I started off making beats probably just like the rest of you, and I sucked. I would start off by trying to get a drum pattern down and give some sort of human touch to it so it didn’t sound robotic, and I would then try to play a short melody on my keyboard. Wrong! I thought it was right at the time but I had no one that could show me the way. Well I’m here to help you, sort of like a Beat Coach. (That’s my new title.)
My Beats Are Ok
This is what I normally tell myself, for the simple reason that I don’t want to make myself think that I’m all that. Sure, I’ve made plenty of beats that were really dope and stood out from the rest, but I always stay humble. It’s like when a team like the Miami Heat (boooooo) go into a place like Washington and take the Wizards for granted. What happens is the Heat end up getting the ball snot kicked in and out of them, and lose. What happened in that scenario? They thought they were all that.
It’s fine to think that your beats are the best thing since sliced bread, and maybe they are, but why tell yourself that? If you look at the countless rappers out there that were struggling coming up, trying to land a guest spot on a famous rapper’s album, struggling just trying to make it. Then they finally reach that top spot in the Hip Hop game, only to lose their street cred, lose their drive to succeed, and lose touch with where they really came from. The same thing applies to making beats.
I love the fact that when I make beats, there’s times where I’m really stressed out, broke, pissed off, there’s noise outside, and I want to punch someone in the face. I’m not saying I enjoy all that nonsense, but the point is that I get into a state that gives me motivation to make some dope beats.
Keep It Real
In order to make dope beats and stay in a constant state of struggle, you have to have that drive. The drive to make something special, but more importantly to “stay true”, as they say. Think of all the times where you heard rappers say things like, “stay true”, “keep it real”, “take it to the streets” – those are all actual words that you need to apply to your beats! So many times I’ve heard “keep it real”, and it’s at the point where it’s just a common saying now, but you can actually use it for your music.
Even athletes have had trouble keeping it real, with many of them doing really well their first few seasons in the league, but then quickly declining for the remainder of their careers. Some athletes do very well, get offered a massive contract, THEN they go belly up.
Making beats should be about the struggle. It doesn’t matter what it is, your struggle could be completely different than mine. Maybe the biggest issue in your life is that the store doesn’t have the blue colored sneakers you wanted, but regardless, use that as your struggle. Some beat makers are living in really bad situations where they barely have any food to eat, or their girlfriend cheated on them (beat makers have girlfriends!?!), either way, use that as your struggle.
Whenever I sit down to hit the pads on my Maschine, I always think of the beat that I’m about to make. Am I in a bad mood? Am I chilled out? Do I want to stab someone in the eye? Good, now make a beat related to that. There was one time a while back where something got me in a really bad mood, I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I stayed in a bad mood most of the day. When I went to make a beat that night, I went nuts on the pads! My drum track alone was HARD. I beat up those pads, I was bobbing my head and really getting into it. Then I went looking for a sample that I could tear apart. All I remember was that it was some sort of piano sample that I chopped up and had cut up across the sixteen pads.
What happened next was basically a blur. I was so involved in the beat that nothing around me mattered. In other words, just like a basketball player who was going off, I was “in the zone”. You could have snuck up behind me with a lead pipe and hit me in the back of the head, it wouldn’t have mattered. Okay, maybe it would have because I would be unconscious, but the point is that until my last dying breath I was making something dope and giving it all I had.
Never settle for mediocre, and never underestimate other beat makers. Always remember that while you’re chilling and playing Xbox, there’s someone else out there that’s making beats. And they’re better than you. Or are they?