Type Beats : From the bottom of YouTube to the top of Billboard

I got broads in Atlanta / twistin’ the lean and the Fanta”… Desiigner’s first hit song Panda 🐼 was impossible to avoid in 2016. First brought by Kanye West’s album The Life of Pablo, it became the #1 song in the USA, making the newest G.O.O.D music signee the youngest artist to reign the charts since Lorde in 2013, the first male rapper to reach number one with his first single since Wiz Khalifa in 2011, and also the first to chart a rap song this high without singing or the help a feature to sing the hook since… Kanye West’s Stronger, 9 years ago 😲

Desiigner — Panda (G.O.O.D Music / Def Jam)

There’s two fairy tales in this story : how 18 years old Brooklyn rapper Desiigner ended up being picked by Kanye West, and how the song came together from a Type Beat he purchased on YouTube for $200 in 2014. Let’s focus on the latter. Panda was produced by Menace, 22 years old Manchester-native. The beat was uploaded to his YouTube channel and sold through his website, and this PayPal transaction was enough to make the song chart #1 without having to get the artists to even meet each other IRL.

The Type of this Beat was Meek Mill. It sound great without crossing any line, following the basic Trap sound pattern: bass-heavy 808, crisps snares, rolling hi-hats, gritty sounds, simple loop melodies. This type of sound has been popular and loved for several years, however, no Trap song ever reached #1 before Panda. Menace was able to chart higher than any producer he might have been influenced by: Lex Luger, Cardiak or Metro Boomin’ have massive popular hits, but never had a #1 song.

What‘s a “Type Beat” ? 😧

A Type Beat is an instrumental song, purposely matching patterns of already existing songs, using the usual types of BPM, drum sounds and song structure, to be easy to suit a rapper. Type Beats are usually uploaded on YouTube for display and promotion, and on the beatmakers’ websites for sale, or on platforms made for this (Soundclick, Beatstars, ExpertBeats, …). The embedded name mentions the Type of artist the beat was inspired by, to make it easy to understand, easy to rap to, easy to find, and to be sure to reach good number of clicks by mentioning a big name.

Example: I love Rae Sremmurd’s style, so I’ll look for Rae Sremmurd Type Beat on YouTube, to find the best imitations of Mike Will’s style: gritty lead synth, filters on the master, slighty distorted 808 bass, classic Trap drums and rythmic-pattern, simple arpeggio synth. Ta-dam! 🎉

A$AP Rocky found the beat for the song Fine Wine off his latest album… by typing “A$AP Rocky Type Beat” on YouTube. Convenient 👀

The best new business model for producers?

Democratisation of both the Trap sound and the music creation software FL Studio made it very easy to make your own Type Beat and upload it on the Internet. The connexion between the beatmaker, the listener and and the consumer has never been this straightforward.

Selling 30$ for an .mp3 of the beat, 50$ for a .wav and 300$ to 1500$ for a lease, for a production time not exceeding over 2 hours… sounds like a pretty solid deal. Selling beats on the Internet can be money straight to your pocket, as opposed to a slow and outdated industry of music all about splitting, waiting months to get a paycheck, or sending beats to artists without any confidence they’ll ever use it. With a good Type Beat business, no more beats on hold : the catalog is in display, beatmakers no longer depend on rappers or labels, nor appear to be in need of a publishing deal — often synonymous of death sentence or deep pain in the ass.

Even though some beats are reaching over 5 million plays and some names are becoming references (mJnichols, Taz Taylor, CashMoneyAP, Danny E.B. Tracks), the purpose of Type Beatmaking isn’t to turn into a superstar household name. It is more a business than the foundations of a true artistic statement. Taz Taylor claims he makes an average 18K$ a month with his beats — definitely more than most producers placing beats on some popular records.

Taz Taylor’s income for 2016.

With Jahlil Beats launching his own Type Beat channel while being an established producer himself (Bobby Shmurda’s Hot Nigga, Meek Mill’s Imma Boss), we might soon experience experienced producers ready to play by the new rules and upload beats whenever they feel. The feast for beats lover is only starting.

The irony: Jahlil Beats Type Beat actually have more plays than Jahlil Beat’s Type Beats 😩

An impressive example of the success of this method is the rise to fame of the French Rap band PNL. Two brothers coming out of nowhere and becoming the sensation of 2015 in France. 90% of the songs they released were recorded over Type Beats. They purchased a The Weeknd x Bryson Tiller Type Beat from a producer named MKSB for 39.95$, turning it into 35 millions of play in less than a year, and pushing PNL to sell over 50 000 copies of their album Le Monde Chico.

Where lies the line between being inspired by and simply biting? The subtlety, so thin, almost meets no issues either of the listener, nor for justice.

Can you make a business of duplicating for ever?

Something stood up to me while the Blurred Lines trial was acted : if Marvin Gaye’s estate could sue Pharrell Williams & Robin Thicke for jacking a groove and ask for 7 millions, how much millions can Lex Luger ask for basically 80% of beats produced since 2011? What would happen if Metro Boomin sued every Future x Young Thug Type Beat? 😱 The Trap pattern is overplayed, overused, with beatmakers over-saturating the same drum kits, song structures, and sound palette, making hard to notice who is who.

There’s no doubt in my mind that with that much money involved, one day one beat will create jurisprudence and start ask serious questions about this frenzy of duplicates. How long can the trendsetters and the followers remain equal on the same stair of the podium?

Of course, the outcome of this question only matters for who’s involved in music. Listeners don’t care if Iggy Azalea’s Fancy ripped DJ Mustard’s sound, and they won’t care next time a hot new artist totally emulates another artist’s style and reach #1. Desiigner, often criticised for sounding too much like Future, follows a surprising line of Type Rappers, unashamed of jumping on a trend and stealing every single code with style and success.

Menace & Desiigner — the Type Producer & the Type Rapper — are the ignition of the triumph of Type music.

Travis Scott entered a Swae Lee sound-a-like contest. And won.

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