Anatomy of a hip-hop song: Local producers weigh in on what it takes to make a great track
Davey Boy is at once abstract and vague but also so carefully explanatory that it's easy to let his answers go over your head, as he uses a simplistic tone in getting his point across. The most interesting thing about him is how quiet he is in his confidence. He spends a lot of time honing his style of music, production and artistry in a way that leaves little else for consumption.
Not that he is a very serious guy in terms of demeanor, but he comes across as someone who is immersed in the art that completes his well-rounded personality. And that art is production.
Graffiti Black says that he learns from Davey's style and substance, and when Davey Boy took a shot at the producer questions we had for him, it was clear why. While not the newest kid on the block, he is well on his way to carving out his niche as one of the more progressive minds in the production world.
Westword: Break down the physical components that a beat can't survive without.
Davey Boy: Physically, a beat can survive without any physical components. It's the sincerity that beat can't survive without. A good producer can distinguish when another is being sincere in his/her art versus someone prostituting and exploiting their craft through mass production. Needless to say, we all go through that period.
Do you prefer the hands on approach of beat making or the overall director's approach in a full production session?
I prefer to be hands on because no one can ultimately see your vision better than you can. In comparison to mainstream producers, I'm a novice, so I need that learning experience.
How do you keep from making the same song over again?
Strangely, I couldn't duplicate my own beats even if I tried. With all the different sounds and instruments, there's a constant drive to make something new.
Are there tons of beats just laying around that you don't use?
A ridiculous amount. There are many beats that start out with a great concept that need to be nurtured until it's matured. The beats I'm sitting on are premature in my opinion.
What are the key pieces to the best production team?
The ability to communicate, compromise and to respect each other's creative ideas.
What is the first thing that jumps out at you from a song?
What jumps out is the melody, first. If a listener never knew the name of your song, or who composed or wrote it, they'll always remember the melody. A good drum patter would be second.
When you go in to make a beat, what is the thing you build first?
Eighty percent of the time, I'll start with the drums. It gives a sense of boundaries to place instruments inside of and allows an inference to what the rest of the song will sound like.
What is it like working with an artist during a production session?
When I'm working with my friend, A.Fox, we were lucky enough to have the same musical
taste and background. The conflicts of ideas are seldom, but it won't always be as easy with everyone you work with. You have the convenience of dividing the work load, but you're also giving up a piece of creative authority. Humility is key because everyone believes their idea is the best one, and when others dispute and disagree that which you're passionate about, it's natural to take offense.
From Dilla to Premier, Dre, No ID, what do you think are the commonalities in producers who have worked on -- and will work on -- some of the most inspiring and iconic albums?
The commonality between all great producers is that they all have their own outlook about what music means to them. They have a vision and it projects through their artistry.
Speaking of iconic albums, can you name the top three most eloquently produced albums of any genre?
Kanye West's Late Registration, Michael Jackson's Thriller and Commissioned's Matters Of The Heart.
What is your process for technical responsibility?
Right now, I'm learning the mixing process of production. It's literally the bread and butter of your craft. For example, you want to pan out your drums and instruments and give them room to work together and be heard rather than fighting over the noise.