Celebrating The Legacy

Akai - 35 Years Of MPC | Part One

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

We're at the half way point on our journey back in time. To see what we get up to with the next few years be sure to check out part two...