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How Not to Be a Flop As a Rapper/Singer in 2011
The explanation of the above title can be partially summed up in one sentence: Learn to choose the right beats! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard hip hop lovers around the world talk about a particular artist, saying “We he can flow and he got good lyrics but the production on the album was horrible!” In recent memory, this was the downfall of perhaps one of the most gifted lyrical geniuses the hip hop world has ever seen: Canibus. I’ve heard way too many people say that his debut solo album would have been good if he had used better beats. The truth about that is I totally agree. Not only has it happened to Canibus, but after being on Twitter and Facebook for a while now, there’s been a lot of talk about other artists who need better beats. Wale is another name that has been tossed around. It’s something that if you are an artist, you simply cannot neglect.
For a singer/rapper choosing beats, whether you down your own producing or not is usually an emotion based decision. If you watch Jay-z’s Fade to Black you will see that the beats he choose were the ones that he clearly felt the most. The ones that either brought a picture to his mind or made him feel a certain way. Jiggaman may be a bad example because at his level he can afford to hire the best producers in the business, so his likelihood of hearing heart stopping production is much higher. Art is always an emotional thing and if you are a very talented rapper/singer etc you will most likely choose beats that bring out the best in you. You know, the ones that make you say immediately “Oh shit I HAVE to write something for this!!!” or “Turn on the mic lemme hop in the booth and freestyle to this right now!”. With all that said, it must also be noted that your emotions can trip you up and that in this business, there are ALWAYS other factors to consider. For example:
1. If you are signed to a label, often a bunch of beats are chosen for you, based on the direction and marketing slant the label has in mind for you. If you can’t adapt to what is brought in for you then you and your people clearly have an issue to sit and discuss.
2. As an independent or unsigned artist, you have to be aware of your market. If you are a pop singer, you need to know what vibe or feel the market is calling for and choose/make beats to suit. You can’t compete against Akon, Katy Perry and Flo-Rida if you’re singing on beats that sound like some Kelly Price from the late 90s shit!
3. The independent artist also has to be aware of their own limitations. If you sing and your range is limited, do not choose beats that are in a key that you cannot handle, just because you like them. If you rap and your style is only comfortable on mid tempo New York style beats, then don’t go and choose some Waka Flocka “No Hands” type production and try to rap on it. You may just end up sounding as though you’re a tad mentally challenged!
4. Study the music industry in terms of what is being spun NOW as opposed to what you used to like to year back in 2001. Standards change over time and what was considered hot for then is not necessarily going to be hot for now. “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child was a smash hit in the year 2000, but that sound doesn’t fly in 2011. Not for an emerging artist trying to be heard by people who could potentially boost your career.
5. Finally, choose beats that bang. Point blank. Especially if you rap. There are a million producers out there and a lot of them are talented, but then you will come across some whose beats are not mixed right, their sample or tone choices are weak and they basically still sound like they’re using the first version of Fruity Loops. Please stay far from them, At lease until they get their act together.
So to sum it up, if your music career is important to you be aware of the business and marketing aspect of it and how important good beats are to that area. Your sound (as well as look)is what will define you in mind of an A&R. Make sure that when you hear the beat it inspires you to be your best. Make sure you can see the music video before the song is even completed! Your beats must BANG!
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