When Freelance Producers Do Their Own Thing
I was assigned an album to review for XXL by my man BK Cyph aka Rob Markman aka Mr. Never Sold Crack, it's 2 Pistols debut, Death Before Dishonor. You guys probably know 2 Pistols as that guy who has the song with T-Pain, "She Got It." I had pretty high hopes for the album because The Justice League were producing most of it, and I fucks with their shit real hard. Them dudes get busy.
So I'd been listening to it for the past week or so and I noticed something about it that sort of bothered me. I'm listening to the beats and I honestly can't really say there is a wack beat on the album. Everything is hot. But the problem is they all sound pretty much like some shit I already heard before. And that's fine, because I believe as long as the tracks are quality, then it can't be bad. But I couldn't help but thinking that the reason the beats all sound like shit I heard before is because these guys probably never intentionally made them just for 2 Pistols. And 2 Pistols himself, who's an alright rapper, he sounds like a mixture of a bunch of different artists in one- he's got this Lil Wayne flow, with some Jeezy sprinkled in, a little TI here, some Jay-Z there.
So it's this situation where the freelance producers get caught up in trying to make certain types of tracks for certain types of artists. The thinking is, maybe this track here will work for Jeezy, maybe this one here will work for TI, and so and so forth. Now they start working with Pistols (or their own artist, I'm just using 2 Pistols as an example) and he kinda sounds like all these guys in one, and winds up rhyming on these beats, and now you've got sort of this mash-up of sounds and styles, and it just gets real hard to describe as anything but "generic." I'm not trying to dis, because a lot of times the name of the game really is to try and duplicate what someone else is doing, but shit to me right is a little stale as a result of this practice.
Part of the allure of Lil Wayne is that Wayne just does whatever the fuck he wants. Sonically, his shit doesn't necessarily sound like anything else that's out there right now. Even "Lollipop," which is a rather run-of-the-mill beat, has him singing on it and just doing all sorts of weird shit. So it makes this kinda weak track sound pretty good. But when dudes are just coming with that whole 16-8-16-8-16-8 format to songs, it's sorta sounding like some paint by numbers shit.
We all want to make hit records and make quality joints, but I think there's a switching of gears that needs to take place when freelance producers start doing their own thing. They've got to hit a creative chord within themselves where they're not making tracks to sell to the highest bidder anymore. They have to take it up a notch. Selling beats on a freelance tip is about giving other artists the sound that THEY want. When you are producing for yourself, you need to be making the sound YOU want. Or else you're just putting music out there that sounds like everything else in the marketplace. And who really wants that? We already have those artists and those types of sounds to listen to.