Without sound, you have jack diddly squat
”Yo? Are you ready to record?”
You nod your head excitedly and head over to the recording booth. The song that you wrote on your iPhone last night in between Full House episodes is the one that’s going to get you into the discussion for XXL 2018. You read through it over and over before you went to bed and decided to avoid looking at it in the morning: you want to go in the booth fresh, ready to destroy it. You walk into the booth and look through the slim window, giving the man behind the controls the thumbs up. As crisp drums shoot through the earphones you have on, you grab the mic and wait to come in when the time is right.
Only you wait. Wait some more. You hesitate and wait again, for the next go round. Only it never comes. You realize that you don’t know your sound.
What exactly is a “sound?” Is that still relevant in 2017? Oh my friend, it’s more relevant than ever.
Allow me to explain.
We are in the midst of a generation of very intelligent artists. There are wordsmiths that can string together incredibly complex ballads that will send a listener to grab the dictionary off the nearest shelf. Since traditional hip-hop listeners believe that this is all it takes to be successful, why isn’t everyone hopping on private jets?
Since there are so many people capable of doing the same thing, what separates stars from regulars is their sound. How they craft everything else besides lyrics. An aesthetic that leaves the listener literally anxious for more. Sound. It’s so powerful that people who reinvent a failing one are able to dramatically improve their careers with the snap of a finger.
Why doesn’t everyone have sound?
Well, they actually do. Let me explain.
When you step into the booth and record a song, rather haphazardly, you’ve created a sound. It may not be a good one, but it’s going to stick with you. When you record the next song, that previously established sound (whether good or bad) sticks with the listener and could potentially persuade them not to listen to it. That’s why its important to create a sound that people will want to listen to over and over again.
Do you know how to find it? There’s no magical trick. You need to experiment and find what works best for you. Try to be as unique as possible. Have you ever listened to Divine Council? Their in-house producer ICYTWAT has created an instantly recognizable sound that has propelled the group to the stratosphere. Think of this when you craft your sound; create one that resonates with people to keep them hungry.
Once you find your sound, don’t be afraid to change it if it isn’t receiving the reception that you want. That’s what keeps aspiring artists from achieving the success that they so desperately desire: a stubborn fascination with the sound that they know. It stems from fear of the unknown. But every listener in the history of the world respects artists more who experiment with new ideas instead of keeping with older ones.
As you begin to write-no-begin to think of writing a song, think about the sound behind it. Think about how you can change and warp it by experimenting with different ideas. Once you do this and find the sound that works for you as well as your audience, you’ll be on your way to sold out shows at Coachella.