The MPC and S series sampling products from Akai helped shape the sound of music as we know it today, especially when it comes to genres such as Hip Hop, House and the myriad of sub-genres that would eventually mutate from these foundations.

With the ability to capture sounds from any available source, including drum solos, vocals, bass and even melodies, the sample based approach to music that so many of us take for granted was created by users of the pioneering MPC and S series.

Over 35 years after the launch of the original MPC, the format still remains just as relevant today as it was back in the late 80s and early 90s.  To celebrate 35 years of sampling innovation, we decided to choose some of our favourite genres since the late 80s and recreate these sounds using period accurate production techniques. We tried to limit the number of vocal and instrumental samples that we used, creating sample chains in the process as we recycled elements between the genres.

Below you’ll find a guide to how we created these tracks and audio examples – be sure to follow us on Insta and TikTok to see videos of the production process in action.

Classic House (88-89)

Transporting you back to the late 80s and the birth of sample-based house music. We used our MPC-X SE and Akai MPK Mini Plus for all sequencing and playing in the various parts Using the raw power provided by the on-board MPC plugin suite alongside heavy use of the sampling capabilities that all of the MPC standalone products now offer.

We’ve used sampled drums from classic machines used in the early warehouse era including TR626 and TR727 sounds. For the vocals we imported samples straight into the MPC from Splice thanks to the easy to use integration. All instrumentation is handled by the hugely impressive onboard plugins including the Air Solina, Air Mini D, Air Stage Piano and the OPx-4. Further processing is provided by various on-board FX and the hugely powerful Air Flavor and Flavor Pro plugins.

TR626 Drums

We used samples from this classic drum machine and sequenced them with the easy to use touchscreen interface. This rigid beat gives us the perfect foundation to build upon. We used the Air Channel Strip to glue the drums together and provide extra punch.

TR727 Bongos

Played in by hand to improve the “feel” – these samples build out the percussive hits that help keep the drum patterns interesting. The rhythmic timing helps to lift other elements of the track, in particular the bass.


Our vocals are taken from Splice. Thanks to the integration with the MPC platform (which works across all devices including MPC One) we simply found some vocals on Splice that felt like they’d fit our needs and once we’d linked our account these were downloaded, chopped, edited and pitch shifted to suit our needs.

Air Solina

For the string samples we called on the Air Solina to provide that classic house vibe. The Solina is without doubt one of the most recognisable sounds in classic house music, being used across countless classics. The Air emulation is perfect for today’s producers – offering a lush tone.

OPx-4 Flute

Taking influence from classic cuts, the addition of the flute provides a variation to the instrumentation used. This preset was tweaked slightly and was processed using the Air Channel Strip to help position the Flute perfectly into the mix.

Air Stage Piano

No classic house track would be complete without a classic piano riff. Played rhythmically using the Workstation Dance preset, we processed this with some analog delay and Air Spring Reverb. With these tweaks, the piano remains prominent without being completely overpowering.

Hip Hop (90-91)

Arguably the genre most associated with the Akai MPC range. Roger Linn’s playable sampler instrument helped to shape the Hip Hop production world we now take for granted – especially the 16 pad grid. With drum solos sampled to create “breaks”, some of the largest artists in the world defined their sound with the MPC.

We headed back to the MPC-X SE and pulled in some classic breaks as well as samples from Splice. Once we had the track ready, we headed over to ChatGPT and asked it to create a rap focused on Akai. Armed with the lyrics from ChatGPT, we tried to take the AI route with the vocals as well – but they weren’t really cutting it. After a quick browse through Fiverr, we found a rapper whose flow perfectly suited the track.

God Made Me Funky

Taken from the Ultimate Beats and Breaks series, we pitched the break to fit our tempo to match the production techniques of the time. We added some crunch with Flavor Pro and mixed in an additional break layer for build-ups.

ChatGPT Lyrics

We bent the rules slightly with our lyric request, asking the neural network to give us lyrics for 35 years of Akai, rather than just the MPC. We wanted to get as many key products into the track as possible and the artificial intelligence didn’t let us down.


Having failed miserably when it came to finding authentic sounding AI rappers, we headed over to Fiverr. We found an artist who was able to turn the vocals around within a couple of days and delivered a fantastic take which needed minimal edits to fit the track.

Splice (again)

Our main sample comes from the Splice sample platform again. We can’t stress enough how easy it is to integrate the MPC with the platform. We isolated the bassline with a low-pass filter and mixed it carefully with the breaks.

Rhodes Chords

We augmented the vibe of the original sample with some chords played in using the Air Stage EP. For some variation, we also used Air Organ to play the same parts. Flavor Pro was once again used to add some dirt for that authentic vibe.

The Horns

Back to Splice for yet another sample, this time we grabbed the horn sample and chopped and pitched it to suit the vibe. This eventually became the main hook for the track, providing an energetic contrast to the laidback vibe of the other elements.

Hardcore Rave (91-92)

For our next track we shifted across to the newest addition to the MPC range, the One+. This powerful little music production centre packs a punch – with the ability to run the same plugins as the bigger Live II, Key 61 and MPC-X SE. In true hardcore spirit, we created our first sample chains, with vocals borrowed from both our Hip Hop and Classic House tracks.

We’re back on the breaks for this track, but this time we’ve combined them with some drum machine samples to beef them up. Everything is pitched to match the project tempo, no time-stretching was used, giving the vocals a distinct sped up tone. We also called in the Jura synth and made use of the chord functionality for some classic rave stabs and of course we went back to the Workstation Dance patch for another rhythmic piano line.


We combined the break from MC Duke’s “I’m Riffin” with drum machine samples from the classic Roland TR808 and TR626 units. The addition of the shuffle from the XR10 rounds out the drums, with everything pitched to fit the timing of the track.

Sample Chain

We re-used the female vocal from our Classic House track as well as the rap from the Hip Hop tune. During the early 90s, it was common for samples to be lifted from the most recent track and pitched to suit (rather than hunting for the original). We’ve taken the same approach – pitching the vocals to suit the tempo regardless of the resulting tone.

Rave Stabs

The Jura is a fantastic emulation of the classic Juno synthesiser. We made use of the chord memory to program a chord that we could them play rhythmically as a contrast to the rave piano. The distinctive Juno chorus adds to the early 90s feel and we added some delay to give the part more bounce.

Mini D Bass

The 808 bass is joined by a bubbling synth bassline provided by the MINI D. This flexible synth is available from the Akai store and is one of our recommended additions to the standard plugin suite. MINI D is capable of a wide range of tones and comes in to its own when vintage basses and leads are required.

Strings And Things

To provide additional sonic interest, we added some Solina Strings played at higher registers to add that classic rave sound. Drum rolls also add sonic ear candy to keep the sampled drum break interesting.

Rave Piano

There are two approaches to rave piano parts. Either sample a classic house riff, or make your own. We played a simple, rhythmic piano part using the Air Stage Piano Workstation Dance preset again. The piano appears as part of the first breakdown as well as alongside the drums and other elements – highlighting the parts versatility.

Jungle (93-94)

We put the MPC One+ through its paces as a sampler with our Jungle track. Making use of several breaks, the original Akai test tones for bass and even more samples from Splice, we chopped and pitched everything to create this Jungle roller.

As was often the case in 93-94 we emulated triggering the breaks from various start points by copying the breaks (Hot Pants, Think and the Amen) to multiple pads and trimming to suit. We also used the classic Akai test tone samples as a keygroup to provide that classic Jungle low end.

Here Come The Drums

We grabbed three breaks to create our rhythm section. The Amen, Think and Hot Pants breaks gel together nicely. This classic combo features all breaks pitched to the tempo of the project rather than time-stretching or slicing the breaks. This approach gives the drums that timeless Jungle futurism.

Akai S950 Test Tone Bass

The S950 shipped with a series of disks, among these disks was the legendary sine wave test tone. When loaded and played in the lower octaves this simple sine wave produced some of the biggest basslines in history. A quick Google search reveals a Soundcloud download and we simply imported this in and assigned it to a keygroup for instant Jungle bass!

Something For Your Soul

We grabbed a soul stack from Splice and downloaded it directly into the MPC One+. We tempo matched the project with some pitch shifting and then rolled out some simple chops throughout the track to provide variation.

Reggae Switch Up

Many Jungle tunes are like mini DJ sets, with artists switching between musical styles and samples much like a DJ would drop tunes into the mix. We grabbed this reggae sample from Splice and pitch shifted it to match tempo. We did bend the rules slightly for this sample by using the Air Pitch shifter to improve the formants following the tempo change. but we feel we made up for this with…

Dancehall Drums

We cheated a little with the formant shift on the vocal sample. To balance this out, we used some drum machine samples to program some Dancehall drums. We used decimator to shape the sound as if it had been sampled. Many Jungle records would use samples that contained bass, drums, vocals and other instruments – the bitrate of the sampler would act as a filter of sorts, which gave these elements space in the mix.

Renegade Snares

A common drum editing trick from the Jungle era was to play the snare at different pitches. This often provided sonic excitement to what could otherwise become a monotonous loop. We emulated this by slicing the snare hit in the Amen and loading this into a keygroup. We then programmed a drum roll with ascending pitch at the end of the bar.

Expand Your MPC

The Akai MPC range is supplied with some incredible plugins straight out of the box. But, if you’d like additional effects or instruments, the ARM based architecture and networking capabilities allow you to quickly and easily install powerful new plugins with ease.

Here are some of our favourites…

Air Jura

As mentioned earlier, the Jura is modelled on the incredibly versatile Roland Juno 60. Perfect for everything from pads, through to leads, basses and beyond – the Jura also has that classic chorus sound and the chord memory function. At £99, Jura is a steal in our opinion – but if you’re unsure you can demo the plugin before purchase.

Air Flavor Pro

Described as 30 years of sampling crammed into one plugin, the team at Air are bang on the money! With a wide range of Flavors (sorry) – this incredible tool allows you to colour the sound of everything that passes through it. Need your plugin to sound like it was pulled from vinyl? No problem – Flavor Pro has you covered.

Air Mini D

The Mini D is a powerhouse synth – capable of rumbling basses and powerful leads. Although it was on of the earliest plugin releases for the MPC Range, it still holds its own as an essential if you’re making most forms of electronic dance music.

Early DnB (93-98)

It’s now the mid-nineties and the sampler is still playing a huge part in the sounds that are moving the dancefloors across the world. In the UK, Jungle is beginning to evolve into drum and bass – with Akai’s samplers still at the forefront of the latest musical movement to take the country by storm.

Breaks are now being sliced and while sampling is still a huge part of the creative process, the desire to include live instrumentation (or at least samples of) is driving a change in the sound of the underground in the UK.

Before anybody mentions it in the comments, it’s quite possible that we were going in circles before we laid this track down 😉

Give Me A Break

In keeping with the production techniques of the time, we’re now chopping our breaks into individual hits and re-sequencing them. This gives us greater control over the feel and quantisation of the drums while also allowing us to choose the pitch at which we play the individual hits.

Real Bass

For our bassline we’ve plugged in a bass and played it live! Before connecting the bass to the MPC, we’ve run it through a pedal that’s capable of generating a synthesised tone an octave or two (selectable by the user) below the notes played. This gives a phat sub bass while maintaining the character of the bass guitar.

Epic Intro Pt 1.

We’re back on the Solina for the string parts within the intro. Playing lush chords to pad out the frequency range and providing a solid foundation for other music elements. Here the MPC One+ really starts to show just how powerful it is, especially as we begin to add layers and effects.

Epic Intro Pt 2.

Next up, we add the Air Stage EP and play some notes which we push through a delay and compressor to add excitement while maintaining control. The suite of effects provided by the MPC offers a stunning amount of options while remaining simple to use and sounding great.

Epic Intro 3.

Time for some creative use of samples. We played a kick drum sample at a lower pitch to give the intro shaker some additional support. We also added some vocals chops – taken from our earlier tracks and then twisted up using the Air effects suite. The final male vocal is once again taken from our Jungle track – giving us another sample chain.

Right At The Limit

We used the Air Limiter to keep our bass levels in check while recording. This processing helped to maintain the focus on the instrument without destroying the dynamics of the live performance.

UK Garage (99-01)

For our next genre, we’re focused on the late 90s and the sound of UK Garage. We moved across to the Akai MPC Key 61 for this track, and made use of the hefty plugin library that is pre-loaded.

Samples were becoming less prevalent by this point in time – with mostly drums and vocals being played from the sampler. Sound modules played a huge part in shaping the sound of UK Garage – with the E-Mu Phatt range supplying everything from bass to guitar, piano, strings and more (there was even a record store named after the legendary Planet Phatt in Caledonian Road).

Just Steppin’

Making use of the Splice integration again, we imported some select drum sounds from Sample Magic’s “Old Skool Garage” pack and pitched them to fit. We nudged the drums on the 16th triplet grid to ensure that there was plenty of swing.

There’s a wealth of great garage sample packs over at splice from Nitelife Audio, Test Press and of course Sample Magic.

RnB Vocals

Despite being a hugely vocal led genre, UK Garage had very few original vocalists. Most of the hooks were provided by RnB vocals – usually sampled from US imports ahead of the UK release. This would lead to UKG tracks releasing at the same time as the RnB original – helping to broaden the appeal of the genre. To stay true to the original vocal roots of UKG, we pulled in an RnB vocal and pitched it to nail the vibe.

Rhodes Chords

Electric pianos were a huge part of the UK Garage sound, with the Rhodes championed by MJ Cole.

Making use of the full size keybed, we laid down some jazzy chords using the Air Stage EP which is part of the included MPC Key 61 plugin library. We added the Air Phaser and Air Enhancer to increase the movement within the sound and positioned it in the mix with some medium reverb.

Bumpin’ Bass

No UK Garage track is complete without a bumpin’ bassline. We used the Air Mini D for low end duty on after the second drop. Dropping out the other musical elements, and letting the bass become the focus, we added some rolling percussion to create a danceable groove.

Pitched Kick Drum

To simulate the often used 808 kick drum bass boom we loaded the Akai S950 Test Tone and applied an envelope to modulate the pitch of the sample. With a fast attack and the sustain, decay and release tailored to suit the tempo of the track. You can use any of the MPC range as a sampler thanks to the versatility of the sample playback engine.

Adding Tension

Before dropping into the vocal, we add the Solina to provide a sustained single note played in the upper octaves to add tension. This classic technique is used throughout house, garage, jungle and drum n bass to great effect.

Noughties Hip Hop (02-03)

If there is one artist who undoubtedly cemented the position of the MPC3000 as one of the instruments for the creation of Hip Hop, it was J Dilla. No trip through the history of the MPC and the genres these units have influenced can be complete without a tribute to an artist who many cite as humanising the legendary Akai units. In keeping with the humanisation approach, we left the drums un-quantised and got to work.

For the most part, we’re back to using the MPC as a sampler. This time, we’re making extensive use of Air Flavor Pro to get that grit for which the MPC3000 is renowned. We have another sample chain, this time created by flipping the soul stack from our Jungle track to create this head nodder!

Chop N Slice

The core element for our track is the previously used Soul stack we imported from Splice.  We time stretched the sample to fit our tempo and then chopped it on the fly to help us humanise the use of the stack. We placed chops at different points and switched between them to create variations.

True Grit

If you’re going to make Hip Hop, and then you’re going to try and pull off the sound of the MPC-3000, you need Air Flavor Pro. We used several presets to colour the sound of our track, with the SP1200 used in conjunction with the Decimator plugin to get our Rhodes part to sound authentic.

Electric Piano

To add to the vibe of the original sample, we added a Piano line playing some shorter chords. We used this later into the track to add some variation – playing it rhythmically to complement the original soul stack sample.

Noughties RnB (04-05)

For our eighth and final track, we decided to create some early 2000s RnB with a Storch-esque vibe. Making use of the extensive MPC Key 61 plugin library and the essential Splice integration we created this club-style cut.

The Key 61 is used here as both a sampler and workstation – arguably as it was designed. Some elements were played in using the pads, while others were inputted using the full size 61-note keybed.

Still Storch

We headed back to Splice to find some drums and stumbled across the Still Storch sample pack. Having found a selection of drums that worked well together, we sequenced these to provide a solid foundation to build the rest of the elements on top of.

Take The Lead

For our main hook, we used the Air Mellotron – a faithful recreation of the classic Mellotron –  which we played live. We decided against quantisation, as the feel of the lead really suited the overall vibe of the track and informed our other choices when it came to instrumentation.

Further Mellotron Processing

The lead is incredibly important – providing the main hook for the track. With this in mind, we used the Parametric EQ, Vintage Compressor and Small Reverb to help sit the part in the mix.

String Stabs

Flexing the workstation muscle of the included Air instruments, we reached for the Air Studio Strings to give us some hard hitting stabs.  We processed the stab using the standard Air Flavor, EQ and some reverb to place them in the mix.

More Mini D Bass

As has often been the case, we returned to the Air Mini D for bass duties.  It’s easy to see why we rate this synth so highly – it’s versatility makes it one of the most well-rounded instruments in the MPC expansion shop and one that’s worthy of a demo. At the time of release, it’s been reduced to £79!

Vocal Processing

We needed a vocal, so we hit Splice (no surprise there) and downloaded another acapella part from 91Vocals. We pitch-shifted this to fit the key of the track and used the Air Vocal Harmonizer to add a harmony at the interval of a 5th above.

We’ve reached the end of our trip down memory lane. If ever proof was needed that the new ARM based Akai MPCs can deliver all of the production power needed to make complete tracks then this has definitely been it! If you’d like to compare the complete Akai MPC range click here or you can drop into either of our branches to get hands on with MPC…

Please note, the Akai MPC Live II was not available during the production of this content.

All tracks were written, produced and performed by Dan Bond using only the MPC-X SE, MPC One+ and MPC Key 61 – Dan had never used an MPC before embarking on this project! We’d like to thank the team at inMusic UK (Andy Mac, Maddie and Toby) for their support with this content.





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