Since When Did Biting Become “Cool?”
In the Long Run, Just Copying the Trends of the Day is Not Enough
|By Amir Said (Sa’id)|
No matter what gear you use; no matter style of beatmaking you hold the greatest allegiance to, be honest and clear about your aim. If your aim is to simply duplicate the current trend and/or sound of the day, in an effort to gain big money—which I completely understand, but do not recommend—then be advised: As long as you do the bare minimum; as long as you copy and bite rather than originate and create, it is not likely that your beatmaking skills will ever generate something truly unique. Furthermore, when the bottom drops out of the current style and sound trends of today, you will not possess the ability or the skills that are necessary to foster any new creative sound or trend.
There is a large number of beatmakers, both well-known and unknown, who are perfectly comfortable with the idea of simply “biting” the dominant trend of the times. To be clear, I believe that beatmakers should be able to deliver a sound that is in some ways perhaps sensitive—in tune with—the times. However, that being said, I also believe that those beatmakers who can develop and balance their style and own unique sound, while at the same time satisfy current music trends, are in a better position to receive both critical acclaim and reasonable monetary compensation.
Here, I must point out that I don’t knock any beatmaker for the beats that they make, or how they make them, for that matter. I understand and respect the relevance of current musical themes and sound trends. Moreover, I can appreciate the distinction that not everything deemed popular (commercial) is whack; just like not everything deemed “underground” is dope. So whether we’re talking “urban pop,” “underground alternative,” “club thug,” or “gangsta pop,” the fact remains: The current hip hop/rap music trends, (whack, unoriginal, or otherwise), appeal to a great number of beatmakers for various reasons. And for those beatmakers who merely strive to emulate the current trends, there is no bigger reason to do so than the acquisition of quick money and acclaim.
The lone prospect of simply gettin’ paid doesn’t necessarily appeal to me; but because I’m a realist—if not anything else—it doesn’t irritate me either. I mean, this is hip hop/rap music—something started in and still very much nourished in the streets. And in the streets, “gettin’ paid” is certainly no foreign mantra—it’s a celebrated anthem! So I respect that part of the music business for what it is. Moreover, like it or not, the generic, mass appeal, “just add water,” cookie-cutter approach to beatmaking is actually a cash cow for various beatmakers. Even still, I can’t overlook the fact that this very approach is also one of the main reasons that the overall quality and creativity in hip hop/rap production has taken a substantial hit over the last 10 years.
Some time, not too long ago, I can’t pin point exactly when, it became acceptable to bite and aggressively copy the sound of other beatmakers (and rappers). Around the same time, it also became O.K. for beatmakers to just do the bare minimum. Whether or not any of the well-known beatmakers and pioneers spoke up against this trend isn’t important to themes raised in this article; neither is a discussion about the influence of the major record labels and the various media outlets that “control” the commercial circulation of hip hop/rap music. What is important is the fact that beatmakers, for better or worse, are the ones who always have the power to actually dictate the current sound of the times. As Minnesota says, “We are the frequency providers. Without us, these motherf*ckers wouldn’t have no music.” Therefore, in the long run, it is those beatmakers who shun settling for the “trend of the day,” in favor of going with the style that best suits their real interests, who will ultimately be able to carve out their own beatmaking sound.Articles, Beatmaking, BeatTips, BeatTips Jewel Droppin', Editor's Choice, Editorials, Music Education, The BeatTips Community (TBC), Themes, Theories, and Concepts