Teamwork Makes The Dreamwork

I think one of the most overlooked aspects of having a successful career in the music business in any capacity, not just specifically being a producer, is having a strong team involved with what you’re doing. But seeing as how this is a blog for producers, I’ll address this point from that angle.

When I started making beats, years ago, there was a part of me that always wanted to be hands-on with everything. I wanted my artistic creation to be mine and only mine. If a track needed keys, I wanted to be the one that played them. Live drums, I didn’t even know how to play, but I’d be pretty adamant about not letting someone touch the track.

How selfish and immature I was.

The reality is that depending on what we want our end result to be, we need to stop getting caught up so much in the craft and start spending more time thinking about the end product. What’s going to take you as a producer from point A to point B fastest, most efficiently, and with the best results? Point A could just be the melody, and point B could be the finished product (i.e. the mixed and mastered song). Neither of which you need to be the sole creator of. And that’s where the team comes in.

Kevin Garnett was the man on the Timberwolves, but it took getting with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and a great supporting cast to drive him this far into the playoffs. He doesn’t just get the ball, run down the court 1 on 5 and score. They pass it around, run a play, get the best shot for the team. That’s how you need to think of your career as a musician.

You might be great at chopping samples but not so good at playing keys. You may have a great ear for melody but lack the technical skill to sit behind an MPC or computer and put the melody to a beat. You may be great at mixing, but your own tracks could sorta suck. Point is that you need to identify your strengths and weaknesses and then put the right people around you to balance things out. Collectively, the team can achieve the goal of putting out the best product possible.

I notice that sometimes producers are like how I was years ago, sort of finicky about other people touching their tracks, perhaps somewhat defensive that what they might do to it could make it better, thus subversively indicating a weakness in the producer’s original music. That’s not the case at all. It’s just that sometimes a fresh perspective on things can help freshen up an idea. So stop being a bitch, and start reaching out to other producers, seeing how you can make their shit better, and vice versa. It’s easier than sitting around for 10 hours trying to hammer out the simplest bass line all because you can’t play for shit.

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  • dj ashy fingerz

    great advice

  • Rizob

    i agree, this is why DJ Paul and Juicy J are the best producing team in hip hop….

    …honorable mention to J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, and Dr.Dre(who probaly never made a beat on his own in his life…)

  • wax

    this blog is the only reason to come here anymore. Bol posts more interesting shit on his own site, they canned BXS… keep it up gooch.. and please post a link to your own site again.


  • thatdudedan

    why was scratch magazine discontinued? man i loved that mag..

  • bongolock

    good yer insight

  • dj/producer

    yo, you’re on the money with this…a few years ago I didn’t know shit about playin keys, but after linking up with my dude who’s classically trained I’m able to play keys by myself now and gotten 10x better than before

  • khal

    you know whats funny, though? like it’s ok for someone to be like “yo juicy j and dj paul are so great together”… but when timbaland brings danja to the limelight, its all of the sudden “oh, timbaland aint makin his own tracks”. or if someone like dre, or whomever, is outed as having a squad underneath him, its somehow a problem.

    • Rizob

      The reason its a problem then is because for Dr. Dre, Timbaland, and producers like that, there is never any credit given to the “help”. All the credit goes to them. But when you come in as a team to begin with like the Neptunes, DJ Paul & Juicy J, and all them, you know its a team effort from jump street. If Dre and Tim getting help on their beats, then they shouldn’t be respected as highly as they are.