Listening to past greats is one of the best ways to learn the art of production. Some people may only listen to their favorite producers, which is a great way to learn how to deconstruct their production to learn how to implement some of their techniques into your production, but will not guide you to becoming an original producer.
By going back to the roots and listening to influential producers of the past it opens one up to sounds, and techniques which brought about a sonic revolution. Great hip-hop producers, such as No I.D., who produced much of Common’s music, cultivated a sound which is unique to him, and with that brought about a style that is uniquely “Chicago”. No I.D. Went on to be the mentor, of another Chicago based hip-hop producer, who, in turn, grew into the new face of a generation: Kanye West. Now West mentors, co-produces, and inspires youthful producers, and artists who push the boundaries of hip-hop as we know it today.
It’s only fitting that the modern day producer, at least, pay homage to the greats who created what we know today as hip-hop; I will explain more throughout the following post.
The Best Producers Hail Their Elders
Every great producer looks up to their elder producers and appreciates the work they have done. I can almost guarantee that every Hip Hop producer coming from the 90’s looked up to Run DMC, and by idolizing Run DMC, their producers Larry Smith and Rick Ruben were a focal point of inspiration as well. There are plenty of other producers that artists from the 90’s looked up to, such as Marley Marl, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaatta, all of whom sparked the creative production techniques of the 90’s.
DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and J Dilla are known to incorporate samples from 80’s hip hop records by cutting and scratching them. J Dilla has been known to sample multiple bars from 80’s rap records and integrate that style into his beats, creating a style unique to him; take for example Slum Village’s “Once Upon A Time”. Pete Rock and DJ Premier have also taken multiple vocal samples from records 80’s hip hop records to create chorus’s and hooks. These producers put these samples in their music to pay homage to their elders, and it speaks volumes about the amount of respect 90’s producers had for their elders.
Finding Where Production Techniques Came From Is Key To Your Development As A Producer
By listening to older records it will give you a sense of why production sounds the way it does today, broaden your production techniques, and give you inspiration. The greatest producers who refine or invent a new production techniques have studied the art from past producers. As you hear new sounds and techniques, you may even be inspired to create your own production technique.
If you want to learn why music has it’s sound today, then listen to old records. Listening to old records will let you hear production techniques and allow you to develop and grow as a producer. The greatest producers look up to their elder producers and have learned through their production techniques to advance and define their production. I recommend all of you to listen to 10 Hip Hop albums that are 30 plus years old. I guarantee you will learn a new production technique and could possibly be inspired to incorporate one of their production techniques into one of your beats.