Hip-Hop’s Top Producers Teach You How To Make An Album
Executive Producer: DJ Drama
Top Credits: DJ Drama, Gangsta Grillz: The Album
DJ Drama, Quality Street Music
Lil Wayne’s Dedication Series
Most Important EP Attribute: Vision
DJ Drama: An executive producer can be a lot of things—in my experience it’s the backbone. It can be as simple as bringing ideas, bringing beats, concepts for hooks, putting things in directions, sequencing, deciding when you have 30, 40 songs how to bring them down to the 12 or 15 best songs. It’s putting a lot of the pieces together. In its simplest form, it’s not exactly in there banging on Logic or Reason, but saying, “Yo, that’s the one, that’s the beat right there, and we need to put so-and-so on the hook, and that song needs to go second after the Intro, and that’s gonna bring all the colors out of the album for the direction that we’re going in.”
[You need] a lot of creativity. In some form to be in tune with what’s going on both within the studio and outside the studio, with both the sound the artist is looking for as well as the sound that might be lacking in music at that time. There’s definitely some leadership qualities—it takes somebody to really put their foot down in the decision-making process and saying, this is the one, or this shouldn’t make the cut.
Another part of executive producing that also comes into play is after the music is done, and everything is sequenced and put in order, you have other issues. Sample clearance. What producers are getting paid for what. Clearances for all the artists. Making sure that so-and-so’s single is not hindering the release date or your single. The extra stuff that comes outside of the music comes into play with executive producing. You gotta get your hands dirty, cross your t’s and dot your i’s. In the studio, you have to be like, “Okay, we’re using this beat. This producer’s asking $7,500, or this beat costs $20,000. Is this worth it? No, this has got to come off.”
I just think I’ve become more experienced in it. I’ve tried to not overdo it. I’ve learned the basis of what an album is supposed to be and what it consists of, and what grabs the people’s attention. What records you put out first, what records you put out second, and how you get the energy and excitement from a project as a full body of work, or even just being able to put together a full body of work, and not necessarily just putting together an album full of singles, or an album not full of singles. If you don’t have someone who can come in and piece that together and make it a body of work, make it into an album with that vision of what you’re trying to accomplish, it can all just wind up being music without purpose, without vision.