*** ill o.g. ***
Battle Points: 1
It can be tough to compete in a Beat This! Competition when there's no theme, because it's anyone's game. Recently, A Tha Great came through and took the win with a really dope beat. Let's find out what he's all about...
Sup, A Tha Great, tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Alex aka A Tha Great. I was born and raised in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex in Texas. I've always had a deep love for music. Always listening and critiquing rap whether it be classic albums or brand new songs that just came out. I always loved to listen to the instrumentation of a track and always looked for some ear candy such as a tiny cymbal or synth pushed way to the back that nobody notices.
One day I was in a recording session with a couple of friends watching them make beats and rap over them. I used to always hear different sounds that they could add or things that could be changed but at the time I wasn't knowledgeable enough to actually add it to the beat. I remember going home thinking "I'm gonna learn how to make beats so I can show them how to make theirs better" I went home that night and watched a million how-to videos thinking I'd be great over night. After many weeks of failing I began to develop my own sound. A couple of months later I joined the IllMuzik community and won my first beat battle. That really solidified that making beats was for me. I appreciate you guys for that opportunity.
Your winning beat from a recent Beat This! Competition was really smooth. How would you describe your sound?
To be honest I can't even describe the sound. I just got this feeling when I made it that just made me feel very relaxed and thoughts began to bounce around in my head. I still feel a certain way when I listen to the beat now. Those feelings are always what I go for when making a beat because I know my audience will feel a certain way when they hear it.
How did you put together that winning beat?
The way I put this beat together was just a little thinking and a lot of emotion. I knew that I wanted to enter in this month's beat competition and I know what sounds good to the IllMuzik community. I just wanted to make something I knew you guys could feel and enjoy.
It's always hard to judge beat battles, especially when there's no theme. What's your mindset going into a battle?
When I go into a beat battle my mindframe is the same as any other competition. I love the art but at the same time I know that I'm the best so I envision myself winning already. As soon as my beat finishes downloading in my head I'm thinking "I just won". After working long and hard to hone your skills every producer should always have this confidence.
I noticed on your website that you have tons of beats for sale. How long have you been selling beats?
Back a couple years ago when I was still pretty new to producing, I stumbled upon a producer by the name of Postman. He always talked about making a website and turning my creations into cash. I was a bit skeptical at first because I like to work with artist on a personal level. Hard times hit and I needed some cash so I created a beat site for about 16 bucks. I followed all the steps he gave me to making it successful. I found that I could still have a relationship with artists over the internet and not just in person. I've been utilizing my beat site ever since. So about 2 years now.
What are some of the pros and cons of selling beats?
It's always good to sell beats because you make cash but you always want to make sure you're going about it the right way. Don't let the opportunity of a quick buck devalue your creation! Nowadays people are leasing beats for 20 bucks a piece which really changed the game. I prefer to build a good relationship with an artist and maybe make them a custom beat and sell it whole. That's the way it's meant to be but if you want to lease them out that's fine too.
Always make sure you have your ownership and paperwork correct because that's the way you end up losing money, time and most valuable - your beat.
From my experience, people that buy beats are looking for whatever's hot at the moment. How do you work with that mentality?
People are always looking for the next best thing or what's hot and that fine because they are consumers just like we as people are. As a business we have to give them what they want and keep them satisfied. I know the idea of making Trap beats is a complete turn off to some, but if that's what's hot right now and you want to sell u gotta get cookin'. I feel like if you want to make whatever you prefer, you can still make sales, just have to find your target audience. Always remember to have love in whatever you do it won't ever steer you wrong.
What's in your lab?
Right now in my lab I'm just runnjng the basics. My computer is an HP eEnvy with an i7 processor, 2 TB hard drive and 16 gigs of RAM. If you're looking to by a new laptop never go the cheap route, you will regret it later as your skills improve. I'm running my sounds through an M-Audio interface and into two KRK monitors. My eyes are kind of bad so instead of my computer monitor I run the video through an old 32 inch flatscreen I have. Last but not least I have been using a Novation Launchkey keyboard which I am madly in love with. Takes care of all my automation needs quickly.
Is there one piece in your setup that you can't live without?
One piece of equipment I won't even make beats without is my keyboard. After switching from my standard laptop keyboard to this one, I could never go back. I can control my sounds way better using it and it speeds up the productivity greatly. It also stops me from having to beat up my computer so much because we all know that when you put drums in you're smashing the buttons.
I try to make beats as much as possible but it also comes down to whether or not I'm inspired. What about you?
Every now and the inspiration is sure to run dry. On days like these I just find something else to do musically. Weather it be to find new artists, mix a beat down, or studying. It's always good to remember that sometimes forcing yourself to work can do more damage than it does help. Making beats is an art, if it's not there then it's not there. Sometimes taking a day or two off can really bring back the intensity and drive once you get back at it. Just don't quit.
Alright, thanks for doing the interview. Any words of wisdom?
My advice to those out there reading this would be to never give up. I had plenty of times where I just sat there on YouTube listening to other producers thinking I'd never be as good as them. Hopelessness would set in from time to time. That would be the time I get myself together and just keep practicing because repetition is key.
Being a successful producer is a reward all in itself because you put blood sweat and tears into it and didn't give up. I think that's what it takes to make it. Good conversations with artists and a lot of hard work and perseverance will get you where you need to be!
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