Just like any other type of music, try to sit with the producer/artist/whoever has creative control over the project, and develop an understanding of where they want the song to be, what they want it to do, where they want it to go. It may help having some examples of other cuts on the album to maintain some continuity, as well as cd's of other artists that project similar emotions to what is desired on the current song.
Other than that, don't get so stoned you can't function.
Tips for mixing hip-hop? Yeah, turn it up to 11 the 1st time you play it for your clients!
Seriously, if your drums don't sound gritty enough, try using lo-fi or something to get it down to 12 bit, which can give your drums more edge.
The trick about mixing rap (and most other musically styles too) is that you have to follow the musically trends to know where the future of the music is going. Your mixes will take about 6 months to see radio play, so if you mix "for today" your mixes will sound dated.
Well theres 2 types of hip hop these days the dirty stuff which gets cleaner everyday and then like the 2 step influenced crap going on these days. I think Hip hop should just be aa series of commitments on the way and that basically you should be laying vocals on a track that pretty banging to start with. But thats my style. If your into the dirty stuff get an MPC and if you cant get $*^t happening just from a mackie 1402 and the 8 outs of that then your not ready to mix your tracks yet. Some of the most incredibley sonically good hiphop I have ever heard has been mastered off a guy where we mix live from his MPC and an s900 and he does his vocals over that for a few takes till he lieks his vocal. If you committed everything right it will sound insane.
The band I think maing the best hip hop in the world(Dalek) uses both the MPC 3000 and an ASR and get great results with it. The fact is this is all "pick a format and get to work". You can make a great record with any equipment just shitty equipment makes it so you have to have a lot more talent and put a lot more work into it. Just make results happen.
To give you some background...yes...I have done Hip-Hop...big time...many times..
asr-10 Another standard.
Since 94 at least..Still works well.... Makes big tone. Universal unit.
Here is "what up"
Many Hip hop cats let me mix 2 track in the ASR/MP and dump that to 2 track. The we cut the vocals. First...we cut the hooks, then put that mix to 2 track and sample it.
Then run the multitrack to record on 2 tracks and punch the hooks in from the sampler...you Hip?
Then we cut the vocals, and the "ad libs".
We end up with 8 tracks.
1/2 the beats.
3/4 the vocals and ad libs
5/6 the hooks
7/8 the other integrated samples.(and dazzel)
We mix 8 tracks.
I have 128 tracks but HIP HOP never get's past an 8 track mixdown. Once we have the mix rolling, then we put the flavor on it in mastering.
I have done whole hip hop albums with major artist and compilations from scratch to finish in 4 days. Some of them are 20 songs. While we are working on the tracks/ bouncing mixes, the cats have pen and paper out writing new rhymes. It goes fast. How about 62 HIP HOP albums in one year? Done that too.
The large breakdown in hip-hop is:
1. Getting the killer beats... ( you got some I can submit to my rappers...I am hip.....you can get paid..)
2. Tight hooks. We work hard on recording hooks so that they are perfect before mixing down to 2 track and sampling, and key them in real time.
Roy Jones Jr.(Champion boxer) Raps..Pretty damn good. I worked with him in 22 sessions. Same way. The big boys were there too. I directed and engineered a bunch of his stuff.
3. Flavor and mic scared wuss asses.
They rap their ass off until we open the mic. "Mic Scared" means...they move around too much and when we do a punch in...the volume is off...and then you have to go to automation. And they perform horrible when we are recording. Trick them. tel them it is a dry run...and punch in anyway. The first take is usually the best one, you can punch in any mistakes.
10,000 Hours of experience with HIP HOP!
Once 8 tracks...mix is a cakewalk.
This is how Mas.P does it...I was there, I know...did it...know it.
Go for yourself...and I hope this helps..(Rhyming again)