch in our sample pack marketplace.

#3 Eastwest Libraries

Eastwest Libraries

The East-West libraries are a great tool for hip-hop producers. Most producers may find the purchase price tag too high, but thankfully EW offers a subscription model to access their samples. 

The Composer Cloud starts at $19.99/mo and provides all their top-quality sample libraries and instruments.

The catalog contains pretty much every instrument and sound under the sun, so the inspiration won’t dry out any time soon. 
Many of the instrumental packs work great for the genre, but we think hip hop and trap music producers will have a strong interest in the vocal packs. 

These lend themself to the genre and can be edited and manipulated to create interesting lead hooks and rap chops.

Product Specifications

  • Intel Dual-Core i5 2.7 GHz or above.
  • Mac OS 10.7 or later.
  • Windows 7 or later.
Eastwest Libraries specifications

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • Huge sound libraries
  • Flexible Controls
  • Subscription Model
  • Large Download side
  • player not as good as Kontakt

Conclusion

This is a broad catalog, so will contain a lot of things that you will never get around to using, but if you want to cherry-pick particular sounds and instruments, the East-West cloud opens up a lot of options for producers, and the quality is superb.

#4 Addictive Drums Complete:

Addictive Drums Complete

A classic, industry-standard drum tool, Addictive Drums is the perfect vst for creating hip-hop beats. 

Boasting professionally recorded acoustic drums in a world-class studio, you can get the sound of an amazing drummer, with the power and flexibility of VST technology.
Addictive Drums bundles in one-shots, MIDI beats, and drum kits, to kickstart rhythmic inspiration or layer in new percussive elements for a punchy sound that will get those heads nodding.

There are drum kits and drum machines for all styles of beats, not just hip-hop, but this fun plugin will make your drum tracks stand above the standard canned sounds that are so common today. 

The step sequencer is useful too and includes more than two filters, which you should take full advantage of in shaping the high frequencies.
The plugin has loads of options for mixing and customizing the sound, individual mic volumes, many distortions, reverb, and delay. This helps to get a unique sound from the plugin.

Product Specifications

  • Standalone, VST, AU, AAX
  • Mac Intel Core 2 Duo or higher, 4GB RAM minimum
  • PC Intel Core 2 Duo / AMD Athlon 64 X2 or higher, 4GB RAM minimum
  • OS X 10.9 or later

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • Top Drum Plugin
  • Huge amount of kits and customization
  • Great drum sounds
  • Limited to drums compared to Kontakt etc

Conclusion

The complete collection has a huge price tag, but individual packs and drum kits can be bought separately from the store.

This makes it the best hip-hop vst for drums, as you can instantly find the perfect drum sound. The drums come with mix-ready tones, but can easily be customized with the provided tools.

#5 XLN RC-20 Retro Colour

XLN RC-20 Retro Colour

This plugin adds the warm and crunchy lo-fi textures that hip hop is known for.
The origins of hip hop involved pretty “crappy” and cheap-sounding music production gear, so the beats often have a lo-fi, saturated sound that isn’t necessarily easy to replicate on a squeaky-clean computer.
That’s why tools like XLN RC-20 are vital for hip-hop producers, as they can add in the saturation, grit, and dirt associated with the genre.

 It’s a mistake that many new producers make, they don’t saturate or color their sounds enough, resulting in a bland sound. This creative effect is perfect for breathing some life into cold, digital tracks. 

The modular design hosts 6 unique FX modules, which can replicate the nostalgic sounds of vinyl records, VHS, and cassette tapes. 

The effects include Noise Generator, Wobble & Flutter, Saturation & Distortion, Degrader & Bitcrusher, Reverb, Volume drops. 

Each effect can be used alone or combined in any way thanks to the modulation matrix.

Product Specifications

  • VST, AU, AAX (32 & 64-bit)
  • Windows 7, 8, 10 (32 & 64-bit)
  • macOS 10.9 or later (32 & 64-bit)

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • Great for saturation and retro color
  • Only saturation

Conclusion

The RC-20 is a gateway to the sounds of the past, bringing back the dust and nostalgia of cheap boomboxes and radios. 

This is a great tool for adding color and distortion to tracks and quickly helps to capture a retro or lo-fi sound that lends itself to hip hop.

#6 Brainworx Shadow Hills Mastering Comp

Brainworx Shadow Hills Mastering Comp

No hip-hop song is finished without compression. 

The genre tends to lean towards an aggressive and punchy master so that the bass and kick drum are slamming, and the snare pops.
The Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor is a legendary hardware unit that has straddled the master buss of many a fine beat. 

The hardware units will set you back around $9000! Which is way out of reach for most of us, fortunately, the talented engineers at Brainworx have meticulously analyzed and modeled the units into a plugin format.
This is easily one of the most well-designed commercially available compressors that are nearly unrivaled in terms of sound quality, interface design, and creative potential.

It has a very rich and smooth sound, with the perfect amount of subtle analog saturation. 

The plugin models every component in the circuit so is very faithful and has an incredibly similar response to the unit. It features 2 channels of dual Opto-VCA compression, with independent gain and threshold controls for each section. 

The plugin version also includes a stereo spread control.

Product Specifications

  • AAX DSP, AAX Native, AU, AAX AudioSuite, VST2, VST3
  • macOS 10.9 through 11.0.1
  • Windows 7 through 10
  • Display resolution: 1440 × 900px or 1280 × 960px or higher
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • World-Class compressor
  • Unique and powerful circuit design.
  • Only a compressor

Conclusion

If you can only afford one compressor, this should be it. It’s unmatched in flexibility and has a beautiful and addictive sound.

Most tracks and beats don’t sound right until they’ve been mastered through this beast.

#7  Ozone 9 Elements

Ozone 9 Elements

Mastering is an essential stage of music production that often gets overlooked, particularly by amateurs and hobbyists. 

Without proper mastering, a beat will not compete with a mastered one, it will sound thin, weak, and quiet in comparison.
Many people don’t understand why or how to master their music, so often this stage is neglected. 

Izotope Ozone is a suite of mastering tools packaged into a comprehensive plugin. The features depend on the edition, but it contains all the tools, processors, and analysis to create professional-quality masters.
The effects can be applied in a modular fashion, so the mastering chain can be customized to suit the track. 

Effects units include Master Rebalance, Equalizer, Maximizer, Reference Match, Tonal Balance Control, Low-End Focus, Imager, Spectral Shaper, Dynamic EQ, Exciter, Dithering, and Dynamics. 

Standard and Advanced editions also contain Vintage Modules, which are perfect for retro hip hop masters, including vintage: tape, limiter, eq, compressor.
Ozone has smart assist features which use artificial intelligence to identify and correct sonic problems, this is super helpful for new producers and time-saving. 

The reference match effect is very powerful, where the mastering settings are automatically tweaked to match the tone of a given reference track.
The Codec Preview is a unique tool for monitoring how the master will sound when compressed to a lossy format like MP3.

Product Specifications

  • AAX, VST 2, VST 3, AU, NKS

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • Perfect tool for mastering
  • AI assistance
  • Limited when compared to buying individual plugins

Conclusion

The full suite has an extended array of modules, many will be too complicated for beginners. This is an efficient plugin that makes mastering a lot easier for most people. 

Using Ozone will make a beat sound a lot better than if it was unmastered, or algorithmically mastered.
Ozone provides all the tools you need to professionally master your tracks and is a worthy hip hop vst purchase for any producer.

#8 Izotope Trash 2

Izotope Trash 2

Another Izotope plugin, Trash 2 is a distortion plugin sure to add some heat to a track!

This is a seriously hot plugin that can be used to sculpt saturation using its huge library of distortion, saturation, and bit crusher algorithms and convolutions.

Product Specifications

  • AAX (64–bit), AU, RTAS (32–bit), VST, VST3
  • Mac: OS X 10.8.5 El Capitan – macOS 11 Big Sur
  • PC: Win XP (32–bit Service Pack 3)–Win 10

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • Distortion / Saturation powerhouse
  • Huge amount of presets
  • Only does saturation

Conclusion

Great for coloring tracks, adding some grunge, warmth, crunch, lo-fi, or dirt to tracks. 

This is one of the best hip hop vst plugins in the saturation field, a super-powered tool for distortion and coloration.

#9 Spectrasonics Omnisphere

Spectrasonics Omnisphere

Product Intro

Ominsphere is a legendary synthesizer and sampler platform which provides endless possibilities for sound designers and music producers. 

It instantly provides a wealth of inspiration and vibe, with award-winning sounds used by the biggest names in the industry.
The design of the synth is massively flexible. The library browser makes it quick and easy to find the exact sound you need, which is important given it comes with over 14000 sounds!

It also packs over 58 FX units for further shaping sounds.

Product Specifications

  • OS X 10.13 High Sierra or higher 
  • Windows 7/8/10
  • 2.4 GHz or higher processor
  • 8GB+ of RAM 
  • 64GB hard drive space

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • Powerful Sample-based synth
  • Go to Synth for sound design
  • Huge library
  • Download Size

Conclusion

This hip-hop vst will be a great purchase for any creative producers and musicians. Omnisphere contains so many classic instruments and sounds it seems rude to ignore it. 

It’s ideal for hip hop music as it contains ideal bass, keys, pads, and lead sounds which can be quickly snapped into a beat and customized to fit.

#10 Izotope Vinyl – FREE!

Izotope Vinyl

This is a free plugin that gives your tracks 100% of that classic vinyl sound with 1% of the effort! This simple and intuitive plugin quickly gives any beat the nostalgic sound of vinyl.
Vinyl is synonymous with hip hop. Turntables, scratching, and record flipping are core elements of the genre. Izotope Vinyl hosts 6 vinyl models from the 1930s to the 2000s, each with a unique, but a very faithful representation of the sound of each eras wax.

Blend in Mechanical and Electrical noise, and customize the level of Dust, Scratch, Warp, Wear, and RPM.
This is a quirky hip-hop vst that nobody should live without. Each parameter can be blended to create a believable vinyl tone. It even has a Spindown mode for those wacka-wacka scratching sounds.

Product Specifications

  • AAX (64–bit), AU, VST2, VST3
  • Mac: macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra – macOS 11 Big Sur
  • PC: Win 8–Win 10

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • Light on CPU
  • Great vinyl Sim
  • Free!

Conclusion

The perfect Lo-Fi weapon for hip hop producers, quickly turns those stale digital-sounding beats into warm and funky retro bangers.
For a free plugin, the sound quality does not disappoint, I would happily pay for this

#11 Decimort 2

Decimort 2

Classic Hip-Hop beats are categorized by their lo-fi, bit-crushed sound. The hardware samplers favored by producers in the day had crunchy gritty conversion circuits and algorithms. The AD/DA processes colored the sound in a particular way that became synonymous with a hip-hop sound.
Decimort 2 recreates this process and gives the tone of a classic vintage sampler. This is a well-featured resampling and bitcrushing tool that creates that nostalgic sound. 

Product Specifications

  • Windows 7, 8 or 10
  • macOS 10.7 and later (macOS 11 Big Sur compatible)
  • CPU: 2.0 GHz SSE (Multicore 2.3 GHz recommended)
  • RAM: 8 GB (16 GB Recommended)

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • Top Tier Bit Crusher
  • Retro Sound
  • processing only

Conclusion

A great plugin for recreating the saturation, tone, and feel of old-school hip-hop tracks. This is a well-priced plugin, it’s limited in that it only colors the sound, but it does one job and it does it well.

#12 Audiothing Vinyl Strip

Audiothing Vinyl Strip

A multi-effect plugin with 6 modules, the AudioThing Vinyl Strip is a “retro-ifier” plugin, that gives tracks the color and sound of vinyl.
The flexible arrangement allows for modules to be moved and arranged in any way, so the signal path can be shaped as needed. The simple drag and drop tool and clean interface make this easy and intuitive to use.
The modules include Distortion, Compression, Bit Crushing, Vinyl Sim, Reverb, and EQ, each with dedicated controls.

Product Specifications

  • VST2, VST3, or AAX, 64-bit host
  • Windows 7, 8, 10 (64 bit)
  • OS X 10.9 – macOS 10.15
  • Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • Flexible coloration tool
  • Limited to effects

Conclusion

The vinyl strip is a modular channel strip that is great for adding vintage color and dust to your hip-hop beats. It’s light on the CPU so can be replicated across many tracks for a cumulative effect.

#13 Native Instruments Maschine

Native Instruments Maschine

Maschine is both a standalone groove box, midi controller, and plugin. The hardware workstation itself is a dream tool for hip hop producers, its pads and knobs working like a modern digital version of classic MPC samplers.

This Drum Machine tool is ideal for making beats and comes packed with kits, one-shot hits, and loops.

Maschine is used by many successful producers and artists and is known to be a kickstart for ideas.

Product Specifications

  • macOS 10.13, 10.14, 10.15, or 11 (latest update), Intel Core i5, 4 GB RAM
  • Windows 10 (latest Service Pack, 64-bit only), Intel Core i5 or equivalent CPU, 4 GB RAM
  • USB 2.0 Port, 9 GB free disk space for MASCHINE software and MASCHINE Library, 33 GB free disk space for KOMPLETE SELECT.

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • huge drum kit library
  • tonnes of loops
  • only bought with hardware

Conclusion

Unfortunately, the Maschine software can’t be bought separately from the hardware. The software license codes are bundled with the units. But any serious hip hop producer should consider investing in a Maschine or similar MPC style hardware controller. They make the process of making beats a lot more hands-on and fun.

#14 Sektor

Sektor

A hybrid wavetable synth with over 200 unique wavetables and 750+ presets, Sektor is a beast of a sound design tool that the instrument-type is as expressive as deep.

The synthesis engine is impressive and fully featured, with 16 voices per oscillator, routable modulation envelopes, ADSR, LFO’s and a huge filter bank.

Product Specifications

  • Windows 7 and above
  • Mac OS 10.8 and above

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • Powerful Synth
  • Tonnes of synths presets

Conclusion

This synthesizer is a valuable tool for hip hop and electronic music producers. It is capable of producing many iconic sounds from basses to pads and leads. For more bass heavy synths, check out Loopmasters Bass Master.

Buying Guide

There are a few important considerations to explore when buying VST plugins.

First, power usage and specifications. Make sure your computer has enough RAM and CPU to run the plugin smoothly. There’s nothing worse than buying and installing a plugin, only to find your computer is too weak.

Depending on the style of plugin, hard drive space can be a large factor. Sample libraries and instrument type VSTs that have a large folder of sounds can take up a lot of hard drive space. Particularly Kontakt and Eastwest libraries. 

Make sure you have enough space on your hard drive or use an external drive or SSD. The advantage of using an external drive is that it will create better performance overall by keeping the internal drive emptier.

FAQ’s

What’s the best VST for trap beats?

Kontakt and Maschine are two of the best plugins for hip hop that are also ideal for making trap beats. Both of them provide access to libraries that are perfect for the genre, often you can find libraries that have been made by famous trap producers. 
Alternatively, Arcade by Output lends itself to trap and beat making.

What are the best free VST plugins for hip hop beats?

Izotope Vinyl is one of the best free plugins for hip hop production. Thanks to its ability to color sounds, and create that nostalgic retro vinyl tone.

Kontakt player and its associated free libraries are also a great free tool for hip hop. It’s a great place to find new samples and layers to mix into a beat. You can use it to edit your own samples.
Loopmasters Bass Master is a great choice for getting bass tones.

What VST do rap producers use?

Antares AutoTune is a very popular plugin in the hip-hop and rap producer community. It has a famous and iconic sound used on many rap vocals. Exaggerated autotuned Pitbull-style vocals can be easily made with this plugin.
Other tuning software like Melodyne is popular for rappers. It is a powerful tool for vocal editing.

What software do most hip-hop producers use for music production?

Ableton Live is used by most hip-hop producers as it works well for sampling, beat flipping, and building custom drum kits. The speed and flexibility it gives to workflow help

Conclusion

Overall the best plugin for hip hop beats would be Kontakt. It is an unstoppable tool with a huge amount of depth and customization. The massive amount of external libraries opens up access to a whole world of sound. Check out the download links on each plugin for more info!
Buy Kontakt from Native Instruments now!