#5thAvenueBlogs | Why rappers get a bad rep in the studio: Part 1 [Blog]
Toronto, ON – The studio is a place where musicians of all genres come to fully realize the creative process of making and sharing music with others. It can be a wonderfully creative space that can inspire an artist to deliver a performance so full of emotion that the listener can’t help but be drawn to the music. Magic can, and will, happen when you put a talented individual in front of a microphone in a comfortable, good-vibes environment. But that doesn’t always work.
I did a lot of traveling in my younger twenties, and a lot of Europeans would ask if there were a lot of jerks in America. My response was always, “probably the same proportion as there is in my country and your country”. And I think that theory holds true when comparing musicians from different genres in the studio environment. This isn’t intended to say that rappers are frowned upon; quite the opposite. Some of the nicest clients I’ve worked with have been rappers. In addition to that, a lot of small studios rely on the hip-hop community for business because traditional bands just aren’t demanding the same amount of studio time. Yet there are two peculiarities that seem to be distinctive to rappers, and both of them can leave a poor taste in the mouth of the engineer and studio owner.
The first one is MC’s coming into the studio with incomplete verses.
I’ve seen it many times before. We’ll whip through 3 songs; the session is going fantastically. The MC steps up to the plate for the next track and after the second hook, it goes silent.”Yo, I just gotta finish writing these last few lines.” So we wait. Sometimes we wait for 5 minutes, sometimes an hour or longer. Now let me say that I understand how difficult it can be to fully realize a creative idea, and sometimes things become clearer when heard in a recording environment. That’s not what I’m talking about here. The artist that comes into the studio unpracticed and unprepared is what I’m talking about.
For one reason or another (and I have my theories) of all the experiences I’ve had with artists coming in unprepared, 95% have been rappers.
There is no better way to kill the momentum of a session than the recording artist not being ready to record. It’s a car without gas, and it leaves everyone in the recording process in limbo. The groove and mojo of the environment can easily be lost. This is something to really consider, as the comfort level of the creative environment can heavily affect the quality of the performance. Fellow MC’s or producers can really start creating negative energies if the session isn’t going at the speed they thought it would, and once there is tension in the air, it’s tough to get the best out of the session.
I have a theory that this unpreparedness is due to an interesting belief in rap culture that being able to write quickly or freestyle in the studio is the ultimate in skill and credibility. Make no mistake, if an MC can come in and rock the mic with fresh lines, I’m all for it. There are a few out there who can do that, but reality is the best rappers spend time on their craft, hone their skills and perfect their rhymes. A mediocre-quality freestyle-verse will always come 2nd to a good-quality written-verse when it’s on a track.
Next blog I’ll go over the other reason why rappers get a bad rep in the studio, and surprisingly (or maybe not) it has nothing to do with the rapper at all.