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Your Keyboard Sounds Pretty Gay

I was over at Miss Info‘s blog, and she posted this new (or old) Cam’ron song called “Owe Me.” Now normally I wouldn’t give two fucks about some random Cam’ron song, because well, it’s Cam’ron…. and ya’know, that guy is pretty terrible these days. Talk about someone needing a career makeover. But anyway, the song is surprisingly listenable, and actually pretty decent.

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But one thing that really struck me about the track, other than the fact that it samples a show tune or some shit like that, is that everything except the sample– which really only leaves the drums– is from a drum kit preset in the Motif. I get it that this whole track was made on the Motif.

As with most Cam’ron music, you have no clue who produced it, so I can’t throw a shot at the producer. And I wouldn’t anyway, cause it is what it is.

It must have been at least seven or eight years ago when preset drums became acceptable in rap musc. When everyone cracked open these ready-made keyboards that had all these sounds in them and just said fuck it, we’ll run with what we got in here. I think Swizz really started the trend back in the late 90s when he was raping the Trinity/Triton drums for all that Ruff Ryder music. There was one snare in that board that I swear I heard on every single Swizz track for at least five years straight.

But the most blatant example of jacking presets was The Neptunes usage of the shittiest Triton drums in the world on The Clipse’s “Grindin.” Before “Grindin,” nobody in their right mind would touch that shitty fake 808 clap and that hollow kick straight from the Triton sound set. But credit The Neptunes’ genius for making those sounds en vogue, and actually pulling off a damn near classic single with them. Seriously, they murdered that shit.

Still, I can’t help but feel like stock drum sounds are what fuel today’s resurgence of 80s-inspired nostalgia acts. Should it be no surprise that new producers and artists are aping the 80s, when a bunch of 808s and electronic drum sounds are what come with these new pieces of gear and software?

I don’t know about you guys out there, years ago I used to spend days on end reading musical instrument catalogs. A Sam Ash catalog might as well have been XXL to me. I’d read that shit like a magazine.

But when the groovebox culture became the norm, these little boxes with drum sounds built in, you could get up and making music as fast as possible. Never mind the fact that these sounds sucked, it was all about getting something going ASAP.

And when you can pretty much make anything, put it online or on CD and promote it relentlessly… in this day and age, that’s what you get. A bunch of artists and producers making music with whatever sounds they have right in front of them. And so here we are, the 80s all over again.

Just my observation though, keep that in mind. But I watch new producers, guys who are just getting into making tracks, and all their shit sounds like Cool Kids-type beats, cause they just don’t know any better. They’re just being resourceful and trying to make something happen, which I can’t hate on.

It’s the same for established producers. When they need to make a record on the drop of a dime, they just grab the first sounds they can get their hands on, which are usually a bunch of presets. And the artists don’t know the difference. They aren’t technical people with knowledge of this sort of stuff. As long as the melody is cool and the drums are big and loud, it’s cool with them.

I think it’s kinda wack though. How about you?

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