So I’ve been compiling this project on and off for about a year and a half now. This will be an instrumental album or a beat tape for all you cool kids out there.
Why a ‘beat tape’ and and not a conventional vocal album? The reason is not all that compelling. Part of it is because I want to improve as a composer, writer and producer. The other part of it is because I sometimes find myself writing music that I kind quite set lyrics to.
“In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
What are the two things that all successful women and men have in abundance? Ideas and perseverance by the bucket load.
When you’re considered the best in class and you hit a brick wall it takes a little more than doing what you’ve always done to cross the finish line. The idea of marginal gains is at a first a foreign one especially for the more recent generations – the Millennials and Generation Z.
In a world where everything is geared toward instant gratification Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed takes us back to the basics. The idea od marginal gains requires that one demonstrates superior levels of patience, as does the concept of Black Box Thinking.
When a tragic plane crash occurs it takes patiently scouring through heaps of debris and analysing mounts of black box data in order to piece together a full picture of events in chronological order.
The idea of painstakingly analysing plane crashes is not to point the finger of blame but rather to point in a direction that may bring about change. It’s all about making sure that we don’t repeat our errors. When there are hundreds of lives on the line the stakes are as high as could be and that requires thinking outside the box.
These very same ideas practised in industries such as aviation, formula one and competitive cycling could be introduced into different fields. Join Matthew Syed in Black Box Thinking as he takes you through various different tragedies and challenges in various industries to show you how you could learn from them.
There’s nothing worse than struggling with unwanted frequencies at the polar extremities of the audio spectrum. How you structure your mix at the start can save you a lot of headaches later on.
A quick tip to remember when mixing is that the average human (depending on) hears audio from 20Hz up to 20,000Hz. Most people however, can’t hear as low, nor can they hear as high. That’s because audible frequency range for most people tends to diminish with age. When mixing most instruments, apart from the bass or sub bass, simply apply a low cut on the EQ at around 60Hz.
Applying this low cut will create more space toward the low end of the mix for the bass to come through more audibly. Similarly, you should also apply a high cut on the EQ at around 16000Hz (as illustrated below)toward the high end. This will simply smooth things over toward the high end.
Not too long ago news broke of rapper Danny Brown joining Warp’s roster. Apart of Flying Lotus, Warp is not traditionally known for associating itself with Rap or Hip Hop acts. And even the works and collaborations that Flying Lotus has produced on his own and in collaboration with rappers such as Kendrick Lamar (Never Catch Me) could hardly be called Hip Hop.
The first single to come from Brown is the offbeat anthem “When It Rain”. It’s an adrenalin charged dystopian plethora of weird yet wonderful sounds. It is only after listening to this song many times over, that you get somewhat of an understanding of how Brown will fit in perfectly with the bunch of misfits on Warp’s roster.
Sonically speaking, this song is very aspiring, with it’s drone like bass-line and piercing lead synth. All of these elements are glued together by a fairly prominent swing on the entire arrangement which manages to throw the listener off a bit. Brown’s high pitched rap always feels like it’s going to get ahead of the music, but instead he manages to mould himself perfectly into the arrangement as if almost effortlessly. It’s this perfect blend of uncanny eccentricity and an unmistakable sense of confidence that has gained him notoriety amongst critics and listeners alike.
Daily interviews and paparazzi harassment; such is the image evoked when one mentions the glamour and glory of the music industry. And then you have the underground side of things: years of mediocrity, wondering what could have been and a the younger generation who haven’t a clue who you are or why their Dad keeps raving on about someone who debuted some 10 years before their birth.
The latter is perhaps the closest thing to accurate when referring to one Roots Manuva. But to claim that this sentiment paints the entire picture would be an absolute injustice. The man has indeed been rather busy with the recent release of his 9th studio album Bleeds. When you’ve been actively releasing music for close to 20 years you run a real risk of becoming rather bland. The only other two options are finding a middle ground and hanging on for dear life or continually pushing the boundaries.
The lead single and Four Tet produced Facety 2:11 provides that aforementioned push of the boundaries. There’s a reason Roots Manuva has released every one of his albums exclusively through Big Dadda. One of the bigger British labels specialising in Hip Hop music but if only with a slight twist; Big Dada tends to work with artists who have found and mastered their niche, artists such as King Geedorah otherwise known as MF Doom. Me Up is a song that exemplifies this niche carving. With an eclectic soundscape not to be expected of your modern day Rap phenomenon, Roots Manuva complements this with his signature reggae inspired hooks.
If there is one qualm that I’m to pick from this album, then it’s the somewhat slim pickings. At ten songs long this release leaves you wanting a little bit more. Roots Manuva’s preceding album 2011’s 4everevolution, was a mammoth seventeen songs long. And not to mention 2010’s Duppy Writer was a fairly decent fourteen songs in all. Perhaps it’s for the best that Bleeds was kept short and sweet.
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