Slice & Dice
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Battle Points: 1
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