This is the most important term to understand in Hip Hop construction, cause if you don't know it, you'll never understand what people are talking about. The Beat is basically, the whole song minus the vocals. It usually includes the following:
1. MIDI Drum patterns or audio drum loops, which comprise the complete drum tracks
2. A Bassline (MIDI sequence typically)
3. Supporting Orchestration (could be synth pads, string sections, horns)
4. Dubs and snips (samples that accent and give character)
The Beat can be long or short. In its shortest form it is 8 bars. If short, it is usually looped over and over again, for as long as the vocalist wants. If long, it may be comprised of different parts for the verse and chorus and may add an introduction, a break, and an ending. Often, the HH song follows classic pop form of Intro (8 bars). Verse (8-16 bars) Chorus (8 bars) Verse (8-16 bars) Chorus (8 bars) Break (2-8 bars) Verse or Chorus (8-16 bars) then ends in a fade out. This structure, called the arrangement, of course, is not written in stone. It can be modified to suit the piece at hand.
What do the vocal tracks consist of in a Hip Hop song?
1. Main vocal: The main vocalist performs the rap
2. Second Vocal: Some songs may have a guest vocal or second vocal that takes a verse
3. Background Vocals: Are often created to give a sense that a whole group is participating
4. Overdubbed vocals: During the chorus and at other parts that the artist wishes to emphasize, the main vocal may be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled