I started making beats when I was 12. The first one absolutely sucked. As the years went on, I got better equipment, and I became better as well. I started out with Acoustica Mixcraft, then updated to Fruity Loops (FL) Studio 4. After this I updated again to FL Studio 5, then FL Studio 8, and finally FL Studio 9. FL Studio I only use for my remixes of songs, and for trance type songs I make at times. I don't think FL is geared towards hip hop and rap. For hip hop and rap, I use Reason 4.0 with a helluva lot of Refills. The one I use most is Sonic Refills, and for my drums in ReDrum I use a refill called "DrumOmania." It has, BY FAR, the best drum samples I have ever heard.
I do not play live.
Scott Storch, The Runners, The Heatmakers, Mysto & Pizzi, David Sides, Two-Face, DJ Ish, Ronald Jenkees, Just Blaze, Nitti, Toompa
Reason 4.0 -- Hip Hop Production
FL Studio 9 XXL Producer Edition -- Remixes & Trance/Dance
Adobe Audition -- Audio Recording & Editing
N-Track Audio -- Audio Recording & Editing
M-Audio Midi Keyboard
Cyber Acoustics Speakers and Subwoofer