Post Malone - White Iverson Synths
Post Malone released White Iverson in 2015, it was originally uploaded to Soundcloud and the song quickly became a huge hit, currently with over 500 million views on Youtube. Although Post Malone was branded a one-hit-wonder after the song's release, he has since followed the song’s success with the singles Congratulations and rockstar. The White Iverson beat is built around a pretty simple arrangement that features a lush, ambient synth pad over a synth bass kick and a trap-style hip-hop beat. There is also some clever vocal manipulation that uses Post's sampled vocals as a choir instrument in certain parts of the song. For this tutorial, I'll use the powerful Xfer Serum synth to create the main pad and bass synths of the song, and I'll also shed light on some of the music production tricks to use for this type of slick hip-hop.
The song's producer is FKi 1st, who worked on the song with Post Malone one night after being woken up by him while Post was sleeping.
"Absolutely, Post had already started making parts of it, he woke me up and we finished it. We had known each other for almost six months by the time we made “Iverson,” just working and finding what would be his sound. So we had been “Saucin” for a minute (laughs). We made sure to add that piece into the song too, “I’m saucin I’m saucin on you…”" -FKi 1st
FKi 1st is part of the duo FKi, a production and songwriting duo. In a HHS1987 Behind The Beats segment they mention using Apple Logic, Atmosphere, Sylenth1, Nexus 2. I'd argue that much of the song's tightness production-wise is it's simplicity, the parts gel together well because the arrangement is minimal and each sound sits in a specific place in the frequency spectrum.
"I wrote it two days before I recorded it. Me and 1st [of FKi] made the the beat and then I was writing the words to the beat at my house. I didn't even know if I was going to record. It was like 7AM and everybody was fixin to go to bed and I was fixin to record it by myself, so Raye Rich [of FKi] was teaching me how to work Logic for a second to get the main idea. Then he heard it and he's like, 'We need to record it.' It was morning and, I don't know, it was a perfect culmination of everything." -Post Malone
The main synth that plays the chords is an ambient pad sound that utilises chorus and reverb to achieve a lush, deep sound. Sine waveforms are suitable for creating mellow pads, and using a band-pass filter will help shape the sound to a very specific range of frequencies. Open Serum and switch Oscillator A's wavetable to Analog_BD_Sin, a sine wave with some analog-style colour. Activate the filter section and choose Band 12 for the filter type, then set cutoff and resonance to 804 Hz and 59%, respectively. Raise the FAT knob to maximum, which will raise the level of the signal running through the filter.
Now we want to add chorus and reverb to make our pad sound richer. Go to the FX tab at the top of the interface and turn on the inbuilt Chorus effect. From the default settings, lower rate to 0.06 Hz and set delay 2 to 4.8 ms. Process the sound with lots of big reverb, you can use any reverb plugin, just set the mix high and the decay time around 5 seconds. I used Ableton Live's stock reverb plugin with the following settings:
There is a piano sound in the background of White Iverson that has a distant quality to it, and it's great for layering hip-hop productions. The sound is easy to create, you just need a piano sampler run through a filter and reverb. Ableton users can check out the free e-instruments Grand Piano instrument, which sounds great and is used as an Ableton Instrument Rack.
For effects, run it through Ableton's Auto Filter set to the Bandpass filter type. Non Ableton-users should be able to find a bandpass filter in their own DAW's Filter or EQ effects. Set the filter's slope to 12dB, the cutoff frequency to 2.42 kHz and bump the resonance up to 38%, which will mad make the effect gentle but colourful.
The bass synth provides both the pitched bass notes and the kick drum by utilising a classic modern hip-hop synth patch that uses a pitch envelope to create the kick sound. Open Serum and set the Oscillator wavetable to Analog_BD_Sin, just like we did for the pad sound, then set the pitch in semitones down to -12. Move onto the envelopes and set both ENV1 and ENV2's sustain to 0, then the decay time of the envelopes to 1.47 s and 285 ms. Modulate the pitch with the envelope by simply clicking the arrow next to ENV2 and dragging it to the semi parameter of Oscillator A, then use the blue dial to set the modulation amount to 24. This will give you the basic pitch-envelope sine kick. Process the sound with saturation and generous compression to get it sounding as big as possible.
Putting It All Together
The song doesn't require too much mixing to get the parts to gel; the bandpass filters do most of the EQing to stop low frequencies from clashing. The bandpass filtering also helps prevent the heavy reverb from sounding muddy. The drums are simple and consist of just a syncopated snare sample with typical trap hi-hats. Running hi-hat samples through a chorus effect is a good way to make rapid, sampled hi-hats sound interesting; I just used Ableton Chorus.
Thanks for reading! Play around with the settings of White Iverson patches to get some new sounds, you can get really interesting results by playing around with different wavetables in the oscillator section. Click the download link below to download the Ableton Live Project and Serum patches for free!