Updated: Oct 8, 2020
In classic Kanye West theatrics, the rapper pulled back a veil to reveal an AKAI MPC, or Music Production Center, during the 2013 set seen above. One of his producers, Om’Mas Keith is known to use the same one. Kanye recorded most of ‘College Dropout’ in his bedroom using a Roland VS 1680. The track, “All Falls Down” was recorded on a Roland 18-track digital recorder. Kanye’s producer (and cousin!) Devo Springteen later told Billboard in 2014 that “All Falls Down” wasn’t re-done in the studio because it wouldn’t sound as good as the original Roland recording.
According to Music Tools, Kanye has four main staples for sampling: an Ensoniq ASR-10 keyboard, an AKAI MPC2000 MIDI Production Center, Roland VS-1880 24-Bit Digital Studio Workstation, and a Gemini PT-1000 II turntable. As far as DAWs go, Kanye tweeted a picture of himself using the Serum VST, but he got slack because in the shot it looks like the software had been downloaded illegally. Deadmau5 jokingly responded by tweeting about starting a Kickstarter to raise money for Kanye to buy the $189 software.
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Mega-famous producer, Dr. Dre is known for using the OG Korg Triton on projects like Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP, and The Marshall Mathers LP. He also used it on 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Trying, which was his big debut album. Dr. Dre is also a fan of the alliterated analogue synthesizer, the Moog Minimoog Model D. The Minimoog can be heard on his album, The Chronic, that has served as inspiration for other west coast artists.
As far as drum machines go, the musician used the Roland TR-808 on NWA’s Gangsta, Gangsta. Like J-Dilla and Swizz Beats, Dr. Dre has used the iconic Akai MPC3000, Akai MPC2000, and Akai MPC60. The rapper has said that he would use a several Akai MPC3000s at a time because he was too lazy to swap out the discs. Staying in the Akai family, he used the AKAI S900 MIDI Digital Sampler early on in his career.
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DeMarco is seen using a Roland AIRA TR-8 drum machine in the above set. The singer-songwriter used the Roland CompuRhythm CR-78 on his album, This Old Dog. A true Roland fan, he often uses the Roland Juno-60, notably during his 2017 tour.
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Timbaland has featured an AKAI Professional MPC Renaissance Controller in a video he posted on his Instagram in 2015.
In a beat battle with Swizz Beats he plays with a more modern Abelton Push 2.
He also has made beats with truly iconic Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer. Like, Dr. Dre, he’s been known to use a Korg Triton.
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Prince made the beats for his famous album, Purple Rain, using Roger Linn’s LM-1 Drum Computer. This drum machine was special for its time because it had real acoustic drum samples that could be tuned, mixed, sequenced, and more by direct outputs to external hardware, meaning all of the sounds have their own individual outputs, so artists could output individual sounds to external effectors to fine-tune everything individually instead of altogether. Other drum machines at the time like the Roland CR-78 gave synthesized drum samples, not acoustic ones.