Archive for the ‘Industry’ Category

3 July

Episode 9 – Production techniques (Chopped Sample and Rearrangement)

Ced Gee from The Ultramagnetic MCs – Production techniques (Chopped Sample and Rearrangement)

Ced Gee

Ced Gee

Production techniques have evolved over time in Hip Hop but at times there have been instances which have sparked an evolutionary jump. In a previous Changing The Game episode, I talked about how 9th wonder evolved software based production but time we are going to talk about a hardware based producer.


9 May

Episode 8 – Do you need a record label?

Internet and downloading music

Question: As a recording artist right now, do you really need a record label?


This is a very interesting topic right now if you are an artist or if you are trying to start a record label. We first need to understand what record labels do and can do for you. Record labels can help you sell units (we will use the term units since one can buy CDs, records and now MP3s). They can also provide you with national and international distribution as well. They are great machines in the promotion of music. Some have the infrastructure to make you a star but some demand you give up creative control in the process. What if you did not need anything a record label had to offer…then what? Prestige, the ability of offload all that stuff to the record label or just to say your on a major or minor label. Hmmm (more…)

2 April

Episode 7 – Gold without radio play

Question: When did it become possible for a Hip Hop Artist or Group to sell 500,000 units without radio airplay?

N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton

N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton

This feat was successfully done by west cost Hip Hop group N.W.A. with their LP entitled “Straight Outta Compton” which they led up to with their self titles LP “N.W.A. And The Posse.” Let’s realize when this was done too. This was done in the late 1980s. Downloading music was not a concept yet and vinyl and cassette tape were the mediums in which music was produced and sold to the masses. All throughout the music world, getting radio play was a sure way to sell records. If the song got played on radio, then it would sell. Therefore Hip Hop artists made their songs radio friendly for just that purpose. I’m not just talking about clean lyrics… music production was a little more polished and hooks and choruses were very catchy. N.W.A. did the very opposite. In fact their name N.W.A. stands for N****s With Attitudes and they really meant that. They cursed, berated women and made sure they said extremely negative things about the public law enforcement agencies. To be honest they just didn’t give a f**k!! Most radio stations have “Family Value” images to uphold and playing a song from N.W.A. would not be appropriate. Even though N.W.A. made a conscious effort to make radio friendly versions of their songs none of them really got radio play. (more…)

6 March

Episode 6 – DJ Competitions

Question: How do you know who the best Hip Hop DJ in the world is?

Tony Prince

Tony Prince

The usual way to find out the best of something is with a competition. Well, we’ll start there. Disco Mix Club b.k.a. DMC, not to be confused with legendary rapper Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run-DMC fame, started out having DJ contests in the early 1980s. The contests were for dance music DJs. That all changed when DJ Cheese entered in 1986 and introduced scratching to that contest. DJ Cheese won that year. It set a new precedence for the DJ competition and this became a pivotal point in DMC too. I’m sure the staff at DMC was wondering “Do we continue to allow Hip Hop DJs in this competition or try to get back the old format?” Tony Prince president of DMC and the rest of the DMC staff thought about it and decided to change the contest to be a Hip Hop DJ contest and the rest is history. The prestige of DMC eventually rose to the point where if you won DMC then you were the best in the world. (more…)

15 January

Episode 4 – Software Based Production

When did “software based production” get popular in Hip Hop?

9th Wonder

9th Wonder

This is a very interesting topic but this all can be traced to one person, 9th Wonder. Back in the 1970’s when Hip Hop started everyone was rhyming over disco music. Just looping an R&B or Disco song was good enough. Beat machines were the next phase in Hip Hop. Legendary producer Kurtis Mantronik of the Hip Hop group Mantronix was a producer who popularized the The Roland TR 808 and TR 909 beat machines in the 1980’s. Then sampling became the thing to do and it was all hardware based and that hardware was very expensive to purchase. The Large Professor at 18 years of age asked his mother to purchase E-mu SP-1200 Drum Machine/Sampler which became a popular in the 1990’s. She agreed but in the process had to max out 3 credit cards for him to get it. As sampling (and getting those samples cleared – Check Episode 2 for more detail) became more of a dominant thing in Hip Hop music the hardware that was used to make music got better. (more…)

4 November

Episode 2 – Sampleing Laws

Sampling Laws

Question: Why is it so important to make sure your samples are cleared? What happens if you don’t?

Biz Markie - I Need A HaircutThis person found that out for us… the hard way. In 1991 Biz Markie changed Hip-Hop and the entire music industry when he sampled Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again” for his song entitled “Alone Again” and stuck the song on his album entitled “I Need A Hair Cut.” Biz Markie did this with out getting that sample cleared. Let’s also realize that he just had a platinum single in “Just A Friend” and a gold album in “The Biz Never Sleeps.” He had the potential to sell another million records on his next album. In his defense, rumor has it that Biz Markie and/or Warner Brothers at least tried to contact O’Sullivan to get the sample cleared but O’Sullivan was in solitude and no one was really able to contact him. After O’Sullivan and/or his record label found out about this song and uncleared sample there was a lawsuit between Grand Upright Music, Ltd v. Warner Bros. Records Inc. in which Warner Bros. (which is the label that Biz Markie was on) at the time lost. (more…)