The zen of balance will save you countless headaches. Balance is an essential concept for learning how to mix hip-hop. Balance is one of the most fundamental elements of a good mix. The initial mixing step is to establish a good balance.
Balance is about prioritizing the elements of your mix through perceived relative volume. In general, hip-hop has a heavy emphasis on vocals, drums, and bass. The balance of your mix should reflect that. If you begin mixing with priority in mind, you will get better results.
MIXING SECRET: Instead of turning individual sounds up, turn the other sounds down (or even off).
You face two basic balance problems most of the time. Both can be fixes the majority of the time through arrangement. The first problem is having too much going on. If you have instruments all over the place without unifying themes your listener doesn’t know what to focus on.
Imagine hearing two rappers spit at the same time without any relationship between their verses. It’d be chaos. One of them would have to go. The same applies to instruments. The mute button is your best friend in dense arrangements.
The second balance problem is having too many things in the same frequency range. You are not going to have two 808s playing different but close notes at the same time. That’s too much in the bass frequency range. Likewise, you’re not going to have a snare roll and claps going at the same time. They both occupy the same frequency range. Solve the frequency range problem by having instruments play at different octaves or at different times.
In summary, balance is the volume relationship between elements. Prioritize sounds to determine how to balance your mix. Instead of turning individual instruments up, turn the others down. Don’t have too much going on at the same time. Don’t have too much going on at the same time in the same frequency range. The mute button is your friend.