Archive for the It’s A Rap! Category

I Used To Make Music

Posted in Anatomy Of A Beat, I Used To Make Music, It's A Rap!, Music, Print on March 14, 2014 by Lupa

Music was my first love and to some extent will always remain the medium in which I get the most satisfaction.  If I had to choose being blind or deaf, you might see me with dark shades, a stick and an obedient dog, mainly because of music.  Thankfully I’m not aware of any person who was tasked with choosing their own disability, though I am a firm supporter of choice in most situations.  And at least I’d never hand you a card saying I was deaf and needed money…blind and needed money maybe.

Many people I’ve met after I stopped making music are surprised I have the ability to not only produce music, but I can play a few instruments with varying degrees of mediocrity.  Many people who did know me while making  music might be surprised how much effort I had to put in.  As much as I loved music, in comparison with others that I felt were equally or superior skilled than I, it just seemed easier for them.  After that realization, and of course the reality of the music industry being a shady, cutthroat place where style is often and usually valued over and rewarded handsomer than substance, I knew I would never want to be in an arena in which I didn’t feel that my supremacy and domination of others would be hindered by something as trite as inferiority, or rather perhaps an inferiority complex.  As if.

Everything is more enjoyable when you are good at it and it comes easy.  All the talk of practice makes perfect is great, but limitations are limitations and getting to a professional level is highly and deceptively laborious unless you have natural talent, with no assurances that reaching that level will even get you paid.  Also worth noting is that in today’s music world those limitations are often dictated by your music budget.  The reality is many people make it in music simply because someone else realized they could make money off them and in order to attract that you need to move in ways I find anathema.  You’ve got to play a role, whether thats you or not.  There’s a reason a lot of musicians get into acting, its because they ARE actors.

Still I managed to make a lot stuff I really like to this day, stuff that I would objectively listen to had another person made it, even if some of the quality is a bit low fi (cough, shitty).  I’m going to take this moment to post some of my favorite compositions with a little story on each.  It’ll be an ongoing thing…

I Have The Power

I Have The Power

This track has samples many will recognize, mainly from He-Man and Heathcliff.  “Blankito’s Way” was like my trademark on something.  Most of these were made after I moved to the Bronx, and that’s where Blankito was born.  This isn’t like some Eminem/Slim Shady thing though where I consider him an alter ego/different person; more mainly one of my split personalities.

I pitched one of the Heathcliff samples up a couple octaves and layered it on top of the original in the second verse, though it appears in the first.  This technique of pitching samples up I’ve heard started with Prince Paul, but it was the RZA who popularized it.  Kanye West used this technique numerous times earlier in his career.

For those not music compositionally inclined, an octave is like any given note’s sibling, it is the same note simply at its next chronological place on the scale.  In Western music, there are many tones but only 12 notes (including sharps and flats) which repeat endlessly, though we are limited to our own hearing (20-20K Hz).  This is because the Western scale is based in semi tones; I understand much Eastern music is based in quarter tones and those instruments have notes a guitar or piano can’t go without manipulating one of the 12 notes it does have.

To hear an octave go to any keyboard and hit a white key.  Count 8 times going consecutively and exclusively on white keys in either direction and you have that note’s octave.  If  you were to count all the keys you passed (including the black sharps and flats) you’d have 12 keys.  Each octave is double or half the the original frequency, e.g. middle C = 260 Hz, the next C up is 520 HZ, down 130Hz.  Octave relationships are perhaps the easiest to audibly recognize.

The drum/sample sequencing was done in Reason, but I cut the samples in Cubase.  Most of these samples I found on you tube and put a mic to the speaker to get.  When I sat down I just wanted to make a hot breakbeat type instrumental only with samples.  It was kind of like a test to see if I could make something I thought I might hear someone I liked trying to do the same thing.  I think it came out well.

A Moment Like This

A Moment Like This

This is another one where I had a goal in mind going in which usually I didn’t: mix samples with midi.  The main samples are from an acapella version of Kelly Clarkson’s song of the same name, when she singed it on American Idol in rehearsal before she won.  I also use a vocal sample from This Old Heart of Mine by the Isley Brothers.  The rest are synths I played in real time (as you can hear).

Killin MCs

Killin MCs

I didn’t think much of this one when I made it, I had actually planned to give it away to someone as charity.  As any halfway decent producer will tell you, when  you can make beats, rappers come out of the woodwork like roaches in the spring.  Not that I blame them, but from a producer’s perspective we want to get paid.  We understand you, the rapper/artist, believes you are the best.  That’s probably how you need to operate in that realm.  Unfortunately there’s a reason some guys bum for beats and others that producers will seek out to really do their work justice.  Just because a producer isn’t referred to as “the artist”, the producer is an artist every bit as much as the performer, at times more so.

It ended up getting recorded, which I did, as well as mixed, in our 4th floor walkup with what I had available.  I had WAVS of the other two I only have an MP3 of this, I wish I could find a non compressed version which has to be somewhere.  While it’s in Spanish, I recommend you learn or get your Spanish speaking friend to tell you it’s hot.  There’s also some backstory to all these people which I’ll omit, but I’ll say everyone was trying to outdo each other.  This is straight South BX Rican street shit, I’m not surprised at all by the direction they took it.  The beat is much like the atmosphere of where we were: dark, repetitive, sparse, dissonant.  These simple two bar loops can be a dream for a MC though, DJ Premier has a boatload of two bar riffs which are deceptively simple but allow an MC to really get in, not that I am comparing this or anything I’ve done to his work.

Burn It Up Remix

Burn It Up Remix

Last one for now…

This is a remix of the R. Kelly, Wisin & Yandel song.  I sampled La Bamba by Jose Feliciano and slowed down the tempo.


It’s A Rap!

Posted in It's A Rap!, The Lupa Show with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2012 by Lupa

Come and hear the fun when I play my selection of hip hop favorites…





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