“More Like Brothers”: Kornbread Explains The Musical Bond of Beanz N Kornbread
Although music producers are often thought of as singular entities, Houston-based duo Beanz N Kornbread have formed a successful production partnership by building off of a unique bond that goes much deeper than music. “Me and Beanz are more like brothers,” Kornbread explains to me. “I was the best man at his wedding, we’re both fairly grounded guys, he comes around my daughter all the time, and my mom calls him son.”
Though their connection is deeper than mere production credits, a mutual love of music is what initially brought them together. “We’re actually musicians by trade,” says Kornbread. “I grew up playing keys, organ, piano, and I was in the middle school band. Beanz plays everything. His first instrument was drums — so in high school he did percussion — but he also plays keys, bass guitar, guitar, and I think a little bit of trumpet.”
After honing their skills in their younger years, the two musicians worked their way up to playing in their church choirs and eventually met eachother through mutual friends in 2004. “We actually played at the same church for a little while,” says Kornbread.
Their influences go well beyond the music they played in church, but Kornbread is quick to acknowledge the important role gospel music played in their musical evolution. “Gospel is a huge influence on us,” he says. “Personally, I wouldn’t be a music producer if it wasn’t for church. If it wasn’t for church, I wouldn’t be a keyboard player.”
“Me and Beanz are more like brothers.”
In addition to helping them build their skills as musicians, keyboards were also an instrumental part of their early beatmaking development. “We started out making beats on keyboards,” Kornbread explains. “I had a Korg KARMA, which is similar to a Triton. Beanz has a Korg N364, then he switched over to a Motif. So we were making beats like that, sampling into the keyboard.”
After a few short years of working together, a major break came for the duo in 2007 when they connected with emerging rapper Rob G and eventually linked up with Houston legend Paul Wall’s manager T-Farris. “Rob G did a song with Lil’ Keke that we produced. Once we did that song, then T Ferris heard our style and he was like, ‘I love you guys’ records, let’s do some more more work,’” says Kornbread.
With their foot in the door, an opportunity to work on Wall’s Fast Life album presented itself. Of the three songs they contributed to the album, the making of “Daddy Wasn’t Home” stands out. “That was when we were still working out of Beanz’ crib — we were at Beanz’ house with T Ferris and Paul,” says Kornbread. “We put the record together with Paul and T Ferris right there, chilling on the couch.”
Utilizing a perfect Master P vocal sample for the hook, Beanz N Kornbread constructed the rest of the track with their own instrumentation. “I played the keys and Beanz did the bass,” says Kornbread. Building a soulful and somber composition, the two producers helped Wall record a heartfelt ode to his mother and the most emotionally vulnerable song of his vast catalog.
When Farris first approached them to produce the song, their goal was to build off of the vintage Houston sound that inspired them during their early years. “For that record, we wanted it to feel like Rap-A-Lot. We’re big fans of Mike Dean and all those producers, real Texas legends. So we kind of wanted that Rap-A-Lot, ‘Smile’ by 2Pac and Scarface feel to it,” says Kornbread. “We feel like that song is a cousin of ‘Smile’.”
“We put the record together with Paul and T Ferris right there, chilling on the couch.”
Though “Daddy Wasn’t Home” used a prominent Master P vocal sample in the hook, Beanz N Kornbread favor using their own instrumentation to build tracks. “In the beginning we sampled a little bit, but most of the time we don’t sample,” says Kornbread. “If we do sample we might do an interpolation which is basically replaying something. And honestly that’s usually by request.”
Samples or no samples, the two musicians use their keen ears to emulate the sonic qualities of sample-based beats with with pitch-perfect accuracy. “People think we’re sampling when we’re really not because we know how to give records a certain feel,” says Kornbread. “Or we might play a live loop ourselves and them sample the loop that we played and then make another beat on top of the loop.”
As their sound continues to evolve, Kornbread explains that they’ve kept a bare bones setup since leaving their humble home studio beginnings. “People are amazed with the sounds we come up with,” he says. “Our setup is super simple. It’s basically Logic for production, Pro Tools for mixing, mastering, and editing, and our live instruments.”
With their workflow perfected and an arsenal of instruments at their disposal, the Houston producers feel comfortable working with artists from any genre. “We can pretty much do anything. Between me and him, we’re a two man band,” says Kornbread. “We’re kind of self-contained. We play our instruments, we write most of our own hooks, and write our own songs. We dabble in other genres of music as well.”
“People are amazed with the sounds we come up with. Our setup is super simple.”
Having your closest friend as a business and creative partner can potentially lead to a toxic relationship, but Beanz N Kornbread made a simple agreement early on that kept that working relationship harmonious and stress free. “From day one everything was split 50/50,” Kornbread explains. “There’s not, ‘If you wrote this percent of the song, you get 70% and I get 30%.’ Everything is 50/50. We’re the same team representing the same brand.”
With 10 years and counting in the industry, the future for Beanz N Kornbread looks bright. With a highly anticipated full length album with Z-Ro titled Ghetto Gospel and a new single by Kirko Bangz nearing completion, they hope to further grow their rap discography while exploring new genres as well. Kornbread wants them to emulate the effortless genre-hopping work of production legends like Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. “We don’t really consider ourselves hip-hop producers,” say Kornbread. “That might be kind of blasphemous, but we kind of consider ourselves music producers.”
With a proven track record of giving rappers top-notch production, they want labels and artists to now see them as as one stop shop. “We kind of put ourselves in that vein of the old school producers where you can send your artists to us and you can come out with a finished product,” says Kornbread. “Mixed, mastered, written, produced — everything.”
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