Thanks to my friend Sa’tori Ananda over at WAR Media, I got a spark to write something about the quality of a LOT of Indy hip hop being released today (probably even right now as you read this). LexZyne Productions is a strong production team and because of that we get music from artists on a very regular basis in hopes that we will work with them. Being that we are our own financial backers we understand that spending money frivolously is not the way to go. However, as a hip hop artist the thing you are selling (yes, regardless of how much you’re charging, you’re still trying to sell your brand) is your sound. Please prepare accordingly.
Beats: Beats are a VERY important part of the sound that you are pushing. While you won’t be able to spend thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a beat, you should still want a quality of sound that sounds like you did. There are a MASSIVE amount of producers and beat makers out there that work hard to put that quality in their tracks. The beats you choose should fit the feel you’re going for and be of top quality. If you take pride in your recordings you don’t want to record your “best song ever” only to have your engineer tell you that the track quality sucks and they won’t be able to give you the sound you need. If that happens, guess what? Back to the drawing board for a whole new session with a whole new beat.
Here’s one of the biggest issues when it comes to the beat selection process of some indie artists. You (low to no budget indie artist (this is not a put down. We’re in the same boat)) get to choose what you want to spend your money on. Often times its necessary to cut corners on some things, but if its going to affect the the sound, or quality of sound, of your final product you may want to reconsider how hard you’re cutting that corner. We know that as an artist/emcee/performer/etc. your voice is the most important thing to you on your project. However, to your fans the beat is just as, or in true fan form in some cases, more important than the voice they are hearing. How much do you value that? Well, these quality things cost. Beat makers and producers that work with indie artists are FULLY aware of the money restraints but also value what they do as their art form and contribution to the culture. This sound that you definitely need as the backdrop to your story is worth way more than what they are asking you for it. One thing at the top of my personal list that bothers me about “working with” artists and maybe making a track or two for free is that a lot of times no recognition is given. That’s a-whole-nother blog entry though.
Don’t take shorts on your tracks. The beats you get need to be on point and you should value your own sound enough to pay the producer / beat maker that is helping you to brand your sound. With that being said you also need to pay attention to the quality of your voice. That brings me to this..
Mixing and Mastering: Ok. So you’ve paid a few producers for this AMAZING project worth of tracks that you decided to rhyme over, you’ve poured out your blood sweat and tears in the booth, you’ve even found that extra dope graphic designer to help you bring your packaging to life. Now you’re ready to hit Kunaki and flood the streets with your product, right? WRONG. There’s some sound quality steps in there that you’ve chosen to leave out. Some knowingly make this choice while others do it because they are excited to get their shit out and have no clue that these important sound quality steps exist. Mixing and Mastering are both SO important to the quality of the sound of your project. Without both of those the project that you worked so long on and are so proud of will definitely hit the streets at an already sub-par level. I can guarantee you that NO one wants to listen to a beautifully packed cd that sound like your voice and the beat are in two separate rooms in a house far away from the inside of their car. Yeah, imagine that. Your fans actually appreciate good quality. Also, no one wants to be nodding their heads HARD to song number 2 then have their speakers blown out on song number 3 because the volume shot up tremendously without them even touching their radio. And last, but not least, no one wants to have their expectations crushed because the bass drowns out everything else on the entire cd.
By over looking these things you’ve effectively sold somebody a well designed coaster or tray to break trees up on. The culture has enough coasters and enough trays to break trees up on. Besides that, by over looking these things you’ve 100% wasted the time and money that you DID put into your project because you ended up releasing something that no one can sit through.
I said it cause that’s what i meant,
Lex of LexZyne Production
Nan Kick, Jilly Aparicio-Taylor, Shade Cobain, Leo J Salazar, Shadina DeGuzman
Brian Barber, Lamar Jones, Cameron Turrill