#5thAvenueBlogs | Why rappers get a bad rep in the studio: Part 2 [Blog]
Toronto, ON – In the first part of this blog, I went over preparedness in the studio and how it pertains to the hip-hop community. In this, the second part of why rappers get a bad rep in the studio, I bring up a word that makes some engineers shake their heads and put forth thoughts in how to get the most out of your studio experience.
There is a certain ‘sex appeal’ that comes with the idea of a recording studio to people who have never experienced it before. Sometimes it’s because it is an unknown to people, other times because it is seen as the place to be and it’s cool. This leads up to the second reason why rappers get a bad rep – entourages.
To be clear, by entourage I mean a group of friends of the artist that are not involved in the recording process but are in the recording facility. And to be extra clear, the artist is fully within their right to bring other people into the studio if they are paying for studio time. It’s not common, but musicians from other genres bring in family and friends to sessions. Again, the recording studio is something that people want to experience, and artists want to share. As someone who works in the recording industry, I’m all for it as long as it is not a distraction.
Not all entourages are distracting, but since 90% of rappers arrive with an entourage, odds are there is going to be a few that can really be destructive to the creative process for a number of reasons. Now, I fully believe in having a relaxed and comfortable environment for recording. I believe it makes for a creative space that enables the artist to deliver the best performance. The wrong entourage comes with a party mentality and parties harder than is normally found in a studio. I’ve found myself having to get firm with a few people over having drinks on top of recording gear, or leaving too much drug paraphernalia in plain view of the office or outside. That frustrates the engineer and it distracts attention from the real focus at hand.
Another item is a friend who wants to have input on how the session is being run. There is always flexibility in this, but having someone try to pry the session from the engineer is a big faux pas. Only the artist and the producer (if there is one) should have the ability to tell the engineer how to do the job. Anything else is wasting time.
Most importantly, a loud group of people in the control room distracts the engineer from critical listening during the recording process. It’s our job to catch plosions, sibilance and timing and performance issues during the recording. To do that, we need to be able to listen very intently and without noise. Having loud noises in the background is very frustrating. There are a number of engineers I know that do not allow extra people in the control room during recording, and I’ve had to use that policy on a few occasions. I always try to keep everything communal, but it doesn’t always work and when it doesn’t there is friction.
So what can you do to get the most out of the recording process? Treat it like you have a purpose, and not a party. Prepare and practice. Put out the best performance you can because the microphone doesn’t lie; it doesn’t write bars and it doesn’t make you sound sober. All the preparation and effort you put in, you will get out, and having the respect for your craft will make the engineer want to do everything to get the best sound for you.