As far as DJing programs go, they don’t come much more user friendly than HipHop eJay. The problem with most of these programs is that they seem to offer you all realm of mixing possibilities but you need to be Fatboy Slim to have any clue how to operate them. Whilst lacking advanced controls, HipHop eJay 6 makes it so easy that even the slowest learners will feel like Grandmaster Flash.
The improvements over its predecessor are mainly an increased number of samples and a few instrument variations, including new snare drum beats and piano loop combinations. HipHop eJay 6 also sports a sleeker interface that’s less cluttered, although requires more rifling through menus as a result. Samples have increased from 3000 to 4000 and there’s a few new wizards to guide you through your first scratches. There’s also a new ‘Mophonix Supabass’ amplifier to make your bass lines sound ‘phatter’ than ever.
The layout is conventional enough – a pair of decks separated by a mixing console jammed with samples. However, the key element is the layered timeline that runs along the bottom – in much the same way as in a video editing package – where you can drag and drop the various blocks. This simple timeline makes constructing tunes a breeze. For instance, you can drag a drum beat into the first audio track and then complement it with a guitar in the second, a scratch on the third etc. You simply hit play and in an instant, you’ve got something that sounds like T-Rex meets Run DMC.
The turntables can be used to scratch and mix your masterpiece as it plays. It takes a bit of time learning how to scratch with a mouse although if you’ve got a laptop touch-pad mouse, it’s a bit easier. The new ‘Scratch Wizard’ shows you step-by-step how to make your scratching sound like scratching, and not like someone is smashing up the turntables. Alternatively, they can be used to play a separate backing track from your CD player or audio files saved on your PC over your beats. In the middle, you’ve got a crossfader to switch from one turntable to the other although trying to mix two records at once whilst cross fading with a mouse is pretty difficult.
There are also a few other nice little extras with HipHop eJay. One is a Grafitti Tagging function which enables you to spray paint your own album cover. Another is the ability to connect a mic and record your own vocal track in real-time to give your recordings a truly personal feel.
To those who are more serious about their music, HipHop eJay could come across as something of a kid’s tool however. It offers little control over the minutiae of the music although it does offer a few advanced features. There is a 48-track arranger which gives you control over where you want to emphasize certain sounds; and there are basic controls over tone and pitch but not much more. The program is clearly aimed at beginners since it also features thousands of unlicensed samples that won’t be of much interest to serious Hip Hop musicians either. However, you can simply disregard these and upload your own in MP3 or WAV format.
For anyone looking for a simple hip-hop DJing program that makes you sound like you know what you’re doing in minutes, this should be your first choice. Those seeking something a bit more professional will be disappointed but might find it useful to experiment with a few ideas on. Whatever your level, HipHop eJay will have you getting ‘deep and dirty’ (in the program’s developers’ words) in no time.
Pros: Makes hip hop music creation simple, Drag and drop interface is easy to use
Cons: Not many advanced features beyond scratching, Mixing and crossfading with mouse is awkward