Greetings and Saliva, dawgs.
Over the past couple months, I’ve been asked two things:
1) Why do your beats sound the way they do? (Sometimes, that’s positive. Sometimes, that’s negative. Sometimes, that’s just pure hatred. Either way, it’s a valid question.)
2) How do you make your beats?
Well, first and foremost, the beats sound the way they do because I’m a guy that was raised on all forms of hip-hop: southern, bounce, Baltimore Club, grime rap, and so on. So, when I begin a beat, I hear a lot of sounds and ways it can go. I combine some of the high points of what’s hot–and what’s actually good–beat-wise and there you go. That’s why a SotB beat sounds like Lex Luger, Polow, and J. Dilla had a bastard spawn and Kanye circa ’03 raised him.
Now, regarding the beat-making process that I go through? That’s an entirely different animal, because I create both sample-based and original instrumentals. So, first, let’s look at the sample-based SotB instrumental. Often, as with True God, I’ll get a request to flip a song into a beat. Sometimes, it’s a soul track. Sometimes, it’s a rock track. Sometimes, it’s a video game flip. The example below, “Used to See Me As,” from my own #RAQUEL mixtape pulls from the Wild Arms 3 opening theme.
The first thing that I do is
light a candle, smoke some reefer and zone the fuck out listen to the original song at least three times, figuring out where I want to pull from. Then, I’ll do a quick search to see if the song’s been sampled by anyone else, as I don’t want my beat and the beat from “Producer Guy #20914” to sound the same. That’s how you get into lawsuits–even more so. After listening to a couple of other flips of the song, I may choose to discard the idea for flipping, say, Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing,” and go for a lesser known track. (This only happens if everyone and their mother has sampled it, such as the case with “Sexual Healing”)
Either way, whether I continue with the original track or not, I start chopping up the sample, a la Dilla, through ACID and other editing software. It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. Once I have the sample laid I, I go in and lay down drum patterns. Some are pre-rendered patterns that I’ve done back in the day, some are pure originals, others–and this is sparingly–are royalty-free loops. But, that’s for when I’m feeling lazy. (Don’t look at me like that. Polow, Kanye, etc. have done the same thing. Hell, why do you think most Southern beats have that same Lex Luger feel? I’m sure Lex isn’t just giving the bass quakes away himself) Once the drums are laid down, I’ll tweak the volume, send it off to the artist for approval and be on my way. If the track needs stems for a producer, which usually they do (some rappers just run with a Speed on the Beat track and cut out the middleman) I’ll pass those along, as well.
With the DOA album, as with every beat that I create, I tried to tell a story. For instance, the track “Black Renaissance” (below) is a story of three parts of black culture: the slavery/”Give us our free”/we’re gonna make it era, the “militant era,” and the–for the lack of a better term–“niggaz is…a beautiful thang” era (also known to some as modern black culture). If you listen to the original versions of the tracks used, you’ll see why each track was chosen and why each segment in the Speed on the Beat revisions are chosen. I try to tell a story with each beat that I craft, and I set a mood. And True, he will hear a track and write millions of verses to it, figuring out which one goes the best with the beat (and vice versa: any artist I work with, they may give me a sample of the vibe they’re going for, and I run with it). It’s not just about “oh, shit, son! This loop is so hot.” That’s how you end up with soulless beats.
And, that, my friends, is why DOA is a classic album with classic beats, why Speed on the Beat is actually a lot smarter musically than you’d think, and why RAQUEL RELOADED is such a gutwrenching tale of self-destruction.
And, here are some snippets from the album DOA due out tomorrow on iTunes.