18 Gifts for the Aspiring SoundCloud Rapper

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So, you know someone interested in SoundCloud Rap. Maybe it’s your son, daughter, niece, or nephew. Maybe it’s a little brother or sister. Whoever it is, your little buddy—or “Lil’ Bud” for short—is showing all the signs of SoundCloud mania: they’re dying their hair a new color every day, and they’re holding a tattoo gun up to their face as you read this.

You won’t let them ink up their cheek, of course. But you will encourage creativity wherever it may be found. Thus, you’d like to buy them a gift to facilitate their dream of making paper and chasing clout. With this in mind, let’s go over some good gifts for Lil’ Bud.

Music Production Software

Music Production Software

Your Lil’ Bud, if more enterprising than the common beat-thief, will need a method of producing material. They presumably have a computer; they just need software to make music on this computer. This means a DAW—a digital audio workstation. You want something more advanced than Apple’s GarageBand, yet still within a budget. Indeed, many DAWs can be very expensive. They can also be focused for enterprises other than SoundCloud rap. So, we’d like to point you to two different options perfectly tailored to your needs.

The first is Ableton Live Intro. For a wallet-friendly price, Ableton Live Intro offers a forward-thinking way for fashioning beats, playing chords, and implementing studio-quality effects. This iteration of Ableton Live provides all the same features of the more advanced versions, but it kneecaps you with limited audio tracks, fewer MIDI tracks, and pared-down effects. Still, you get all the functionality of a production workhorse preferred by many in the SoundCloud community, which makes the Intro edition perfectly suited for those just getting into the game.

Ableton Live 10 Intro
Ableton Live 10 Intro

FL Studio is another DAW that’s very popular in this area—and has been ever since it was known by its original name, Fruity Loops. Yea verily, before there was SoundCloud Rap, back in the days when hip-hop was distributed in physical media (and true north was uphill in both directions), people loved to use Fruity Loops to make fantastic productions.

Named for the 20th anniversary of Fruity Loops, Image-Line FL Studio 20 is available on Mac and Windows platforms, and it gives you up to 125 channels, each with the ability to instantiate up to 10 plug-ins at a time. With plenty of included effects on hand, FL Studio 20 lets you create all sorts of crazy beats—with or without a “Z.”

Image-Line FL Studio V20
Image-Line FL Studio V20

A Microphone

A Microphone

Obviously, Lil’ Bud will need a microphone to receive the spitting of rhymes. The best bang for the buck, as far as we’re concerned, is the Aston Origin, a condenser mic whose tone rivals competitors costing three times as much. Yet this mic is still outside the common gift-giving budget.

Aston Microphones Origin Cardioid Condenser Microphone
Aston Microphones Origin Cardioid Condenser Microphone

It would be a special occasion indeed to warrant the purchase of the Aston Origin. Considering this gift likely has more in common with a bribe than a reward, it might not be appropriate. So, let’s consider some other, more wallet-friendly options.

The Shure SM58-LC is a classic, though it’s mostly used in live settings. Still, artists like Henry Rollins have been recording with the SM58-LC for years, so it might be a great choice for Lil’ Bud. As a bonus, Lil’ Bud can use it live on live gigs, should they wake up in time.

Shure SM58-LC Vocal Microphone
Shure SM58-LC Vocal Microphone

Another option to consider is the RØDE PodMic. Yes, this mic is primarily intended for podcasting, broadcasting, voice-over work, and other applications of the spoken word. But what is SoundCloud rap if not an expression of the spoken word, no matter how indiscernible it may be? This mic, though intended for other arenas, might fill the bill nicely, while going easy on the wallet.

RØDE PodMic Dynamic Podcasting Microphone
RØDE PodMic Dynamic Podcasting Microphone

An Audio Interface

An Audio Interface

Lil’ Bud is going to need an audio interface—a way to get the analog audio from a microphone into the digital world. For this we recommend three different models.

The first is the Scarlett Solo, with a prominent input for XLR microphones. One reason to go with the Scarlett is the switchable Air setting, which mimics the expensive-sounding high end of the original Focusrite preamps, prized for their sonics. This Air setting adds presence to vocals.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2x2 USB Audio Interface
Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2x2 USB Audio Interface

Another model is the Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD, which is exceedingly wallet friendly, and gives Lil’ Bud the opportunity to record with multiple friends. This interface also has a legendary lineage, because its preamps come from the renowned MIDAS line.

Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD - USB 2.0 Audio/MIDI Interface
Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD - USB 2.0 Audio/MIDI Interface

Lastly, Lil’ Bud can make use of the PreSonus Audiobox 96, which is the most budget-friendly of the bunch.

We should also mention that Lil’ Bud can forego the mic-interface combination entirely in favor of a USB microphone. In this case, the microphone is the interface, so you’d need not buy both. Here we recommend the RØDE NT-USB, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+, and the Blue Yeti Pro USB—all solid choices.

RØDE NT-USB USB Microphone
RØDE NT-USB USB Microphone

Auto-Tune

An undeniable facet of SoundCloud rap is the flagrantly auto-tuned chips, chirps, and other random bursts of noise presumably made with human vocal cords. Also, any singing you hear is usually auto-tuned for effect—and auto-tuned to within an inch of its life. To accomplish these effects, there is no better tool than Auto-Tune itself.

You may think Auto-Tune is expensive stuff, but you can purchase a version of Auto-Tune that achieves the coveted effect at a wallet-friendly price. We recommend that you give Lil’ Bud Anteras Audio Technologies Auto-Tune Access, which is compatible with Mac and Windows platforms, and will work with all the DAWs recommended previously.

Antares Audio Technologies Auto-Tune Access - Pitch Correction Software for Pro Audio Applications
Antares Audio Technologies Auto-Tune Access - Pitch Correction Software for Pro Audio Applications

A MIDI Controller

A MIDI Controller

Your Lil’ Bud is going to need a way to program beats—to play them into the computer. We recommend something with buttons rather than keys, because you can’t be sure that Lil’ Bud has any command over music theory.

One controller to check out is the Novation Launchpad Mini MK3, which is specifically geared for Ableton Live. This controller offers 64 pads that light up in various colors (some might even match the hair), and react in various ways, depending on the modes. Lil’ Bud can use this controller to launch clips and scenes, dictate or automate volume, and much more. The Launchpad Mini will work with other DAWs, as well.

Novation Launchpad Mini MK3 64-Pad MIDI Grid Controller for Ableton Live
Novation Launchpad Mini MK3 64-Pad MIDI Grid Controller for Ableton Live

If Lil’ Bud does have some piano chops, check out the IK Multimedia iRig Keys 2 Pro, which offers 37 velocity-sensitive keys, pitch-bend and modulation wheels, and more. Lil’ Bud can use it to trigger MIDI over USB or Lightning connections, making the keyboard compatible with iPhone- and iPad-based software.

IK Multimedia iRig Keys 2 Pro 37-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller
IK Multimedia iRig Keys 2 Pro 37-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

A halfway point between the previous two entries is the Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII which has 25 velocity-sensitive keys and eight backlit MPC-style pads. These are fun to play, believe you me!

Headphones and Other Accessories

Headphones and Other Accessories

Lil’ Bud is going to need to hear the music, so get some closed-back studio-quality headphones—like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x—so you don’t have to.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Monitor Headphones
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Monitor Headphones

Also, Lil’ Bud will need an XLR cable to route audio from the mic to the interface, as well as a mic stand, so as not to hold the mic and tire the hand. These little touches will go a long way as a gift; nobody wants to spend their own money on the boring stuff, and make no mistake: cables and stands are boring stuff.

Auray MS-5230F Tripod Microphone Stand with Fixed Boom
Auray MS-5230F Tripod Microphone Stand with Fixed Boom

Conclusion

Well folks, there you have it: 18 gifts for the aspiring SoundCloud rapper. Present one of these gifts, and hopefully Lil’ Bud’s otherwise glassy eyes will light up, if only for a second, before the practiced, cool disaffection takes over again. Have any other ideas for gifts? Smash that Comment section, below.

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