Micro-Chopping Fruity Loops (FL Studio): A Brief History and 21-Track Playlist

When Didier Dambrin developed the first version of Fruity Loops (now FL Studio) as a simple four-channel drum machine in 1997, he likely had no idea he was making one of the most polarizing and popular digital audio workstations ever. Since it’s modest origins, the software has helped producers make hits for some of the biggest names in the music industry and has an impressive list of power users from multiple genres.

But like many technological innovations in the arts, it also lowered the barrier to entry. Critics of the program argue that because of this increased accessibility anyone with a hacked copy of the software can now call themselves a producer. As a result FL Studio has been the subject of many a salty meme and message board battle.

Years before sparking many a heated debate and receiving endorsement from people like Afrojack, Boi-1da, Hit-Boy, and Vinylz, Fruity Loops wasn’t even on the radar of most people in the industry. That all changed in 2003 when then-aspiring producer 9th Wonder crafted every beat for Little Brother’s The Listening debut with FL Studio. His reason for choosing the program was simple — it was affordable. “I’m not gonna not make music because I can’t afford an MPC. I didn’t choose Fruity Loops to sample–that’s the only choice I had,” he told XLR8R in a 2008 interview.

After the album received acclaim from people like Pete Rock and Questlove, 9th went on to produce “Threat” for Jay-Z’s Black Album, win a Grammy for Erykah Badu’s “Honey”, and earn a Grammy nomination for Mary J. Blige’s “Good Woman Down”.

You’d think 9th’s achievements would change people’s preconceived notions about the program, but his success only led to increased disdain from some critics and peers. “The fact that it’s a $50 program that you download off Kazaa and I [won] a Grammy off of it fucks with some people, man. The Erykah Badu “Honey” joint is a Fruity Loops beat from five years ago,” he told XLR8R.

Regardless of the naysayers, FL Studio’s stock has only risen since 9th Wonder kicked in the door for aspiring producers in the early 2000s. Take multi-platinum, Grammy nominated producer Boi-1da. After teaching himself how to make beats on the program and winning three Battle of The Beatmakers championships in a row, he has since produced hits for Drake, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Rihanna. And then there’s Canadian producer WondaGurl. After making her first beat as a 9-year-old, she landed a beat placement on Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail album with a FL Studio beat at age 16. And the list goes on and on.

Though it is often associated with the high volume of trap beats being made today, the FL Studio discography is incredibly diverse and extensive, spanning well over a decade. Hopefully this playlist serves as an entry point for exploring the vast catalog of songs that were spawned from this once-unknown software.

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