Tag Archives: making
Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)
It’s no secret—Blu’s got bars. Those who have been following his career since before he graced the XXL Freshmen cover in 2009 alongside cats like Curren$ y and Kid Cudi already know that, though. But Blu’s capabilities go above and beyond cypher skills. The guy knows how to make a dope project. His 2007 LP with Exile Below the Heavens is widely considered an underground classic, and for good reason. And there’s a long trail of other outstanding releases (his discography is too deep to highlight honestly, and he’s done some ill guest spots too with everyone from The Roots to Roc Marciano) leading us to his upcoming double album Good To Be Home, which is due out May 20th. Produced entirely by frequent collaborator Bombay and with features by Prodigy, Alchemist, Evidence, Fashawn, Casey Veggies, Imani of The Pharcyde, and more, this latest effort is Blu’s ode to California, the coast he calls home. And if his lowrider-ready first single “The West” is any indication of what we can expect from the double LP, we’re in for a soulful, sunny, and straight-up special listening experience.
For our latest In The Lab, Blu—who’s been in Paris working on something that’s still under wraps—found some downtime to shoot us an e-kite and take us behind the scenes of Good to Be Home, giving us a few insights into what his studio life was like while he was putting together the double album. And he dropped a couple bonus tidbits for the series, too. Vibe out with Blu below.
Blu: “I recorded all of the double album between two studios. One in Long Beach and the other off Beverly and Fairfax. It’s a mixture between being around all the hipsters and all the hippies. We sleep in the studio, that’s the Long Beach spot. And the Beverly spot we just go in and bang out a bunch of tunes at once. Our work ethic and recording pace is crazy—we always make the best out of our stay.”
“I wasn’t too involved in the beat-making of this double album. I think the main reason it became a double album was because I had so many gems to choose from. It went from being, ‘Let me cut a couple songs for the homie,’ to, ‘Hey, what do you think of dropping a double CD?’ I always say me working with Bombay was like a kid walking into a candy store, yo. I never left.”
“Man, for this album, the usual. Weed of course—we are very fortunate to live in California where marijuana is legal, so we definitely take advantage of that and stay as far away from cigarettes as possible. Beers—New Castles or Red Stripes, or the brown liqs for late night sessions. [And] Jack in the Crack [aka Jack in the Box for munchies].”
“This was one album where I needed no outside inspiration. My main fuel was wanting to put my style down on a sound that I feel complemented where my pen is right now. Really soulful block music, really really Cali. So the writing was most enjoyable—it was just me telling my story. But I did get a lot of fuel from a lot of the people who are on the record, who seem to have dropped records during the time we were recording ours. So we got the prime hot shit. Mitchy Slick, M.E.D., Alchemist and Evidence, Krondon, Durag Dynasty, Prodigy—[they] all have dropped great albums while we were recording this record. So it was a blessing to get them in the studio with us!! Man, Prodigy’s verse, classic bro bro. Classic Pee.”
“Sometimes it’s just me writing or playing beats with Bombay. Most times, I have a homegirl and her friend holding me down. And the homies always popped up, dropped verses or just hung out, and enjoyed the vibe. I felt like Dre when he was making The Chronic, just a lot broker. But very fortunate.”
“This album was [all about] burning down tablets. The writing was a lot of fun. All the songs were written to the beats for this album, because all the beats were done beforehand.
“[I record all my vocals in] one take, three takes, not any more than four ever I feel like. It was really, really natural, and I think that’s where you can feel the magic happening.”
“Hooks were just as popping as verses, we weren’t muzzled or restricted at all on this record. I really feel like it’s a celebration of how far we have come over in Los Angeles, where a lot of the beef, and police drama, and bullshit on the block has calmed down. Good To Be Home is like a ‘we made it’ celebration party.”
Working with Bombay
“Bass God Bombay was in the lab with me about half of the time, which is alot. But the chemistry was there. We are definitely into the same shit, born the same year, and pretty much had the same vision on how the album should come out. So it was like a snap of the fingers to get us to do an entire record. I’m excited for people to hear the whole double album. It’s full of good shit!!”
“My very first songs were recorded on a cheap hand-held recorder over Brandy and Whitney Houston instrumentals. My cousins wrote all the raps and I would learn them, and we would record to [their] sister’s cassette singles cause they always had the instrumental versions on them. We were like 12 and 13.”
Standout Past Project
“Every record I have ever put out has been a pleasure to create. The most difficult was No York. That has become my Black Album, the blacklisted album that was shelved by Warner Bros. But it was a pleasure creating all of our music.”
Dream Studio Collaboration
“Dilla, bro bro. Anything with Dilla, yo!!”
Previously: In The Lab with Sean C & LV | In The Lab with Harry Fraud | In The Lab with RATKING | In The Lab with The Alchemist and Evidence (Step Brothers) | In The Lab with Thelonious Martin | In The Lab with Troy Ave | In The Lab with Marco Polo | In The Lab with Black Milk | In The Lab with Oddisee | In The Lab with Pete Rock | In The Lab with Party Supplies | In The Lab with Mac Miller | In The Lab with Roc Marciano
Gangstarr’s Hard To Earn will always hold a special place in my heart. The LP dropped on March 8th, 1994 and it was DJ Premier and the late Keith “Guru” Elam at the top of their game. Released two years after the similarly lauded Daily Operation, this album was an example of a group giving fans exactly what they wanted before we even had a chance to want it. At the time, Guru was one of my favorite MCs and Hard To Earn just solidified his status as one of the best to ever do it.
In honor of the 20 year anniversary of the album, we spoke to DJ Premier about how it all came together. He explained the album’s sparse sound and walked us through the creation of what are now recognized as some of the more timeless cuts from their well respected and extensive catalog. From “Code of The Streets” to the “Aiiight Chill…” skit, “Mass Appeal” to ” Mostly Tha Voice”, it’s all here.
I have to give a special shout to UpNorthTrips for contributing some amazing archival images for the piece, as well as a custom mix highlighting some of the album’s samples by their in-house DJ The Vinylcologist. Listen below.
The mix goes beyond highlighting the beats and samples on Hard to Earn, as over half of the album’s instrumentals we’re deconstructed and re-workings by Vinyl himself.
Lil Herb kicks off a new vlog series called “Welcome To FazoLand: The Making Of A Classic”.
Previously: Lil Herb & Lil Bibby – At Night
Bun B drops gems during a recording session for Sean C and LV’s “Where’s Your Leader?”, the first single off thier new compilation album, Loud Dreams Vol. 1.
iTunes version via OFTS. Hit the jump. Download: Waka Flocka Flame & Shill Macc – Making Millions [iTunes]
Sean C & LV take us into the lab with a behind-the-scenes clip showing the making of their upcoming project, Loud Dreams Vol. 1, arriving March 2014. Loud Dreams Vol. 1 will feature original music from Pusha T, Bun B, Busta Rhymes, Fabolous, Jadakiss, Prodigy, Styles P, Devin The Dude, Asher Roth, A$ AP Ferg, Smoke DZA, Big K.R.I.T., DOM Kennedy, and more.
Check out the official tracklist to the Play Cloths-presented after the jump.
“Tomorrow May Never Come” ft. Styles P, A$ AP 12vy and CharlieRED
“Better Get My Money Up” ft. Tree, Bun B, 100s and J Ivy
“Look At Us” ft. Smoke Dza, Big K.R.I.T and Dom Kennedy
“Burn It Down” ft. Asher Roth, Devin the Dude, Smoke Dza and Hypnotic Brass
“Live For Today” ft. Fabolous, JadaKiss, Bun B, Rob Zoe and Anthony King
“Pandemonium” ft. Al Doe
“Light Fantastic” ft. J. Ivy and Keon Bryce
“Where’s Your Leader?” ft. Prodigy, Remy Banks, CharlieRED and Bun B
“Hand In My Pocket” ft. Pusha T and A$ AP Ferg
“BreakFruit” ft. Raekwon
“Busstop” ft. Busta Rhymes
For our latest “Making Of”, we connected with Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po of Organized Konfusion to talk about their amazing 1994 LP Stress: The Extinction Agenda. Widely regarded as the duo’s best LP, the album, which includes such iconic tracks as “Stress” and “Stray Bullet” turns 20 this year. Monch and Po walked us through the creation of the album, why it was such an emotional process for them, the LP’s amazing cover art and much more.
Click here to read The Making of Stress: The Extinction Agenda with Organized Konfusion
Pharrell’s longtime production partner Chad Hugo speaks on how he took up production as a kid as a distraction from the rigors of life. As we speak, Chad is holed up in a studio somewhere with P and Pusha creating God knows what. I can only imagine.
Previously: Pusha T Starts Studio Session with The Neptunes
Some behind the scenes footage from the making of P’s epic 24-hour video for “Happy”.
Busta, track producer Shamello and others comment on the former LONS frontman’s career defining 1997 single “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See”. They talk about the birth of Leaders of the New School and how that name had to be earned, his reluctance to go solo and the game changing video by Hype Williams.