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  1. Fade

    Fade

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    Isn't it something how much times have changed? Something that was so technical, so expensive now reduced to such simplicity. What I am speaking of is producing a record. I was watching Ray the other day; I have never watched all of it before since it was released. I've got a problem sitting in one place, I think they call it ADD, so I've only watched bits of it since it was released. But isn't mind boggling how much you had to know then just to get one track together, when Ray wrote/composed he had to think up also the different parts/melodies for the band plus the harmonies for the back-up singers. On top of that he composed for himself the main melodies/lyrics as well. That guy deserves the title of legend, he didn't do that once, he did it for years.

    I joined some guys the other day at the bar and an argument ensued when a song started playing on the radio, the artist I think we should all be familiar with Elephant Man. Never like the fellow much, so I was quite happy to hear somebody besides me dog him out. I will explain my problems with this guy. I am pretty sure this is an epidemic that's taking over the whole world, not just here. There is this disease that has infected the music we listen to and I dub it "hype". Or in layman's terms, everyone wants to make money now and no one wants to take the time to write good music anymore. Now all who are familiar with Jamaica's dancehall know it's all about dancing, so this is what Elephant does - he gets a "hype" hook, does one 8 bar verse and nothing else, repeats the motherfucker like a bitch. We all know club tracks sell, let's blame Lil John for that, the dude had the formula man and I was def down for the ride. But what drives me crazy is why are they repeating the motherfucking formula man?

    Excuse me I am a bit upset. See what has happened is there are artists, record execs, A & R's, who've recognized a formula that sells and they keep dishing them out month after month instead of investing in something innovative and real. In the summer you can count on the sex symbol formula, either some Photoshopped pretty gay looking dude with pink lips and one too many hills on his body gyrating or that catchy songstress who conveniently has a shower or a pole nearby. Yep I agree it caught me a few times. Then we got the beef or I've been shot, been to jail couple a times formula. Then recently this snap to it fever. If it's done once well let's not repeat it please.

    Now back to the subject at the table, I was the youngling at the table, so I knew nothing, I had to keep the pipe closed and take my lessons. I couldn't join much really, I had to have a vast knowledge of yesteryear music a lifetime couldn't teach me. An interesting point came up, (please note I have converted much of the argument so y'all can understand them old people got some terminology), that because it's so much easier now to produce an album we've lost a certain amount of value of what is sent out to the world as finished recordings. It's not the artists' fault they say, it is the listeners. Let's admit, outside of IllMuzik's community there are people who don't even know what a bar or note is or when an artist has missed a note. In fact even some engineers miss out on that too. Why? Because many skip the cost of a professional who's invested life and limb for this, because they can get the recording done by someone who gladly converts words in to actions cheap and fast. Trust me folks, it's bad down here in Jamaica, we got songs on the radio with voices breaking, two different DB levels on the verses, lyrics penned so fast you can still smell the ink. Solutions go back to the good old days.

    But I want to take a look at both sides. What about the artists who face a challenge where damn near everything has been done already in music? So they just settle to being entertainers and make sure they "drop an album once a year for [their] fans' sake" (Ludacris). I looked forward to their answer. The thing is, we love being entertained, without music life's nothing really. What I have a problem with is why take a guess at what we like as fans, why do they try and determine that we're going to like this or that, that's not what they are there for just make music, man. Give us a story that we've all been through, give us a reason to stop our lives for a moment and pay attention to that 4 minutes the song is on don't pile junk on it, be classy. Being honest folks, my head's kind of thick. I don't remember things well especially when old people talk to me, but that little bit has stuck with me.

    Now please note we do not promote illegal downloading here at Ill, so if you can get a legitimate copies of these songs, play them while reading the rest of the article. Here is the playlist:
    • Ambrosia - That's How Much I Feel
    • Player - Baby Come Back
    • Survivor - The Search Is Over
    • Peaches - Reunited
    • Neil Sedaka - Laughter In The Rain
    Most of us won't recognize these artists, why they never made that track that cemented them in our memory forever, but their fame lives on through their music. It's nothing new where artists come on the scene and never make a #1 track, but made several albums which are classics today. So why has this focus shifted from creating classics to dishing out formulas? It's simple - it's a world we don't control. My voice won't make much of a change, but I hope I can influence a few. I have noticed a lot of up and comers, who are not going about this music thing the right way, there's a road and a shortcut in everything we do. Problem is the road's kind of treacherous and many look past that to the limelight, we lay in bed dreaming of guns, girls and money, never looking to slow down on the way to learn.

    Let us all face facts - many of us here at Ill may never make it big time, or catch on to that dream of a house for mama, nice car and loose change in the pocket. Reason is we're too focused on that, dreaming kills a dream because you're never awake to make it a reality. You know what I have a problem with is the definition of "big time". It does not mean BET, MTV or VH1. Big time folks is getting paid to do what you love, don't get caught in the clouds of fame. Fame will find you when you've become the greatest at what you do as a producer. I get noticed here in Jamaica easily, simply because I have developed my own formula. My productions speak my soul, when I sit to make a beat it has to be inspired and when I write I want my songs legendary. I don't want an old guy at a domino table hearing a song I produce getting up and turning it off, because I have decided to follow "hype" and not my heart. So, you choose...

    Conclusion

    I have never written an inspirational article before, being honest I don't like boring people to death you know and what's more boring than life lessons. But I only hope to accomplish one thing, a change of vision... instead of focusing on fame let us focus on our skills to make our music better; song writing classes, instrument lessons, voice training classes even if we can't sing. Experience teaches us the world, and I believe the world needs that now, change.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2015