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8 Things I Would Change in Hip Hop Production (If I Had a Time Machine)

  1. Fade


    Beat Scientist
    Jan 29, 2017

    These are things I wish I could go back and change in Hip Hop production. Even though beatmakers and producers continue to move forward in their productions, it would have been even better if we had a bit of help from a time machine. Let's go...

    Limit Rap and R&B Collaborations

    Rap and R&B have always had a close relationship. I remember back when Blondie was crossing over into Rap music territory and when Jody Watley had Rakim on "Real Love". It worked because it was minimal and was only a small fraction of what actually represented Rap music. As the industry grew and collaborations became the norm, the gelling of Rap and R&B made a big pile of soft beats. Sure, there were some that turned out great like Method Man and Mary J Blige, but most did not.

    What I never liked was how much R&B influenced Rap music. That thick layer of dirt and grime that made Hip Hop what it was, was now washed away with love songs backed by soft beats and melodies.

    Prevent Cash Money Millionaires from Ever Making Music

    I can't knock the hustle. What Birdman and his crew did was phenomenal from a business standpoint, but as far as the beats they put out - nope. I know many will disagree but that's why this is my time machine and not yours!

    When I first heard "Ha" by Juvenile, I honestly thought it was a joke song. Really, I did. If you take a look at that video, you can really see how this is what changed Rap forever, and you can even hear that style in today's Trap beats.

    Hard-hitting kicks and snares were replaced with much weaker versions, which is fitting because of the weak flows from the likes of Juvenile and the like.

    Prevent the Flood Where the RZA Lost Tons of Beats

    It's a shame the RZA flood happened. When I heard about that years ago, I, along with everyone else, were all saying the same thing, "Imagine the beats if….". Apparently, the RZA had 300 beats that were done and labeled for each Wu artist he was doing solo albums for, and then they were all gone. Just like that.

    Could you imagine what we would have gotten back then? We could have had a whole different level of beats to nod our heads to even to this day.

    Prevent Rap from Crossing to Pop and Rock

    Like R&B, Rap was always successful at merging with other genres. Run DMC hooked up with Rock artists in the 80's and had plenty of hits, and even the Beastie Boys went that route as well. The problem was that when you take Rap and merge it with Rock, it pretty much comes out just sounding like a Rock track instead of a Rap track with Rock elements in it. That's because production-wise, the producer would usually just have a hard drum beat with lots of electric guitar on top. It may sound great, but in a sense it's almost like a lazy way of producing.

    Pop music on the other hand, should have never merged with Rap. Never. It's like R&B times 1000, meaning that the final product will be an extremely watered down beat.

    There's nothing wrong with Rap music merging with others but the whole point of doing that is to still have it as a Rap beat with the other style's influence. Not a merger that churns out something weak.

    Prevent Labels from Influencing the Sound

    This one I can't stress enough. I think this would be the first thing I do with my time machine - jump in and head way back so I can stop this immediately.

    I understand that a record label is all about money, not the music. So with that in mind, they're going to want to put out the best product possible (in their minds) so that they can protect their investment.

    But how would you feel if you're in the recording studio making beats and a label executive comes in and tells you how to make beats? You would probably choke him out with a MIDI cable (the ends are a decent size to hold on to).

    Invent Today's Computers in the 90s

    One thing that would have been great back in the day is the technology we have today. On one hand, it would have changed the sound of Hip Hop production drastically like it is today, but it would have also given many more people the chance to make beats without having to struggle with old gear and basic manuals.

    Without fast computers, none of the companies around today would be putting out the products we currently see. If we had fast computers in the 90s or even the 80s, we could have had great DAWs and controllers like we have now. Just imagine the beats that could have been made!

    Continue Manufacturing of Classic Hardware

    In a way this goes against what I just said about computers, but you have to admit that the classic hardware from back then was really good. The TR-808, SP-1200, S-950, etc. all did a great job. These were machines that were not necessarily intended for Rap beats and yet producers used them anyway and they ended up with something dope.

    As time went on, those old machines were no longer needed or even sought after, which is understandable, but as we see today, more and more producers are seeking to replicate those classic machines.

    The problem? They're trying to do it with today's gear and especially with emulators from a plug-in. Some work well, but they will never have that true sound.

    Pull the Plug on the Internet

    Yes, the internet. It's a great invention but it's also terrible. It's great in the sense that any person on the planet can make a beat and email it to someone on the other side of the planet instantly. In situations like that, the internet is extremely useful.

    The bad stuff that makes me want to get rid of the internet? The way people use it. How many times have we all seen posts on Twitter like this:

    "Buy 1, get 1 free! Exclusive beats for $2!!!!".

    Okay, that's exaggerating a bit but you get my point. The internet has turned many beatmakers into "producers" and has ushered in a new generation of beats that are very, very lame. When I look back at the amazing beats from years past to some of the ones that pass as "beats" today - it's incredible. Incredibly bad. Bad meaning bad.

    Before I get back in my time machine, what would you change in the past in Hip Hop production?

    Further Reading About Hip Hop Production
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2017
    DJ Anonymous likes this.
  2. crog85
    Smh... No Cash Money? Mannie Fresh is one of the best and most influential producers from the south, period! and 400 Degreez is one of the south's best albums... ever!!
    EsquireMusic111 likes this.
  3. Fade
    @crog85 LOL, I don't see it. But what would you change in the past?
  4. Ozmosis
    Interesting article... I agree with Crog, Mannie Fresh is a legend... The sound of hip hop changed for me when I first heard Master P "make em say uhh".. I thought the radio station was having signal interference. It sounded a mess but I eventually started to like it.

    If I could go back and change anyting, I would make chopsampling legal, but an obvious loop is when you would have to pay. Puff pays, Primo is good to go lol
    Mike Free Music and crog85 like this.
  5. crog85
    I understand why u say that... but I don't think "Ha" changed rap forever. Growing up in Louisiana, this is the type of music we listened to, we weren't into the east coast/west coast stuff. Around that time, the local music from New Orleans is what everyone was listening to, there were a few outta Baton Rouge, but mainly N.O. A lot of that music too was influenced by New Orleans bounce music. So I don't think it "changed" rap, but it definitely influenced the current sound... The sound was always there, it has just become more popular in recent days with the whole "trap" thing...

    But what would I change? First, I'd go back and take away your time machine lol Then I'd tell Birdman or Lil Wayne to trademark "Bling Bling" haha
    Fade likes this.
  6. Fade
    That's a great idea!

    @crog85 Oh for sure I know a lot of people down south were heavily into that style of music. I don't mean that "Ha" changed everything but yeah it started the massive influence into what we hear today. For that, Mannie Fresh did a great job in influencing but I just never liked that style whatsover. I always loved the South stuff like Organized Noize, Pimp C, and all that Geto Boys Rap-A-Lot stuff, but I just couldn't get into Mannie Fresh's stuff.
  7. OGBama
    @Fade excellent post but if you want to know who to aim vitriol at concerning Rap & R&B's merger surely you remember Whodini. Main things I'd change is commercial dominance of a style mainly 'cause it sells as that is the case with Trap and it recalls to mind for me how Gangsta rap once had everyone imitating. It's important to know that Hip Hop has been Pop since 1979.

    Also about labels influencing music would you make an exception for artist-run labels? Main thing I always hated was people with zero interest in music getting into the music business. BET's Stephen Hill fits that description. I also hate when people from non-musical fields such as athletes trying owning labels.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
  8. Fade
    @OGBama True, there was the Pop influence since 1979 but not on the scale as in the 80's and especially the 90's. With Sugrahill Gang they just used the Good Times beat but Rap was still trying to find itself so I don't consider that period too heavy on the Pop/Rock influence, but I get what you're saying.

    For labels yeah I mean the big ones.
  9. EsquireMusic111
    Okay, but to say Mannie Fresh isn't like that is cut-throat lol... I'm from the South and his sound definitely influenced many of the producers back then bro... Dungeon Family, and the DJ Mustard of today
  10. Mike Free Music
    I agree with chop sampling. Especially if you are rearranging it or making it into a new instrument To me that just like say a Motif or a Phantom sampling a real piano or horns spread out through 88 keys for some one to play at a show.
  11. Mike Free Music
    I disagree with Fade on the computers. I think the reason the hip hop was like it was because of the limitations of the computers and you most likely had to use hardware. You had to be creative to work around those limits. And I think since only a few had the resources you HAD TO BE SERIOUS.. I think it kept some of the clowns away.
  12. Krass1
    I agree 100% with you especially with cash money
    The only thing I disagree with is the same as @Mike Free Music
    The lack of computers was what made it
    Firstly you had to splash out on an mpc or sp-1200
    Fuck my mpc 2000xl was $2400 new
    Yes we get raped here in oz
    This certainly would have kept a lot of the jokers or clowns out
    And it would stop people sampling and chopping the same shit
    A lot of cats go on YouTube look up soul samples
    Premier samples
    Pete rock samples etc...
    Loop up some played out shit and wack some drums on it and they are producers
    I think the fact everyone has a computer
    And access to YouTube
    Cracked /free programs etc...
    Has most def fucked the game ,it has far from made it better
    Great post mate PEACE!!!
    I would have kept sampling underground so that the newer laws on sampling wouldn't be enforced so strongly