2 posts categorized "Paul "Nasa" Loverro"

February 08, 2011

A Change in Sampling Philosophy

Why It's Sometimes Necessary to Expand What You Consider to Be Useful Sample Source Material


Recently I've gone through a change in my sampling philosophy. I was always hard headed about sampling other beat makers drums or other elements. Even if it was just grabbing a kick or a snare and making my own pattern, I was head strong about finding my own sounds. I would never use break-beat records either (still don't, more on that later). I felt like to get your own sound, you had to make your own sounds. I even felt squeamish about using an 808 that someone handed off to me.

But over time you start to realize that this is a form of paranoia. Many beats NEED an 808, and unless you want to go back and buy your own TR-808, you'd better be ready to sample one from wherever you can. 808s are often an essential building block of a lot of hip hop beats. That was something I learned pretty quickly, and became the first crack in my wall of hard headedness.

Over the years I've grabbed a kick or snare here or there, but besides my mighty 808, I stayed true to my purity of grabbing my own sounds. While this is a great foundation for a career in beatmaking, eventually you have to evolve a bit. I've also moved away from playing out drum patterns as the basis for my beat creation over the last 3 years. This has opened my mind to a lot of possibilities of how I can construct beats and has contributed to what I'm about to say.

Nowadays, hip hop records are open season just like any other piece of vinyl in my collection. In fact, the way I make beats today is more about sampling drum patterns from records, chopping them up and playing them in new ways. Sometimes I'll add another drum pattern on top of that that fits, or just a roll (fill) or a piece of another looped sample phrase. From there I have my foundation (which used to start with me literally pounding out a kick and snare by hand almost every time). It took me years to get to this point where I could make this change, but now that I have I'm throwing old rap records into the mix of my ideal sample source material as well.

Rap music has been around for 30 plus years now. It deserves the same respect that we as beatmakers give rock and soul records. There's just too much that can be gained from these records. Some brilliant original hi-hat patterns; cleaned up breaks that aren't available; context sampling advantages. What I mean by "context sampling" is just like how you think of James Brown when you hear a JB Sample, having someone think about a legend in rap isn't a bad thing either, if they can figure out what you are working with.

While I have been a fan of making whole beats off the same rock or soul record as well lately, there's nothing iller to me than taking a chop of a rap record from 1988, mixing with a roll from a random album from 1978 and then adding synth sounds from some progressive rock from 1971. That collage of sounds is what this is all about right?

I still have an issue, personally, with break-beat records though. Mostly because they are usually copies of copies of breaks that were sampled from originals, so the sound quality is lacking. More importantly, I'm highly uncomfortable with ANYONE choosing what I sample and those collections are basically serving as a curator of my sound. I've walked out of record stores that have records labeled by break for you or that note who sampled it previously. That shit is whack to me.

Bottom line: Sometimes it’s necessary to adjust your sampling philosophy and reconsider your ideas about what makes for useful sample source material. Furthermore, if you really want to show the beatmaking pioneers some respect, show that respect for them by including them into what fuels you today just like you would any other record in any other genre. New year, new approach.

[Editor’s note: Although break-beat records often do contain copies of originals, some also contain re-issues. In both cases, the sound quality may vary, but typically not by that much. Therefore, break-beat records sometimes do have usable sounds with decent sound quality. In fact, I'd personally go with a sampled break-beat drum sound over a software synth drum sound, any day.]

The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

January 05, 2011

So You Think You Need A Manager?

In the Market for a Manager, You Might Want to Consider DIY


In the late 1990s, I was in a group called The Presence (in addition to my solo work, I'm still a member today). Even though we were just starting out, we had a few joints that people were feeling in NYC. So we really wanted a manager. In our minds, it was time to take that "next step.” So I spoke with an experienced Manager who managed a lot of the acts that I wanted to emulate, in terms of their success and creativity. He told me that we didn't need a manager. In fact, he said that a manager wouldn't do anything for us.

His response pissed me off, because from my perspective, we weren't going anywhere and we needed help. We were really young in the business, and I thought that a manager could help us get to where we were trying to go. So I shunned his advice, and I met with several "managers,” explaining our situation to each. All the people that I met with were "first time managers;” but I didn’t know that at the time. I thought all these meetings in bars were actually getting me some where. In retrospect, it should have been obvious to me that I was spinning my wheels. After all, why would an experienced manager meet with artists that clearly couldn’t do anything for themselves?

Well, it took me a long time to realize that the advice of that very first manager that I spoke with was right! And if anyone would have said anything different to us at that time, it would have been a shark move. Although this was back in the late 90s, and the music scene has changed a lot, this issue surrounding a manager is one thing that hasn't changed.

This all comes back to my mind because now that I've grown in the business (that is to say, having produced and mixed countless many tracks, performed at numerous shows, and started a record label), the very last thing I EVER want to do is talk to a manager. It's ironic that when I was about 21, I carried the exact opposite approach. I've dealt with managers for well-known artists of past note as well as up-and-comers, and in my experience, they are either “day-planners” or they just plain get in the damn way.

You have to understand one basic fact about managers if you are just starting out as an artist: They get paid when you get paid. But that's not as good as it sounds. What that actually means is that if I contact you for a beat, for instance, and you direct me to your manager, your price will likely not be negotiable. Although this might be construed as good thing, it usually isn't.

Consider this scenario. Let's say I contact you for a beat and you want $1,000 dollars for it. We may be able to work it out one on one; trade some favors; change our agreement around until we get to a more reasonable price range; whatever. We might agree on a price that’s somewhere between $400 and $600, where still both walk away happy. But If there’s a manager negotiating, they’re likely gonna get about $200 of that $1,000, which comes up to 20% (15-20% is pretty standard for a manager). Guess what that often means? The manager most likely ain't going lower. So instead of getting that $400-$600, you get nothing. Because the manager doesn't want his or her 20 percent to represent much less then $200 dollars at a minimum.

I should point out, however, that if you have a manager that is actively hunting down work for you, then that's all acceptable. He might have contacts in film, or with major labels, or with more people in your local scene than you do. This would then be a win-win situation. But ask yourself, if you don’t already have those contacts, why would the manager be giving those to you when they can work with the next man that already does?

Of course, I'm not trying to paint all managers as useless or sinister. Some "first time managers" are genuinely trying to help. However, most of the time, they just have no idea what their doing; and this can damage your career and/or make your goals even more difficult to achieve. My point is, good managers are typically looking for someone that already has a name (brand presence, or more easily marketable product) and has earned money already. So as an artist, one good reason that you should be looking for a manager is if you are in such demand that you can't keep up with all the requests or manage your money correctly. But you have to be honest with yourself, are you really in that position yet? Fact is, a lot of new artists have managers in order to feed their own ego. So look deep in that mirror before you hire someone, and keep things real; handle your biz, straight up.

Finally, I want to end with something that happened recently. I heard beats from someone that I found very good. I run a podcast, a record label, I know almost every emcee in the NYC underground, I offer engineering services, I have this platform here at BeatTips as a Blogger, and I'm generally a pretty good guy about spreading the word around about people I find interesting. Why do I point all this out? Because those are all the things that this artist (beatmaker/producer) NEVER found out about me because of the reaction I got from his manager. I was given a semi-third degree about who I was by this manager—aka third party—and then ignored.

To this “manager,” let me say this: we are not on such different levels, homie. In fact, I'm probably far more well known in underground circles. But because of your “management,” I’m now less inclined to share with you the advantages and goodwill that I’ve earned. Maybe what your “manager” did was un-intentional; maybe it was an oversight; maybe I'm too sensitive; maybe there was a problem giving me a proper decent (respectful) response. Regardless of what it is, in this specific case, your “manager” actually hurt your interests rather than helped them.

Editor's Note: For more information on DIY, check out the BeatTips DIY Resource Center
Also, The BeatTips Manual (in the Business Part) includes a comprehensive discussion of so-called producer managers and the like, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

Dedicated to exploring the art of beatmaking in all of its glory.

Your email address:

  • Donate Sidebar

  • BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers

  • Build Your Skills

  • Top 5 Myths About Sampling and Copyright Law

    "Sampling is piracy."
    WRONG! Piracy describes the wholesale, verbatim copying and distribution of copyrighted works. That is not sampling; that's something entirely different.
    Read more

    "You can legally sample and use any recording up to 1, 2, 3, or 4 seconds."
    WRONG! Under existing copyright law, there is no clear, predetermined length (amount in seconds) that is “legally” permissible to sample.
    Read more

    "If you use samples on a free mixtape, it’s perfectly O.K."
    WRONG! A free mixtape does NOT permit you to use samples from copyrighted recordings without the permission of the copyright holders.
    Read more

    "Sampling is easy; there’s nothing to it. Anyone can do it well."
    WRONG! Sampling is an art form that requires technical skill, imagination, and artistic understanding.
    Read more

    "Sampling involves the use of pre-recorded songs only."
    WRONG! While the art of sampling is most commonly understood to include the use of pre-recorded songs (traditionally from vinyl records), source material for sampling includes any recorded sound or sound that can be recorded.
    Read more

  • BeatTips
    Essential Listening

    BeatTips.com is a website dedicated to music education, research, and scholarship. All the music (or music videos) provided on this site is (are) for the purposes of teaching, scholarship, research, and criticism only! NOTE: Under U.S. Code, Section 107 “Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use” of the Copyright Act of1976: “Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching… scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright." (U.S. Code)