What Producing Is In 2008

Ballerstatus has a great interview up with one of my favorite producers, The Alchemist. In it, he describes what motivated him early in his career and talks about how things have changed. He says,

“I was just trying to get respect from people I respected like Premier, just to get the stamp in that world. I didn’t give a f— about pop or masses, or this whole image of how producers are… That’s why my career is what it is. It was definitely a grind, but it was more organic than I feel it is with producers nowadays. Nowadays, I feel producers got managers, lawyers and all these pressures, but back then for me, it was nobody. It was me in a f—ing room. I don’t think I had a manager or a lawyer. I would make beats for a CD and cassette, I’d find out who was in the studio at the time because I was in with a couple of people and I’d call, make arrangements and see who wanted to play my sh–.”

I gotta appreciate the simplicity of the way he approached it back in the 90s. It was strictly about making something dope. It was about having something of quality, something that people who were the so-called pioneers of the production game would respect, something a dope artist would want to rhyme to, before it was about having something a whole team of people could be eating off of, regardless of whether the music sucked or not.

Al continues, and inadvertently describes his own progression as a producer while making a point that I’ve been trying to hammer home to folks for like two years now. He says,

“As the years progress, the line is thinning between producer and an artist, and I really don’t think there’s much of one anymore. Sh–, Snoop’s making beats? Great! That’s gotta be crazy. I know Kanye West is very talented. I think the line is thinner, but it’s great because it gives artists the opportunity to expand and create, and take sh– a little further and not doing something everyone is accustomed to.”

That’s what it is in 2008. It’s producer as artist, or artist as producer. It’s songwriter as producer. Songwriter as artist. Artist as songwriter and producer. It’s no wonder why rappers who just seemingly get beat CDs and rap over pre-made beats are being marginalized both in terms of creative content and record sales. The reality is, it just doesn’t take much talent to do that, and it’s displayed by the final product. Look who’s running the game right now on both mainstream and more niche levels.

Mainstream: Timbaland, Akon, T-Pain, Wyclef, Kanye West
Underground: Black Milk, Alchemist, Terrace Martin

I mean, there’s plenty more to name on both levels, and that’s not even going into other niches of hip-hop, but do you see a common thread? All these dudes- whether they are straight up hip-hop heads or more R&B-influenced (I argue that T-Pain and Akon are actually rappers)- are artists, songwriters, and producers. Meanwhile, the one hit wonder ringtone rappers are the dudes who can’t sit there and concoct hit after hit for themselves. So at the end of the day, whether you like these rapper/producer/songwriter cats or not, it does make some sense that the more you can do and the more you have to offer people (particularly fans), the more upside you have of making a career for yourself on any level in 2008.

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  • BK Cyph

    man im just waiting for lil wayne to make beats! LOL

    • Mr.Wang

      His beats are gonna be garbage.

      • Cassius

        Yuah dig!

  • mac morrison









  • CiTyStArS

    see where u comin from look at prince been around since the 70s and still gettin paid i meand its definetely great for u to have that talent so ur sound can stray from everybody elses and i love alchemist nigga is dope

  • wood grain grippa

    thats where people like Alchemist lose me. Dude i get wat you saying. u wanna make shits thats dope. but dude whilst others getting paid you choose to stay with nothing and say im being real.

    Even Beethoven knew what time it is. Its time to get paid. like this dude his been in the biz for some time. I bet you dont want me to start listing people that have made Great music and still got paid.

    so you telling me not getting paid and working for free is the way to make great music. i say fuck you.

    thats why masses of rappers and producers gonna stay down. its this hood thinking that fool you all.

    get paid and pay your bills

    • lukee lefty

      Al is gettin paid, besides most people that know about dude knows he went to high school in like Beverly HIlls with Angelina Jolie and shit, so dude comes from money……

      Al tracks arent free trust dude is gettin thousands of dollars per beat, i think the point he was tryin to make is that the money shouldnt drive you, tryin to make the dopest music possible should be ur motivation and in making that dope music you’ll be paid for you services

      • http://www.cocaineblunts.com/ noz

        “dude comes from money”

        “i think the point he was tryin to make is that the money shouldnt drive you”

        Easy to make that point when you already have money, no?

  • ty from linden blvd

    i hop yellow nigga gets his yellow ass beat in the streets,THERE IS NO FUCKING REASON I SHOULD HAVE TO READ SCRATCH MAG ONLINE IN THE BLOGGER SECTION OF XXL.

    glad that clown got fired

  • AZ

    Gooch…welcome BACK to the PMPWORLDWIDE lol

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  • Smoove

    Alchemist is a monster, one of my favorite producers ever.

    That Wyclef album is hot, and Black Milk is the future…he reminds me of 9th Wonder, but more versatile.

    My rhymebooks are full…can somebody throw me that FruityLoops?