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You Can Be The Best Hip Hop Producer Ever

  1. Fade

    Fade

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    For most of us, music is something that has been in our blood since we were young. Some of you may say that you were born with an MPC, or that producing music is something you always knew you wanted to do. However, no matter how much you want to get to the top of the food chain in the music business, there is a big chance that you might not make it there.

    But it doesn't have to be this way.


    Success In Producing Music

    The reality is that no matter how hard you try, you might not succeed. There are tons of articles that will tell you want you want to hear, but the cold hard fact is that the world still needs people to mop floors more than someone to produce music. I have seen many producers that have an abundance of talent, yet somehow along the way they either lost their desire to move forward, or they simply got dealt a bad hand and ended up working in a completely different career.

    There are also hobbyists; those that love music with such a passion but yet they don't necessarily want to make it their 9 to 5 job. That's understandable, because producing music isn't about making money, rather, it's about creating something special.

    Whatever path you choose in the production game, you have to always try your best to be the best.

    "To Be The Man, You Gotta Beat The Man, Woooo" - Ric Flair

    Truer words were never spoken. I make beats, and I have even produced songs along with rappers, but above all else, I consider myself to be a beat coach. It may seem weird to hear, but it's something that seems to be the right thing for me, as I am always helping beat makers and producers make the best possible music that they can.

    Every day I hear beats from rookies and veterans, and everyone at one point or another has something in their beats that can be improved. Granted, there's no such thing as a perfect beat, but it's the challenge of trying to obtain that notoriety that will set you apart from the rest.

    I always see advice from various coaches and authors that tell the reader to be the best and to never give up. Those are great, but when it really comes down to it, it's quite simple.

    In order to succeed and be the best at what you do, you have to:
    • Practice, practice, practice!
    • Use common sense.
    • Study others.
    That's it.

    I know it's hard to believe for some of you, but there really is no such thing as "talent". The word talent is something that we use to describe someone that is great at what they do, but when using that word, you must take a step back and ask yourself, "How did that person get to that level of greatness?". Sure, one could argue that some people are born with something in their DNA that makes them great at what they do, like Mozart or Bruce Lee. But when you really take a look at someone and how good they are at something, it comes down to the three points I mentioned above.

    Work Hard And Your Music Will Be Great

    I bought my first set of Technics 1200 turntables in 1996. I already had some experience with mixing, but I really didn't know much about DJ'ing at all. Mixing, scratching, and beat juggling were all new things that I had to learn from scratch (no pun intended), so I had to do a few things if I wanted to get better: practice, use common sense, and study others.

    I studied other DJ's at live battles, and mainly by watching DMC competitions where I could see how the popular DJ's did it - guys like Roc Raida, Q-Bert, and everyone in between. By studying, I mean I watched the DMC VHS tapes time and time again until I knew all the routines of all the DJs! Once I had enough knowledge of how to do certain things on the turntables, I was ready to get started trying to do it myself.

    I sucked.

    But of course, I practiced until I was almost deaf and my wrist was starting to get sore from all the scratching. I knew that it had to be done because I wanted to be able to do certain scratches and beat juggles, as well as mix like the best of them. So I practiced some more.

    After working a 12 hour shift, I would come home, and guess what? I practiced.

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    After practicing for about a year, I was pretty solid. Not only did I study those DMC tapes, I also used my common sense and figured things out for myself, like how to beat juggle, and how to do certain tricks with the turntable.

    In 1998, I was good enough that I entered into the local DMC competition. When I first put my name in to compete, they asked me how long I had been DJ'ing, and when I told them two years, they were surprised. It wasn't until years later that I realized two years of practice was actually quite impressive, especially since I didn't have anyone to show me how to DJ.

    The lesson you can take away from this is that you can accomplish certain things, as long as you put the work in. We all learned how to produce music a certain way, but the main thing is that it's YOUR way of making music. You are good at what you do, but now it's time to take it to a new level.

    Focus On What You're Doing

    It's fine to be able to do some research, study others, use common sense, and practice until you fall down, but besides all of that, there's one thing missing: FOCUS.

    Focus is one of those things that is very difficult for some people to attain. As an example, if you are at the gym lifting weights, you will not have a great workout if you're not focused. That is a fact. It's well known from weightlifters that if you want to get a pump in your muscles, focusing is the key. If you pick up a dumbbell and curl it ten times but you're looking in the mirror at the girl walking behind you, you will not get a great pump.

    However, if you curl those weights with your eyes closed and focus on the feel of your muscles contracting and tightening up as you squeeze them, you will definitely get a major pump.

    Producing music is the same concept. Look at some singers, guitarists, pianists, etc. as they perform. Some of them get so into their music that they actually close their eyes. Why? Because they're focused, but more importantly, they're completely lost in their own music.

    "Lose yourself in the music, the moment / You own it, you better never let it go" - Eminem

    The ultimate way for you to be the best is to not only focus, but to lose yourself. Think about Eminem's "Lose Yourself" song. That song alone is a perfect example of losing yourself in the music to the point where nothing else matters. It could be you're banging away at the pads on Maschine, or that you're playing a certain melody on your keyboard, either way, you need to completely immerse yourself.

    Otherwise, you are just like the rest.

    Think about it like this: Bruce Lee was the best martial artist that ever lived. You could argue all day with me about that, but the fact is that Bruce was awesome. He could kick your head clean off your shoulders, then do three flips, make a phone call, and still have enough time to catch your head before it hit the floor.

    This is because Bruce Lee immersed himself in martial arts. He didn't just do movies and teach a few classes, instead, everything he did revolved around martial arts.

    That is why in order to be an amazing music producer, you must be able to let go and just be. If you can do that, then it's time for you to make music that is just EPIC. No filler, no sub-par beats - just epic. Every track that you produce has to be something that will leave a lasting impression for years to come.

    Think of some of the greatest Hip Hop producers, and study them:
    • Hank Shocklee
    • DJ Premier
    • Pete Rock
    • Marley Marl
    • Dr. Dre
    • and the list goes on...
    All of those producers had one thing in common: they were great. Every time they worked with an artist, they would produce gold and platinum hits. That is because all of their work was on a completely different level than the rest, something that you can do as well, as long as you focus and immerse yourself.

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    When Bruce Lee would punch someone, that person pretty much died. That is because he didn't just throw his fist, he put his whole body and all the energy he had into that punch. So with your music, do you want to just sit there and tap the pads on your controller? Or would you rather get completely lost in the music and not care what comes out of the speakers?

    Rock artists from back in the day had some amazing music. These guys made just incredible classics that are still played a lot today, and some people will say it's because they were all on drugs back then. I believe that because of their drug use such as LSD, they would just lose themselves in the music and they were able to produce amazing tracks. It goes to show you that emotion in your music makes a difference.

    It's the same when you have a singer on American Idol that tries to sing a popular song that everyone knows. 9 out of 10 times they suck. That is because they're just singing the song, whereas the original artist put all their emotion into the song.

    Conclusion

    To be the best, it's essential that you just make music. Don't worry about what other people think because the beauty of music is that there are no rules. It's a blank canvas for you to use and do whatever you want to it, so why should you create what everyone else is creating? As long as you focus on your music and immerse yourself, I guarantee you that you productions will be awesome.

    You can be the best.

    Further Reading Related to Beat Making
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
    K-waz likes this.
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  3. Beautiful Noise

    Beautiful Noise

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    Thanks for this article, Fade. I'm at a point in my music life where I feel exactly this way: NOT caring what people who know me think about my beats/rhymes. I'm in my lane and want feedback from cats like you, who will help me reach my full potential as a beatmaker, progressing into a hip hop producer, as I start making albums with artists.

    Before I even got the itch to bang on MPC pads, I used to carefully read the cassette tape j cards for the samples that the artists were using, then find the original song and listen to it. I believed that part of studying where samples came from helped develop and prepare me for where I am now. I remember when it was actually fun to track down samples and the fact that no two beatmaker/producers used the same ones (with a few exceptions). Since it was a task for me to locate the originals, I hope to pass on that same experience to whoever decides to follow my work, and maybe inspire some other kid to make beats.
     
  4. Fade

    Fade

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    Thanks for reading!

    I agree with you, and have done the same thing by reading the credits and looked to see where samples came from. I don't know how many guys are actually doing that today, but that's a whole other story.

    As long as you do what you love doing, you will always be able to move forward.
     
  5. Beautiful Noise

    Beautiful Noise

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    Very few are doing it the way you and I did it, because of Who Sampled. Plus, the technology has advanced so much that a majority of artists make their material downloadable instead of releasing physical copies of they albums. Only the touring artists do it because they need the albums available to sell to the crowds. Te game has changed so much, but I respect the artists who still hustle CD, tapes, and vinyl the old way and also using the web to reach a much broader audience without the label middleman.
     
  6. ArvinArmani

    ArvinArmani

    Iranian ILL Beatmaker , workin of "Forbade" album
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    Alright alright , i know you wrote it 4 years ago but Wait a second

    The biggest point you missed is you can be the best DJ ever , not producer , why ? I dont want to offend the art of DJs , but music producing is a researched art , for Example you may know what to do with a note pan to make it sound better , but a producer is sure of it , why ? Because he actually readed it somewhere . Thats it .