One of the biggest reasons why I do what i do with BBoyTechReport.com is to teach & learn. Yes, it’s often a reciprocal exercise. So, when I share my thoughts and knowledge I often receive knowledge and bits of wisdom in return from the many BBoyTechs out there walking similar paths.
Here in this episode of “10 Reasons Why” I wanted to address some common points of contention for my beat making homies out there. This is not me literally saying “Your Beats Suck!” It stands to reason that this stuff is all subjective and I’ve obviously not heard every beat that every beat maker has ever made. Obviously, all of us (including myself) could stand to improve in some respects. I am merely stating that I’m willing to bet (figuratively speaking – don’t bother emailing me your bets) that your beats could be better and you could likely reach your full potential with beat making if you dare sidestep all of the excuses and distractions that some of us hold on to.
Take a read and lets see if we can elevate our craft and reveal some hidden genius that we all have locked away behind the excuses and distractions.
10. You are obsessed with the gear that your idol uses.
So, somebody you know used an MPC 3000. So what?! Somebody else who made that dope song that you like uses the MPC 60 or SP 1200. So what?! That doesn’t mean you can’t make dope beats without the use of that same gear. 9th Wonder came up using Fruity Loops (now FL Studio). Most of his heroes likely never even heard of Fruity Loops at the time. That never stopped 9th Wonder from making dope beats and becoming a legend in his own right. 9th Wonder figured out what worked for him with what he had at his disposal. So much, in fact, that when the chance to produce “Threats” (Black Album) for Jay-Z, he was given a sample to flip and a song concept and they left him alone in the studio with his laptop and Fruity Loops to get busy. The rest is history.
9. You haven’t studied the craft.
A wack-a-doodle we all know once said “You don’t have the answers… You haven’t done the education!” Well there is some truth in this statement in relation to the topic at hand. In context of this article, its more about the idea of “practice makes perfect.” Although, I am a proponent of the new and improved “practice makes better.” This is why we never stop practicing. This is why we should always respect the craft and study the craft.
Frankly this philosophy is applicable to anything of interest that you plan to throw yourself into. Venus and Serena’s Dad envisioned his daughters as Tennis Titans. There was just one problem. He didn’t know the game himself. So, he studied the craft and taught his kids accordingly.
The same applies to hip-hop and the art of beat making. There must be something that you identify with in the beats you like. What makes your favorite beat or beat maker great? Pick it apart. Identify it. Study it. Recreate it. Build on it. But don’t bite (see number 4). This is an exercise in understanding the theory. Bottom-line! Study the craft!
8. You are overthinking the damn thing.
Stop thinking and start making beats. It’s easy to get caught up in the process and the workflow and the gear lust. We are all guilty of it at some point or another. But there comes a time when you have to get to it. Make the music with whatever it is that you have. Dont over contemplate about the new thing-thing that will make the “what’s-its-name” go boom and bang. Chances are you can make it happen with what you have now (with in reason, that is). The idea here is
7. Less is more.
Less is more is applicable in at least two different ways. One point of reference is that production doesn’t have to be the most busy collage of all time. Smokey Robinson said once that the hardest thing in the world to do is to write a beautiful yet simple song. The same holds true for beat making. For me, the dopest beats most times are the simplest ones. Reference anyone that you like as a beat maker, Dilla, Pete Rock, Marley Marl, 9th Wonder and on and on. These dudes are genius beat makers but they are minimalists. What makes their joints so dope is that they embody a feeling and a certain esthetic in the music, the swing, the soul and so on. There music is never crowded yet its so huge and beautiful. There is a zen in finding that Less is More pocket of production.
On the other hand, when I say less is more this is not a matter of minimalist production. It’s a matter of gear and feature lust. We all fall victim to the idea that “if only I had this or that I could really make this dope.” Less is more in this form is a reference to the amount of gear that you think you need, the amount of sample packs that you think you need or the amount of software, specs and features that you think you need in order to make dope beats. Limitations often breed creativity. Case and point, the MPC and the turntable was never intended to do the things that hiphop took them and did with them. Thinking outside of the box with less sometimes breeds or stimulates better creativity.
6. The Internet hates you.
Now I realize when I say “the Internet hates you” the first thing you think is that sounds dumb. Or maybe it’s not relevant to beat making. Ah, but it is relevant to productivity. Okay well here’s my point, the Internet is the biggest distraction that you could ever have when making beats or when attempting any task for that matter. Now a day we make beats on computers and we make beats on mobile devices. We have notifications enabled on both in most cases. These things are living and breathing distractions. If you decided to partake in a little experiment in productivity you’d find Facebook, twitter, social media etc. to be your biggest time killing black hole.
Set aside distraction free time for beat making. If that means, using only your stand-alone gear (for those that are hardware heads) do it. If that means, turning off notifications on the mobile device and computer or turning them off altogether, do it. I once challenged a buddy to make 3 to 5 beats per week within a designated distraction free time period. It works. Turn it all off but start with the internet. (but be sure to read the latest news reviews and interviews on BBoyTechReport first)
5. You got bugs.
Yeah you got bugs. So what! I got bugs. We all got bugs. This is the technology age. It appears to me, that in a day and age where technology rules everything that we do there are going to be a number of bugs. It is just the way this software is created. Our obsession nowadays with the bug report keeps us distracted from making dope beats or making beats at all for that matter. I’m not saying ignore the buggy software. I’m not saying don’t get help for the bugs that you find in your software or machine. But I am saying that some folks seem to use the “Bug” as a crutch. My thought is, either you can use what you got or you can’t! If the bug is debilitating, by all means, handle yours however you must. But if its miniscule and you can still work, move on to making beats.
What I’m saying is a lot of very important and famous people and beat makers have done a lot more with much less. My advise, is don’t be so crazed by the bugs. Work it out .Make the beats. That’s the purpose. If your equipment and software does not work for you and you can’t deal with their limitations or short comings there are plenty of alternatives for everyone’s specific needs and workflow. Don’t get stagnate and preoccupied by this stuff. Move on to something else. The whole point is to make beats, not to troubleshoot the beat machines and software. Don’t lose sight of that.
4. Be inspired, don’t bite.
One of the biggest things I see people do is to be inspired by their favorite beat maker. Not an issue. That’s not all that odd. It’s human nature. The problem comes in when they go and attempt to make beats high on that inspiration only to turn about and mirror their inspiration. Rather than being inspired to be creative they are inspired and they attempt to emulate and copy. Let’s take Kanye West for example. I once said in an interview that “Kanye West is great at what he does because he was the first Kanye West as opposed to the next Jay Z.” You can only be you. You can’t be the next somebody else. If that is your goal you’re going to fail. Be inspired, don’t bite what inspires you. Not to mention, biters are suckas. As KRS-ONE said years ago, “You can’t stop the original with a copy.”
3. Hardware and software specs don’t make beats.
I can’t say this enough, the specs of your gear don’t mean a damn thing. Who cares if your synthesizer program only has 100 slots for saving user programs if you’re only going to use the presets anyway?! Who gives a damn how many oscillators your synth has if you are not going to use them anyway?! Doesn’t really matter how fast your drum machine saves or loads programs if you’re never going to use it or play live at all.
For real though, many many famous and rich beat makers have made hits and classics on that same machine that you complain about. If you waited to buy a piece of software because it doesn’t have 300 different scales that you can choose from, your losing. Let’s be for real. How many scales are you going to use anyways. Don’t get me wrong, I know that some specs matter. However, my point is that you shouldn’t get caught up in the specs. You shouldn’t get so caught up in the marketing blitz that you forget that the purpose is to simply make beats. A lot of people have done a lot more with a lot less.
2. You are officially boxed in.
So many beat makers get caught up in the “hot beats”, the charting tracks or whatever might be the latest trend. Because of that so many beat makers attempt to make the hot beats (screw faced eyeballin’ you “trap beats”). Making a hot beat is not what you want if that’s not in your wheelhouse. Let me explain, the hot beats or what’s trending is not necessarily what’s really in your heart and soul. You should be making what you really feel and what really resonates with you. If by chance what really resonates with you is what’s hot on the radio, by all means, make it! Stop reading now and get busy! But if you are only doing it in hopes of making a quick splash while you shoot for the stars, don’t let what’s trending box you in. A wise man once told me, “Once you start chasing the dollar and not whats in your heart you’ll forever be the hamster on a wheel in an endless loop with not real direction.” Plus, it’s exhausting and unrewarding where it truly counts. I’ll bet that if you turn off all the noise that compels you to create the hot beats you’ll end up making the real hot shit because you will suddenly unlock your own creativity. Suddenly, you’ll begin to think outside of the box. Don’t get boxed in.
1. You are not a music tech, you make beats (music).
At the end of the day you have to clear out all the clutter. Forget about all the stuff you read about the possibilities that this thing can do whatever [insert fantastic super duper production trick here] if you mod it, if you shake it, if you make it, if you pull it, if you jailbreak it. The real result and satisfaction is in the beats that you make. If you’re into music technology that’s absolutely cool (hello…BBoyTech coming to you live and direct) I’m not sweating you on that. But the purpose is to make beats don’t get caught up in the music technology and tech jargon. Don’t be distracted by all that is technical. Just get down to it and make beats with what you already know and with what you already have.
Until next time… Love, Peace and Beats!
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