Cajon Drums and Their Way in Hip Hop

Cajon Drums have been around for a while. You might recall some great hip-hop bands of the early 90’s like Arrested Development, Outkast and The Roots making off some great shows in acoustic hip-hop for MTV unplugged, right?

Well by that time, the use of Cuban Cajons in hip-hop percussion was really common and still some bands look pretty innovative when including a Drum Box sound. Among all of the brands and different models it is hard to find the best cajon drum, but don’t stress about it because CGuide has excellent buyers guide with reviews to help you out.

Cajon Drums and Their Way in Hip Hop

Here, we are going to talk a little bit about the Cajon drums and how they can now be a better fit for your own sound.

Brief history

A Cajon Drum is simply a rectangular wooden box–this can vary in models with stronger materials.

The first sights of this instrument date from Peru, but its beginnings are known to be from the 18 century when slaves were forced by their masters to find a replacement for traditional drums.

Then, after a trip to Peru in 1975, the flamenco guitar player Lucia took the Peruvian Cajon Drum into his band, taking that deep and natural sound to Flamenco.

This way, due to his influence, the Drum Box started to evolve and by the end of 20th century they were already a part of the important percussion sets in the Pop culture.

Their place in Hip-Hop music

Cajon Drums played an important part in early 90’s acoustic hip-hop, huge bands like Arrested Development, Outkast and The Roots made some noise at the MTV unplugged with their clean and complex percussions including the Caribbean power of the Cuban Cajon sound.

As for today, the Cuban Cajon deep style is still good for any hip-hop percussion base. But, playing those is rather difficult, making the snare Cajon a versatile and useful choice with a softer sound that can take that beat with a more sustained frequency and less effort.

Cajon types

This wooden box is very popular with drummers and percussionists, but not only among them. The Drum Box is an instrument that fits with almost any musician.

As with most percussion instruments, it works pretty well for both music education and jam sessions. But, its main attractions are that it is a practical instrument, easy to transport, does not take up space and can be learned easily.

Once you have sat on it and learned the basic punches (on the top edge) and the bass (in the middle), you can play your first beat. Obviously, it is much more fun with a group of percussionists.

Nevertheless, there is various type of Cajon Drum, but here we talk a bit about the most popular ones.


The Snare Cajon is the newest piece of the Drum Box evolutionary line. Taking the Flamenco Cajons idea, here the traditional box has added a snare string system instead of guitar strings.

This allows the sound to be more variable and also offers the possibilities of disabling the system when it isn’t needed and adding sound effect systems to the drums output.

Cuban style

Cuban ones are probably the most known derivation of the Drum Box, they were originally designed for Cuban Son and Salsa, but has been present in many other styles, especially in Caribbean music and Hip-hop of the early 90’s.

These offer a clear output, but their sound is different because of their 5-sided structure, which makes it deeper and dryer, perfect for a beating rhythm.

Peruvian style

The Peruvian was the first model, the one that Paco de Lucia first took to Spain. This type of Cajon has a simpler design, is basically just a wooden box with an open face for the sound to flow and which edges are covered with slim materials like leather to ease the hit.

They have a more natural sound than their counterparts but the changes depending on the area that is kicked tend to be greater, making them rather difficult to play when the music style demands repetitive beats.


After a time, the first Cajons taken by Paco to Flamenco music started to change. As for Flamenco involves a lot of harmonics played by the guitar, the sound of the percussion needed polish, it had to be more rattled.

Then, a set of guitar strings were added to the Drum Box case to create a blend of the sound which outputs a more rhythmic version of the bass and trembles.

These Cajon drums are now known as Flamenco Cajons and are popular in danceable Latin and Spanish music.

In the end

This instrument is a nice percussion piece to have in any band, its usage goes from Pop to Flamenco and even some Rock bands from the late 2000’s. If you are thinking of adding a more natural and comfortable piece of percussion to your hip-hop band, make sure to choose the right type for your style.

We hope this information was useful to you and that your new sound gets known!

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