Last Updated on July 26, 2022.
When producing Hip Hop music, drums are one of, if not the most important ingredient of all, which is why I decided to put together this list of the best Drum VST Plugins that you can use in your Hip Hop productions.
In this article, I will list the best Hip Hop drum VSTs you should try, both paid and free, as well as give you some general insight on how to choose one.
So, without any further ado, let’s get straight into it!
What exactly ARE drum VST plugins?
A VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plugin, is a type of digital software that runs, or is hosted, within another software, for example, a DAW, or Digital Audio Workstation, on your computer.
These range from instruments, such as piano plugins, synth plugins, guitars, or in this case, drum plugins, all the way to effects, such as reverb, delay, etc.
Instead of having a huge drum kit set up in your studio or bedroom, you can have a virtual drum kit right there in your DAW that is designed to look, function, and sound like the original hardware it was based on, or in some cases, it may not be based on any existing hardware.
How do you choose the right Hip Hop Drum VST plugin?
There are dozens, if not hundreds of hip hop drum VSTs in the market today, which makes purchasing or downloading a plugin kind of an overwhelming process. So how do you exactly choose the one that’s right for you?
A good place to start would be to look for a VST with a simple interface that’s easy to navigate. It should offer plenty of different loops, drum patterns and variations, and diverse kits that help keep your creative juices flowing.
I have also found it extremely helpful to pick a plugin that lets you build and customize your own drum sounds, so you can save them for later use.
The perfect hip hop VST plugin will also let you mix your drums, tweak and add effects to your drum sounds, all before reaching the mixing process in your hip hop music production.
What are the BEST Drum VST plugins for Hip Hop?
Let’s kick things off with one plugin I think is the absolute best and then move on from there.
At the end of the list, you’ll be able to find a couple of freebies as well!
The most powerful and flexible drum sampler on the market today.
One of the best Hip Hop beats creation software today.
This plugin was developed and crafted purely for hip hop, rap, and boom-bap productions. It is very easy to use due to the simplicity of its interface, which makes it perfect for both amateur and professional hip-hop producers.
It is loaded with carefully-crafted quality drum kits and beat patterns that help keep you inspired (10 genre-authentic kits, and 1180 different rhythmical phrases to be exact, in over 60 styles), that you can shape using the filter.
Dope 2 also introduced a ‘MIDI Drag and Drop’ feature that lets you send your hip-hop beats into any third-party virtual drum machine or external hardware modules. You can customize the sound of each of its drum sources, as well as that of its master bus, using four separate controls; Ambience, sweep, saturate, and maximize.
Beatmaker Dope 2 comes loaded with everything you need to produce the next hip-hop hit.
Here’s a video where you can learn the basics of Dope 2:
Fastest-growing drum plugin in the hip-hop industry.
If you’re looking for authentic Hip-Hop and Boom-Bap drum sounds with hard-hitting drums, a fat bass drum, and punchy snares that will make you sweat, then look no further! Drum Weapons 4 is quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing hip-hop VST plugins in the world.
With 120 drum kits that each contain 12 completely different sounds, you can find 1452 One-Shots in total that were all rigorously run through high-end gear, that you can fully customize using the FX board provided to you.
This plugin is definitely one of my favorites, due to how easy it is to use. You can’t get a simpler interface than what the Drum Weapons 4 has to offer, which makes for a quick workflow that’ll keep your mind busy and focused without actually restricting you in any way.
Here’s a video where you can learn the basics of Drum Weapons 4:
Lastly, Drum Weapons 4 is currently selling for $129.99 and is available for both Windows and Mac OS in VST and AU formats.
The most powerful industry-standard sampler, by Native Instruments.
Even though Kontakt isn’t actually a Drum plugin, this sampler will work as a host to thousands and thousands of libraries and sampled instruments available for all music genres, including hip-hop and boom-bap, and every other possible genre you could think of.
55 gigabytes of free samples, sounds, and instruments are immediately accessible to you when purchasing Kontakt 6, a huge upgrade from the 600 megabytes that you get in the free ‘Kontakt Player’ version.
Not only does it work as a host for other instruments, but it also allows you to import and record your own sounds and shape them in any way you can imagine to create custom instruments using the set of sampling tools.
The possibilities are endless with Kontakt.
There are hundreds of hip-hop drum libraries that you can purchase once you start using Kontakt as well. Some of the absolute best drum VST instruments are DRUMLAB, and Urban Beats, both by Native Instruments. uBEAT by Umlaut Audio, BEASTMODE by Modern Producers, BOOM BAP DRUMMER by Studio Linked, and Urban 808 by The Producers Choice.
Here’s a video where you can learn the basics of Kontakt:
If you’re already a ‘Kontakt Player’ user, then you know that it’s one of the best free samplers to consider downloading, and what a powerful tool “Kontakt” is, so you should really consider upgrading, and you can buy the full version of Kontakt 6 for $199.
Get Kontakt 6 here: Native Instruments.
Most futuristic-looking drum VST plugin in the world of drum samplers.
Atlas 2 is a Sample Organizer, Drum Kit Creator, and Drum Machine combined. It is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) that finds and categorizes your drum samples (such as kicks, snares, toms, hi-hats, etc.) in sample files and groups them accordingly.
The AI also makes its assessment from the waveforms of the samples and groups them by their characteristics (long kick drums in one group, bright snares in another, etc.)
You can probably tell that the interface of Atlas 2 resembles the world map, where different instruments are divided into colorful “continents” to make your workflow that much easier (and more beautiful to look at).
Atlas 2 also lets you edit your drum samples by choosing the length, level, pitch, and envelope, and perform some simple filtering for each sample so you can take your sounds to another level.
After you’re done with your session, you can export your sounds as MIDI and Audio Loops, with the ability to drag and drop the results straight into your DAW.
ATLAS 2 can be used either within your DAW or as a standalone, in 64-bit only.
Here’s a video where you can learn the basics of Atlas 2:
There is a 14-day free trial available where you get to try the software, or you can purchase ATLAS 2 for $99.
Get Atlas 2 here: Algonaut Audio Website.
NERVE by Xfer Records
A world-class, very strong drum machine plugin.
Created by veteran dance music producers, Nerve is another OG in the world of drum samplers today. It is one of the most intuitive, and powerful drum VST plugins that stands out for many reasons, starting with the very basic design, which in my opinion, emphasizes the plugin’s simplicity, to its impressive internal Step Sequencer which allows you to program beats visually or by clicking rhythmically.
Nerve has a huge 2-Gigabyte sound library that’s full of thousands of sounds, ranging from full presets, to patterns, drum kits, one-shots, and loops to help you with whatever music genre you’re working with.
It has endless options to cater to your every need and to give you that perfect sound.
Everything you want to control is instantly accessible in Nerve. You can simply drag and drop your sound files from your hard disk and audition different drum samples, or you can sculpt, slice/trim, stretch, bend and re-synthesize your original sounds into completely new sounds, all using minimal CPU power.
Nerve also has multiple output capabilities for external mixing/processing, and has MIDI support (both input and output) if you’d like to control Nerve from a MIDI controller using assignable MIDI notes, or use it as a “sequence engine” to generate notes or control other synths and samplers.
Here’s a video where you can learn the basics of Nerve:
You can either purchase Nerve for $199, or download the free demo that is limited to 20 mins only.
Get Nerve Here: Xfer Records.
Best drum VST plugin for rhythmic pattern creation and infinite grooves
Over the past year, Audiomodern has been working on a new technology called “smart” algorithm that generates personalized beats and patterns and infinite variations of grooves.
Well, how does this work you ask? The plugin watches your day-to-day activity while learning and memorizing how you work, which lets it adapt to your preferred patterns, and generates personalized beats that match your own style. It’s literally the perfect user experience. (Kind of creepy, I know).
You can have up to eight independent sequencers which can combine Real-Time Pitch Shifting, Playbeat’s signature, Flam strokes, Volume, Pan, and more. Not to mention the “Playbeat special”, which is its signature Infinity mode.
This mode generates a new pattern every time a new loop comes around, leaving you with endless possibilities. This really is the plugin for boundless creativity.
Here’s a video where you can learn the basics of Playbeat 3:
Get Playbeat 3 here: Pluginboutique.
The perfect drum sampler for the bedroom producer
When DopeSONIX released Beat Machine 1 and Beat Machine 2, they did so with only Hip Hop producers in mind, but when they upgraded to Beat Machine 3, they expanded their sound and style to almost all genres of music, from hip hop to house music, EDM, and even rock.
In this version, they added 300 high-quality drum kits, and 300 MIDI drum patterns, for almost every style imaginable.
You can sculpt these sounds using the Hi/Lo Pass Filter, the pitch, pan, gain controls, and analog-style reverb, to create some interesting dynamics. It doesn’t take much of your CPU power and loads pretty quickly.
It also has both Stereo and Multi-Out routing options to both sequence and record, and lets you program your drum MIDI patterns manually, or use a MIDI controller.
Sadly, a free trial mode is not available for download.
Here’s a video where you can learn the basics of Beat Machine 3:
DopeSONIX made the plugin pretty affordable too. You can purchase Beat Machine 3 for $80 using the link below.
Get Beat Machine 3 here: Pluginboutique.
An affordable drum VST plugin with a huge library.
In 2019, Thenatan came out with one of their first plugins called Trax. A drum machine that features more than 400 hard-hitting drums and 50 drum kits, suitable for all kinds of styles of music, from hip hop and boom bap, to trap, EDM, and more.
The VST comes with an 8-channel mixer and 16 stereo outputs, with built-in FX such as analog-style reverb and distortion, drum compression, and crackle/hiss/noise, to name a few.
What I love about this plugin is the huge library and sounds it presents, and how powerful and punchy the kick drums are. I do have to say though that the interface could be slightly improved in the future to make it simpler to use, but that’s about it.
Here’s a video where you can learn the basics of TRAX:
If you want to try it out for yourself, you can purchase Trax for only $20 using the link below.
Get TRAX here: ADSR Sounds.
Best Free Drum VST Plugins for Hip Hop
If none of the previously-mentioned plugins tickle your fancy, then you might be pleased to know that there are also free plugins available that you can use to produce hip hop drum tracks.
I would highly recommend Drum PRO (the first one on this list) since it’s, basically, the best one.
Drum PRO by StudioLinked
Perfect drum VST plugin for amateur producers.
Drum Pro is a free drum vst/kit sampler by StudioLinked that comes with 20 drum kits, sampling 9 vintage drum machines including the famous Roland TR-808 and TR-909, the BOSS DR-55, and Novation DrumStation, to name a few.
You can also purchase more expansion packs from StudioLinked’s website if you feel like you need more drum sounds to get your creative juices flowing.
In the interface, you can see your global effects (attack, decay, sustain, and release), 12 drum pads, and 12 volume sliders and pan knobs for each of those pads.
This plugin is great if you’re just getting started with beat-making. It’s fairly quick to use and most importantly, free! So you can always test it out and make some nice hip-hop beats before deciding to purchase a more advanced plugin.
In my opinion, Drum Pro is one of the best free drum VST plugins on the market.
Here’s a video where you can learn the basics of Drum Pro:
You can Download Drum Pro for Free here.
Line of Legends by Vst4free
Great drum VST plugin for quick and easy beat-making.
Line of Legends has one of the most simplified interfaces you can find on a drum sampler. As you can see the design is very straightforward.
It comes with 47 high-quality samples, the interface is divided into 8 sections (Kick, Snare, Clap, Snap, Toms, Hi-hat, Ride, and Crash), that you can edit using the punch, release, and pan knobs. Each with its individual output.
Line of Legends is the perfect drum VST plugin for a hip-hop producer who’s just getting started.
Here’s a video where you can learn the basics of Line of Legends:
You can Download Line of Legends for Free here.
SD 2100 by Acquit Music Co.
The perfect plugin to get that hip hop golden age sound.
The SD 2100 is another free plugin and an emulation of the famous 1987’ Emu SP 1200 classic drum machine. You can see from the design that it has that “primitive” feel to it.
The plugin features 32 presets, 8 wav. slots where you can use your own samples and save each sound as a preset, an effects section (filter/ Delay / Reverb), overall pitch and volume select, and mute buttons for each channel.
If you’re a fan of the Emu SP 1200 and looking for that vintage sound, then simply download the plugin for free and test it out for yourself!
Here’s a video where you can learn the basics of SD 2100:
You can Download the SD 2100 for Free Here.
You have plenty of amazing drum VST plugins to consider for your hip-hop productions, but for me, Native Instrument’s Battery 4 takes the crown. I believe it’s the most versatile out of all of them, it gives you endless possibilities to create, it’s great for experimenting with drum sounds and patterns, not to mention, having drums racks is such a powerful tool for beat making, especially if you’re not an Ableton Live user. Most drum machines do not have this option.
Native Instruments is such an amazing company, it’s a leader in the world of music software, synthesizers, hardware, etc. which explains why Battery 4 and Kontakt 6 both take the number 1 and 3 spots on my list.
You can always start with the free VST plugins suggested on this list, then move up when you feel comfortable and confident enough.
Experiment. Create. And have fun. In the end, that’s what music is all about.
I would like to add that a lot of amazing drum plugins with top-notch sound quality and very realistic drum sounds did not make this list. Plugins like Addictive drums 2, Steven Slate Drums 5.5, Superior drummer 3, EZdrummer 3, and GetGood Drums, simply because they are all virtual acoustic drums that will give you those classic sounds for music genres such as rock, metal, jazz, soul, and country.
Feel free to check them out If you’re looking for an acoustic drum kit with some epic organic drums. These plugins will still give you some of the best drum tracks in the world of percussions.
You can always find a hip-hop kit in these plugins, but they may not give you the exact sound you’re looking for, as they were not built with the hip-hop producer market in mind, even though they do offer astounding drum sounds.