By Nate Ashcroft of Evolver.fm.
Hip hop fans and artists are constantly searching for the newest ways to discover, write, see, and record new music. As we continue to move forward in the digital age, smartphones and tablets are the means of choice for a lot of that.
These six apps should probably find a home on every hip hop fan’s phone (hopefully, we’ll see some more Android compatibility on this list soon):
DJ Funkmaster Flex is one of the most popular radio DJs spinning at New York City’s Hot 97 radio station; this app (made with TopFan) is where he puts new tracks, mixtapes, and radio mixes, all available for free. With so much hip hop music released every day, much of it for free, often times it can be difficult to keep up. The DJ Funk Flex is conveniently laid out for easy browsing, and it updates daily.
It’s not just music, either — it also delivers newly-released videos and hip hop news. The app creates a community around the music and everything else, as you and other users can comment on specific songs or in the general Wall area.
Genius by RapGenius (Free, iOS)
Genius should be your primary source for rap lyrics, flat out. Like the above app, it updates daily, and it also contains the lyrics to virtually every hip hop song, but that’s just the beginning. It also contains annotations, descriptions, and opinions of the lyrics you won’t find anywhere else, written in a line-by-line format. It’s helpful for those who sometimes get confused by the wordplay in the music, or who want to share their take on what a particular line might mean.
The audio fingerprinting feature that accompany can negate the need for apps like Shazam as well — and not only do you get to identify the song, but you can learn all about what it means, right there on the spot.
Who Sampled? ($3, iOS)
Say you’re listening to a brand new song. As soon as the beat drops, there’s a small sample that you just can’t pinpoint. The Who Sampled?app comes to your rescue — just search by artist or track name to check the samples they used and other songs that sample what you searched for. Or, explore uncharted territory, discovering samples you didn’t even know you knew.
Although you have to pay for the app, and could just use the website for free instead, there are no advertisements in the app, and it comes with you wherever you go. Our advice: try the web version first, and you should soon know whether it’s worth your three bucks in mobile form.
Auto Rap by Smule (Free, iOS & Android)
Autotune seemed to take over the pop music scene for a while there, during which Smule created an app to autotune your own voice. This new app from Smule turns your spoken words into rap, by analyzing what you said and chopping them up to fit to the beat correctly. Then, it plays the song back to you, laid on top of whichever beat you choose.
Yes, you can sing, rap, or even talk into the app, and can literally “auto rap” it. Even if you’re an actual rapper, this could be fun to play around with.
Jukely (Free, iOS)
Jukely is a social discovery app for concerts. They post concerts that are upcoming in your area and connects you with other users that like the artist or have bought tickets. Unlike most of the popular live music apps, this one can filter everything for a given city or cities by genre, meaning that you can get just the hip hop stuff, if that’s all you want to see.
As you use the app and buy tickets through it, you earn rewards points that can eventually be used for free or discounted tickets. Unfortunately Jukely has only rolled out in 10 cities so far, but hopefully it will reach more soon. So far, it’s in Austin, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Portland, and Seattle.
Rap to Beats (Free, iOS)
As its name implies, Rap to Beats lets you write and record raps over pre-made beats. It will then save the recordings you like, so you can share it or store it for later. Recording on an iPhone’s microphone will not leave you with the best-possible-sounding recording in the world, but you can buy any number of microphone attachments that plug into your iPhone to the increase sound quality of your Rap to Beats (or any other rapping) creations.
Stay tuned for more music app news, reviews, and analysis.
(Top photo courtesy of Flickr/chealseaaf)