Thursday, August 2, 2012

24 Jul 12 - Producers Summit

Hey, blogspot readers, give SouthSide a beat! Tonight, at the Guitar Center (located in Lincoln Park/Lakeview area) was the site for a special yet intimate gathering where indie producers near and far (as in St. Louis, MO) received some helpful advice and insite about being a producer as well as battled their best beats against each other in front of Grammy Award winners, S1 (Symbolic 1) and Rhymefest along with Stephen - Rhymefest's engineer. This was an extremely rare chance and opportunity for those up and coming producers of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and sex to be a part of this Producers Summit. The FREE event was presented by Music Industry Workshop in conjunction with The Guitar Center featuring Brand Aok (of iStandard Productions) hosting and taking on the moderating duties during the Q & A session throughout the open public event.

After a brief welcome to the session by the manager of this Guitar Center Location, Rhymefest opened with a brief history into his rising career as a Battle Fest rapper (noting that Chicago has the best Battle Fest rappers) trying to make a name for himself which included winning a battle against Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem). His connection to Jay-Z and many others began with his connection with Kanye West who was making beats for him because at the time, according to Rhymefess, no one wanted to hear Kanye rap. Soon he was signed to a major (R&B) label however became indie to learn more about being a producer and the craft with Kanye. Besides music, many voters in Chicago should recognize this artist because of his run for the aldermanic race in the 20th ward against Alderman Willie Cochran. Though unsuccessful, it did put this hometown producer in the media spotlight about his passion for community activism to which he currently felt has more of an impact through his new venture - Project Moses with Symbolic 1. Not really going into too many details, Rhymefest did hint that this organization will create its own label as well as sign indie artists to it.

Meanwhile S1 (or Symbolic 1) offered a quick look into his 15 years as a producer which started off making beats for Strange Fruit Project on an indie level before working full-time. Then he met and started collaborating with Little Brother for a while which led up to his meeting with Kanye West via Rhymefest whom he sent a sample of his beats who in turn had Kanye check out. According to S1, "...relationships are so important ...the relationships you build will help in your journey in this industry..." For S1, his journey over the last 15 years has been built on making good connections (ie relationships) around other artists that he had the chance of meeting. Lastly, Stephen, a man of many few words, spoke rather briefly about his career as an engineer and mixer but that didn't stop Rhymefest for truly highlighting how much appreciated this person was to him. The artist stated that Stephen besides being an engineer also had a brilliant mind not just for how music and instruments should sound (has a rock band) but for the business side of the industry too. According to Rhymefest, he has written proposals for him calling the engineer his "...partner..." For Rhymefest, he was able to see a different prospective of music as a business than just producing beats for Jay-Z or Kanye or Beyonce et al.

Now it was time for a brief session of Q & As amongst the participants in this crowded back room and the first question was about how to maintain relationships. Both artists highly recommended to everyone that they be "...a man of [their] word ...follow through if [they] promise something, then do it..." Doing this certainly shows what kind of person you are to others who might in turn tell others and so on and so forth. S1 also added  "...doing small things and being kind..." to the mix. Meanwhile, Rhymefest also highlighted the point if someone does you wrong, don't go with the impulse to snap on people which brought up the follow up question - how to handle a situation when someone has done you wrong. He suggested considering how to use that situation as leverage to your advantage and/or knowing when to walk away from the relationship with your services and pride in tact. Also he advised, if considering the non-profit route, find what you're interested in or want to promote. "...[you] do not have to do everything what people do..." Both agreed that you have to make music "...that's special to you musicians, we're suppose to be starting trends not be controlled..." That is something SouthSide can agree with. "...if you make music, be a leader and have the followers follow you..."

The next question dealt with on how to handle the direction of a song from different points of view. It was advised that having strong communication and discussions ...thus trading and creating concepts and ideas to build a song. Rhymefest stated that as a writer he's open to edit and has full trust (as well as faith) in the producer, artist, etc. It was suggested that many young musicians and producers don't know how to handle this to which you need to be mature and professional. Then it was asked what was the difference working with major label and indie. Symbolic 1 said there are similarities but with an indie artists it's easier to get your money up front compared to the major label since there's a network of people who have to sign off on your check. According to him, depending on the artists, creativity is cut out and all because of - technology. "...everyone wants you email, pick and then demo the track..." while with indie artists "...[there's] more creativity..." because you're able to work closely with them. Another asked S1 since he was from out of state how did he make relationships outside from where he was from. Jokingly he replied there's " much I can do by staying locked in a room..." yet at the end of the day, it's all about that one beat. And since he wanted to put himself out there, he began entering events and showcases despite spending money he didn't have. But it was necessary if he wanted to take his career to the next level. His advice was " and maintain relationship" Before taking a break for two separate producer battles, the last question asked was about how production had changed over the years. Back in SouthSide's day (and yes, she's dating herself again), there was no software just hardware (ie think of that episode of Everyone Hates Chris when he wanted to be a DJ) for creating beats. S1 being sort of old school he didn't want to switch to software after getting quite familiar with his V8Fx soundboard and sampling tools but did switch over upon discovering the sound was greater and was able to manipulate different sounds better.

Just because it as Rhymefest and S1 judging the producer battles, don't think the battling contestants were treated lightly, Oh no - these two artists offered honest and constructive criticism (as SouthSidewould do when reviewing a show) to each of the contestants on what they could do better to how to improve, add, subtract, etc from the sample heard, blogspot readers. Here's a sample of what happened in round 1:  Blitz Beatz was first to which S1 said it was great but it need some tweaking and limit stock sound while Rhymefest stated it was really good however the intro was too long. It didn't have the same build up as the drop. Next, representing the ladies, was Michelle and her track - S1 said it had too much going on (at once) to which she needed to make sure each sound had its own space and identity while Rhymefest wondered (as an artist) if he could rap over it saying the track didn't have enough groove to rap to. There was Treymaine (this reviewer apologizes if name is misspelled) to which both judges liked a lot. Rhymefest began rapping his opinion about the track in time with the beat and declaring it the winner with Blitz Beatz as runner up. Other battle contestants included Buggin' Beatz (the track didn't have enough umph to take it anywhere though loving the pianos used) and Stadium Status (the drums stood out amidst the melody but also needed the right sounding drum beat for this particular track). How does one make the drums harder? "...know your monitors ...know how drums are suppose to sound..."

Here's a sample from round 2: Abliteration took the spotlight with his track to which Rhymefest said it sound like sounds were clashing together ...there was no personality and S1 said he needed to understand (as well as play with) the EQ ...clean everything up, buld it and clean to improve - beware of the instruments. Stephen commented "...instead of adding ...cutting to what the human ear can hear..." Then there was Foo and his track had the a unique drum beat but no groove to which Rhymefest advised that producers should know how people move (ie look at what drugs are popular) meanwhile S1 though liking the track had to agree with Rhymefest since he too was expecting it to go somewhere. J-Hush was next and he received compliments about his track because both judges immediately recognized that he's a producer who knows how to mix very well. According to Rhymefest, the track demonstrated his professionalism and S1 said the song was ready for airplay. Again both judges like the track by Matthew in which S1 said it was "...dope..." because it was "...a real feel good track..." showing his musicianship and Rhymefest liked how the music made him feel because of its vibe stating we needed more producers and music like his. Also battling in this round was Joy (needed more element [ie melody] in her track was too plain though having some style) and Black Norris (both agreed the track was a hip hop joynt though a little dated with the drums). Winners for this round were Matthew and Foo but everyone who attended this session wanted their music to be heard and judged tonight though sadly couldn't due to time constraint.

In the end, blogspot readers, it was a very informative though brief look into the world as a producer within the music industry. One, she hopes, each participant learned something to improve as well as better their craft.

Until next time, support your local scene,

1 comment:

  1. Southside,

    Have not a familiarity with battle rapping, but rap seems like common man poetry to a beat, not necessarily in a iambic pentameter.



Thank you for your feedback - SouthSide