Posts tagged hip-hop
Dissecting Kanye West's Good Life Beat

Good Life was the third single from Kanye’s third offering, 2007’s Graduation, and shows us a more synthpop-based approach to hip-hop than his previous albums, and the song went on to win Best Rap Song at the 2008 Grammys. Good Life features the vocals of T-Pain, and production by Kanye, DJ Toomp, Timbaland and Mike Dean. DJ Toomp is known for working with T.I., and he also collaborated with Kanye on the Graduation songs Can't Tell Me Nothing and Big Brother, being a big influence on the sound of the album. Good Life combines layers of synths with a prominent sample from Michael Jackson’s P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing). If you haven’t already then check out my other Kanye articles on Good Morning and Saint Pablo. There is actually a video from the studio of Kanye working on the song, still in its early stages, which you can watch below to get an idea of the layers involved in the beat.

Read More
Deconstructing Kanye West’s Good Morning Beat

Good Morning is the first song on Kanye West’s third album, 2007’s Graduation. The song follows The College Dropout and Late Registration’s academic theme, whilst presenting itself as more mature and focused than it’s predecessor by opening with an introspective song instead of a skit. The song was produced solely by West, although Graduation saw him allowing others to co-produce his work more than previously. Kanye uses two samples in Good Morning, one of Elton John and another from Jay-Z, which are accompanied by layers of keyboards provided by London-based producer Andy Chatterley. In this tutorial, I'll talk you through the synth patches and how Kanye chops up his samples.

Read More
BadBadNotGood Synth Sounds

BadBadNotGood are a Canadian instrumental band that combines jazz with electronica, and traditional instrumentation with psychedelic synth sounds. In 2016 they released IV, which BBC Radio 6 picked as their album of the year. The album finds the band using odd rhythms, jazz-influenced harmony, and long, dub-like delays, and they bring on several guest vocalists to accompany them. For live performances, they use a Roland Juno-60 for synth lines and a Korg SV-1 for the electric piano tones. It’s likely the SV-1 provided most of the Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Clavinet and Organ sounds on IV. They have also used a Dave Smith Prophet 08 in the past for synths, though this seems to have been replaced by the Juno. Additionally, the album credits for IV list a variety of synths used, including the Juno-60, a Yamaha CS-80, a Korg Poly Six, and a Crumar electric organ. The CS-80 (or 60) might have been used more on the album and just not been toured with for being a vintage instrument. Although there are fantastic emulations of the CS-80 and the Poly Six, I’ll stick to TAL U-NO-LX for the recreations, because it's easy to use, sounds great, and will keep the tutorial from being too plugin-heavy.

Read More
Childish Gambino - Sober Synths

In 2014, Childish Gambino released the EP Kauai. Named after the Hawaiian island, Kauai joins the mixtape STN MTN as part of a dual concept album intended to be a follow-up to 2013's because the internet. The EP sees Gambino, stage-name of Donald Glover, reunited with long-term collaborator Ludwig Göransson, a multi-instrumentalist as well as a producer. Göransson plays guitar as well as keyboards, and owns an enviable collection of music equipment. Kauai produced one single, Sober, that contains all my favourite instrumental elements; smooth Fender Rhodes, growling synth bass, chorused Roland Juno chords and a great drum beat to underpin it all.

Read More
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. I'll use the powerful Xfer Serum synth to create the main pad and bass synths of the song, and also shed light on some production tricks to use for this type of slick hip-hop.

Read More
Kanye West - Saint Pablo Synths

Kanye West's seventh album, The Life of Pablo, was released in 2016 and eschewed a traditional release, instead being exclusive to Jay-Z's Tidal streaming service for over a month upon release. The album has been revised several times since its release, with West reworking lyrics, adding guest vocals and tweaking the mix, going on to call the album a “living breathing changing creative expression.”. Four months after the album's initial release it was again updated with an additional song, Saint Pablo, appended to the album.

Read More