Hip Hop song

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by Brother Junk, Nov 8, 2016.

  1. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    Warning: This song would be labeled explicit lyrics. However it's being made for radio (eventually maybe lol) so, it's not chock full of it. He basically uses the N word a few times, but he is black, I feel like that makes a big difference lol. And I'm not in the habit of telling anyone what they can say or not say.

    So I read the rules @DonnyThompson posted. The guitar and vocals in the song are actually recorded. The drums are played also, but through a vst so I'm not sure if it counts.

    I'll accept any advice given. What I'm most curious about is if you feel like the drums are too soft for the content? Or if I'm making the high hat too rhythmic with his lyrics?

    What happened is I had original drums. I told the rapper what I wanted the song to be about, and he gave it life. So I wrote the instrumental, and the song idea...not the lyrics.

    I'm also unsure if, or what direction (if any) I should go with the guitar. Am I confusing the song by using it the way I am?

    I need to take his adlibs down a bit too. So, the mix is rough, but for learning's sake, I'm going to post it and see what people think.

    Sometimes I use melodyne to put the artist more in tune. In this I haven't...thoughts on that?

    (again it's really rough, some guitar parts I hit the wrong note and haven't fixed it yet. The attack of some of the strings isn't right yet, I'm just wondering what people think before I take it further in this direction...not so much a "fix the mix" (although I take what I can get), but more like, "help me clarify the direction" lol.

     
  2. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    P.s. That guitar is being played through a Rockman (for those who know what it is) but I'm not sure I'm thrilled with the sound of it/
     
  3. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    It's that good huh? lol. I'm sure people are busy reading election stuff.

    You can hear the groove I'm playing at the end. I'm curious to the drummers out there if that sounds right. I can't tell you what it is or how to count it. I'm still learning that stuff, but when I take the original drums out and play my own, that's what comes out. I kind of like the fact that it's so in time with his lyrics, but I would appreciate a real musician's opinion...

    Edit - That's also about as complicated of a drum beat as I am capable of right now. I would like to do more fills etc, but I'm not there yet. I can play a fill by itself and add it after...but if I do it during, I lose the rhythm.
     
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    I can't comment because it's not my thing; I'm not familiar with what's good - or bad - in hip hop.
    I mean, as an engineer, sonically it sounds "okay" to me, but with my limited (very) experience of producing or mixing in this style, I'm really not the guy to rely on for a concrete critique.

    You need someone who is more familiar of this genre to weigh in.
     
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  5. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    Sonically, I think you are being too kind. It's a little flat, but I'm not good enough yet to know how to fix that. It's an element or two of the song missing, not the sound necessarily.

    I get what you are saying, if someone asked me for critique on their new age jazz track...I have no idea what it should be. For the sake of learning, can I try to break it down for you?

    You look like a guitar player...how sloppy is that guitar playing? And does it seem to fit the song? I can redo it, or better yet, have my father do it (he's the real deal with the axe).

    The rest of the track is pretty clean, and the vocals are pretty clean, I feel like the guitar has a little too much amp on it.

    If that is you in the picture, you also look old enough to remember Rockman's? I'm speaking of them nostalgically, maybe they still make them. I haven't had anything but an acoustic in 20 years.
     
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    i don't think you are asking the right group of people. not too many fans of rap here.
     
  7. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Well-Known Member

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    I thought you were a curmudgeony old white guy - I expected "Freebird" or something of that ilk - certainly not this. Like Donny - I've got almost no exposure to this style of music - and it's not just a matter of taste - I'm not sure I even have a context on how it's supposed to sound.

    I see what you are trying to do I think; a sort of hybrid of a rap track over a proper music track? I'd say the guitar sounds maybe a bit too thin for that - I think you need to make it orchestral/bigger. I also think you need to decide what you are playing on the guitar (what's thematic and essential and what's throw-away) and lock those parts in - everything's just a little too arbitrary right now to have purpose. Get those hooks in - and set them hard and forget about the chaff. The only other comment I can make really is how flat the track is in it's development/progression. I don't get any sense of build or dynamics - any development of theme or narrative. There are a few motifs here and there but they don't seem quite big enough to carry the song (which presupposes the song wants to be carried). It also kind of whimpers out so I think you need to woodshed this a bit and work out what you want from this track. What's it trying to be and say -- and is it being that? or saying that?
     
  8. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    LOL....you caught that huh? Yeah, I'm a little lost lol.

    TY so much! I understand exactly what you are talking about. I think I have a plan....

    P.s. You phrased your critique remarkably well, I get everything you said.
     
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    Yeah, it's me. Old enough to vividly recall tail fins on cars. LOL

    I still have a Rockman sustainor and a chorus/delay knockin' around here somewhere from the early 80's.

    I'm gonna hook up my monitors and give this another listen. I'll get back to you. ;)
     
  10. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    LMAO!!!!
     
  11. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    It's taken down for now, till I make some changes
     
  12. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    Brother J... try not to do that, for two reasons... the first is that it creates a "dead link" and that can affect RO's search engine rankings; and the second reason, is that because RO is a Problem-Based-Learning ( "PBL") forum, it helps those who are listening, or even visiting for the first time or two, to be able to hear and compare changes that you make along the way. It allows people to hear the differences between the tracks, and apply what you've done along the way to what they hear, and accordingly, what they learn as a result. ;)
     
  13. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    I'll put where I'm at back up for now.

    Technically, and I know this is my fault for posting it in the first place, I'm not supposed to release it publicly before he has the final copy. But I know the guy and it's fine for this instance.

    What I'll do soon is bounce a copy w/o his vocal. It's the musical composition part that gets me. I can do drums (I like my drums on this one actually). It's the song writing part.

    I've written a few songs that people have bought. One was bought by a label when they signed the artist. But it's sheer luck that I land on something that comes together. Like 1/10 things that I write, people really like.

    So I started over....that's what you'll hear above. My drums (I played those on the ROlands, and then added effects) and a looped baseline that 1. I feel like gives the song a different vibe 2. That vibe goes with his voice well 3. His vocal has room to shine....he has an interesting voice.

    Then I could do some more work on his vocal to make it even better.

    The drums are midi...so I plan on adding some drops, differentiations etc. Right now they are just looped.

    The original song key was Bbm. But the string progressions were Db. I thought I would be tricky there...but the whole thing....I'm just lost for a direction with it. So I stripped it.

    I may just add some tiny stuff like samples, and make the drums a feature, and his voice a feature. I like the drums that much.

    And you will see what I mean with the song....I can play a little guitar (well, if you heard the previous version you heard that) and a little drums....but I know very little about theory/composition. Not enough to make a song by design....it either happens or it doesn't. So if anyone has some very simple ideas, I'm open.
     
  14. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    P.s. I think I notice this about Logic sometimes. Does it seem like it goes out of time around the :50 second mark?

    Almost any Logic thing I work on for a long time, that starts to happen, or maybe I'm just crazy.
     
  15. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    Had a chance to listen to it. I'm fairly knowledgeable about hip hop ala 90's early 2k style. Here's some thoughts.

    Overall it's decent just needs some fine tuning.

    The track needs a hook. Aka chorus.

    I'm otnsure if that's what the space is between versus or not but those spaces are too long otherwise. I'd cut them in half.

    To me the vocals either need more gloss or more grit, tonally it lacks some personality. So maybe some sort of subtle tape saturation or saturation pluggin gently for the gritty, or just a bit more 10-12k air for gloss.

    I'd also try the typical thickening w a pitch shifter (stereo) were one side is +3-6 cents the other side is - 3-6 cents so the vocal sounds wider and bigger.

    I'd also opt for a short delay maybe 1/8 dotted 1/8 or even 16th very subtly to help bring some life. Using a stereo delay you can 'dot' one side for some asymmetrical movement on the track.

    The ad lib track should also have its own tone/sound IMHO. Perhaps a telephone effect or longer 1/4 delay, or modulation effect.

    I think Jay-zs older records like reasonable doubt or hard knock life vol.2 would be good references for the vocal sound.

    The musical track needs what's known as a 'pad' element in mixing. Some sort of a sound usually like keyboard chords ringing or a repetitive lick of some sort from the guitar. It needs something swimming in the backroud preferably moving in stereo. This is not to detract from the vocal or call attention to itself, rather fill in the track. You should notice more when it's gone then when it's there. For effect you might want to mute it the last verse or last two bars of the verse, or start a later verse without it and drop it halfway.

    I can't judge the lows becuase my phone doesn't do lower than 2-300hz.

    It's these touches that will bring it from a sort of static track/mix to a more polished finished sounding song. None of these suggesteions need to have the spotlight on them (at least not for more than a couple moments) rather if you add them like salt and pepper to the track, each just a little bit and subtle, together they'll combine for a more exciting listening experience.

    I also suggest doing an edited version of the track since the N word can be sensitive. Growing up here where I did it's important that people understand yournusing it in good taste and appropriately. People in the know understand it's slang and can actually mean friend in some cases, but it's also a case of certain people may not think you or whoever has the right to say that either.

    It's not a big deal but for the general public particularly it's good to have both edited and un edited versions. Either replace the word w a different one or bleep it one way or another. It's important to not sound crass. In other circles it won't matter.
     
  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    Uhmm...Yeah... well...

    I guess I'm of the generation where many of us can't find an "appropriate" use of that word, or accept that it can be said in "good taste".

    Most of us Baby Boomers remember when that word was never said in a "friendly" way, that even if there was the rare occurrence where it wasn't said with hate or disdain, that it was still said with a sense of white superiority; but all too often it was filled with hate; with violence not very far behind.

    I'm old enough to remember being on a trip with my parents in the early 60's; we traveled down south to take my grandmother to a family reunion of cousins she had in Mississippi - and stopping at a gas station somewhere in rural Alabama, where there were two bathrooms - a men's, a women's .... and then a sign with the word "n*****s" painted on it ... with an arrow pointing down a path behind the station... which led to a ditch.

    But, I'm willing to accept - in the artistic sense, anyway - that the word has become more "acceptable" to younger generations. The world turns...

    And, as a word used between black people, whether meant in a friendly way, or a joking way, or even in anger, I get that it's their right to say it to each other ...

    But I won't lie, guys - I still wince every time I hear that word, regardless of its context or who is saying it.
    It's my own cross to bear, I suppose; and being honest, I had a hard time getting past the use of that word in order to present any kind of sonic advice.
    That said, Rap and HH aren't really my "thing" anyway, so even if "that word" wasn't in the lyrics, I'd still not be the guy to rely on for any helpful critique. ;)

    I'm glad that Kyle was able to remain objective about it, and to weigh-in with suggestions for you, though.
    He is one of the pro's here on RO, and I consider him to be a colleague and a peer - and without a doubt, he's absolutely a cat I respect; with ears and knowledge that I would most certainly trust.
    I already have, on more than one occasion.
    He talked me down off the ledge numerous times back when I was working on the last album project I did last year; several people here did...
    He gave great insight, and was able to help me look at things from an angle I wasn't able to see myself at the time. ;)

    FWIW
    -d.
     
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  17. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    I'm so sorry....I forgot to mention I have a girl who will sing the hook. She is amazing. I basically give her the song when it's her turn, and she will write the melody, lyrics, everything, just based on what is there. That's why there are those 8 bar voids. Sorry all.
    Nope, you are right, that's what they are for.
    Awesome K! I will try that for sure. Today in fact. Does any specific plug in for this situation come to mind? I have a few, but I'm always interested in finding out what other people use.
    This is great stuff, bc you called it "typical" and I've never heard of it. I get the idea though
    I've also never heard of/tried this!!
    Yeah, the track you heard, I stripped everything out. I went through the song and wrote down every progression etc...and I think @DogsoverLava was correct. I need to strip it down and start over with more intention. I just through that bass line in there bc I like the contrast with his voice. But I get what you mean, there needs to be a melody and hook. I just wasn't happy with what I had.
    I hear ya K. That's the exact discussion I had with the artist. That's why you only hear the N word (and i noticed the P word) bc they are easily edited.

    If you mean I should have edited it for here, I can see your point. If people are offended, it's my fault. I assumed most people were over it by now. But the only reason he is not saying cuss, after cuss, after cuss, is because I told him he needs to make some material that can be radio edited. If anyone was offended I apologize. If Brizzle was white, I would feel very differently about it.

    I see where you are coming from, and I understand your viewpoint. My opinion is, I hear the word in use, on a regular basis, that has absolutely no racist intent, or effect. Both parties are smiling as it's said, so the word in those instances, obviously has a different meaning. Languages change and evolve, and words and their meanings change and evolve. There are no exceptions to that, and I don't see why this word should be a forced exception. You can't force it. I also see a differentiation between who can use it and who can't and I don't see that as a double standard, or a "problem" that I can't work around. I'm not black, so I just don't say it, ever. I hear the argument made sometimes that, if it's a bad word, nobody should say it. Almost like an "equal penalty for all." So if white people can't say it, then black people shouldn't say it. Which, by the same rule, = "If black people can say it, then white people should be able to say it." Imo, both of those arguments are non-starters that skip a whole lot of history.

    When I hear that, what I hear is white people, telling black people, what they should/shouldn't say, and how they should or shouldn't feel, about a word that white people, spent our entire lives on the other side of. It's not my place to tell Indians how they should feel about "Redskins" or any group to feel about any word. Bc I find it ugly, doesn't mean that they also should. Or that the meaning they have given it, is invalid. I mean, think about how that looks to the people on the other side. It comes across like, "No, you non-white people don't choose when or where that word is appropriate, we do. We always have, and we always will." That is what I mean when I say I'm not in the habit of telling people what they can/can't say. Outside of just blunt force racism, which I usually don't see anyway, who am I to tell any group what they can/cannot say. Or what a word should mean, in their culture. It's not my, or anyone outside that culture imo, place to say. I think K, Donny and I are on the same page, just expressing the thought differently.

    I think it's admirable Donny that you feel so strongly that it's an ugly word. I don't use it. But all of the above is why I don't have a problem when black people say it to each other or use it in their art. It's the same phenomenon almost everywhere you look. I hear female friends call either b* or slut, but same scenario, I couldn't do the same...I'm not one of them.

    Perhaps YOUR female friends don't do that...mine don't....but these are the social rules I've observed. Think of almost any group, and you can think of a word that is used in a derogatory manner towards them, which they will often flip to mean something different amongst themselves. Except for white men....who ironically, are often the ones telling other people what they can/can't say. But if you are not part of that group (black, women, latino etc) the "buddy" meaning of the word is not yours to use. I don't find it that hard. But I truly do understand why some people don't like it. I just respectfully disagree. Maybe this should be it's own thread.

    Just to be clear to all, I'm not saying the word is "ok" or fine to use, or without consequence. All I'm saying is, I feel very strongly (and logically imo) that it's not my place to say. I'm not offended that this was brought up, or that people feel how they feel. But, that's how I feel. And to @kmetal and @DonnyThompson , I think your explanations as to why you feel how you feel were very good. A lot of people have not had that experience, which I think leads to the use of the word.

    And I appreciate your willingness to offer suggestions despite different artistic opinions. I'm not a fan of the word either.
     
  18. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    Slate vtm could help, waves rennessince eq, some of the many saturation pluggins out there.

    It dates back from the days of the eventide harmonizer. I didn't learn how common it was until I started working at the studio.

    As far as the lyrics go, it's not so much about freedom but being aware of consequence and perception. As producer it's the persons job to make the artist aware of how this would be perceived and how it limits or doesn't thentraget audience and potential placement / use of the song.

    In the grand scheme of things given the genre it's not a big deal. As far as radio play or other usages there needs to be an edited version.
     
  19. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    I hear you. He has gotten the "talk" on many, many, occasions. I think we've done 5 or 6 songs together, and I've given him feedback on a lot of his stuff.

    The reason that this is the only objectionable word in the song is because that is him, toning it down. This entire project started as an idea for a song I had, and he was going to try his hand at using less profanity, to make a more radio friendly track.

    Most of the time, when I offer suggestions for stuff like this, it isn't given a whole lot of attention. But this guy will actually listen to what I say and try to grow. But anyway, he gave me the vocals thinking it was 100% radio friendly. So, you can imagine what his baseline level profanity is.

    That is the goal...it's just the last step when I have done it in the past.

    I'm upstairs now fiddling with your suggestions....and seriously, TY!!!!!!!
     
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  20. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    Song has been edited. I apologize for any ill effect from not doing that in the first place.
     

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