I was in a recording session once and one of the gents in the room asked, 'what did you create this with?'
A lengthy conversation was sparked after expressions of disbelief were apparent across the room. I answered every question honestly (I said honestly because producers tend not to share their trade secrets, but that to me is just insecurity. But that's for another entry.)
I have come across that same reaction every time. The 'really?' reaction and the 'and you're telling me?' response. Why wouldn't I? I believe that in the creative field, like fingerprints, no two can and will be alike. Sure, I can take a crack at producing like Primo or Easy Mo Bee whose primary thump and boom-bap come from the SP-1200. But it wouldn't sound the same. It would sound like a sound-a-like. The soul or essence of that individual is missing.
It's like playing ball like Jordan in his prime. Yeah, you could go and purchase a pair of UNC ball shorts and wear 'em under your regular ball shorts and try and score 60 points a game. You can try, but chances are, it ain't gonna happen.
My comparision to these gentlemen is not to make myself seem more lofty or arrogant in any sense. I will never perform they way these men have in their respective fields. But what I will do is perform at peak in my own field, with my own soul, which in essence is what no else can do. They can try, but chances are it ain't gonna happen.
Ask and I'll tell you. Stupid? Nah. Cocky? Meh. Confident? Absolutely! We'll never make the same cake. I'll continue to ask as long as it helps to make me a better producer and individual amongst my peers who I hold in such high regard.
I was watching The Black List Volume Two, a documentary showcasing affluent African-American artists, athletes and activists and one of the artists profiled was The RZA. After slinging a couple of anecdotes, he said he was speaking in front of about 400 inner city kids discussing his passion for chess and how the game is and has been played by many cultures. When he opened the floor up for questions, a kid in the front row yelled, "RZA, why you ain't up in the hood? You ain't keeping it real!" RZA replied, "Do you think anyone WANTS to be in the hood? Do you think anyone WANTS to wake up with someone above you, beneath you and someone on your left and right? Do you feel as if anyone WANTS to go outside knowing that all the drugs, guns and violence is within a 4 block radius of their house?"
Growing up in the South Bronx, I never knew I lived in the hood until I left the haven my Mom created and went into White Plains and Westchester to visit my cousins who were much more well off than I was. I watched my Mom work two jobs in order for me to achieve. She always taught us that we could achieve anything, if we worked for it. I always thought if she had the chance to do things differently, would she? Does she feel a sense of accomplishment or unfulfillment?
Later in the interview, RZA said he now has five acres. He can let his son run 100 yards ahead of him with no worries. Shweeeeeeeet. He also went on to discuss how he read Silver Surfer comic books to escape the world around him.
What is success for you? What is freedom for you?
Personally, I am not looking to escape from anything this world has to offer. Rather, I am looking to clear my five acres in it. How about you?
Control stems from accountability and responsibility. Responsible when it's great news and accountable when the news is grim.
I watch dudes sidestep and disassociate when it seems like a verdict may be dark, but are quick to jump in front of the camera and claim prizes on a game show that they've never participated in. Is it individualism or just human nature? If it is the latter, people, we've got problems.
No one ever said a firing squad was comfortable. Obviously, a literal one would be fatal. But that does not take away from you being accountable. It's ok. We can and will make mistakes. Just don't repeat 'em. The more you take responsibility for your actions, the easier it will become when the rough patches come up. Deal with it. You'll stand tall even when they're chopping away at your shins.
DougSimpson is an urban music producer and recording artist with songs featured in various shows like MTV Cribs, Pimp my Ride, Fake I.D. Club, My
Super Sweet Sixteen, Made, the True Life series, 8th and Ocean and a host of other shows on MTV, MTV2, BET, Comedy Central and VH1.
Doug's company, Vintage 75 Music Publishing, focuses on providing instrumental music and full song solutions for television, film and multimedia applications.
Doug Simpson is a proud member of The Aqua League Beat Society.