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One Of The Most Critical Music-Making Steps

Updated: Jan 5

As producers that came out of DJ’ing first, a lot of times, there are a few extra steps to music production before you can say the song is really “finished.” One of those major steps is, if you’re making tracks as DJ’s, and for DJ’s, you need to make sure the track is DJ friendly.

Does it stand up to other DJ heaters?
Does it blend well with other DJ classics?
Does the sonic quality measure up in a DJ system?
Does the feel of the track feel as good as some other DJ favorites?

These are VERY important questions to answer, and there’s really only one way to answer these questions to know for sure… load them in the DJ rig and play them!

One of the most satisfying moments of music production, as a DJ, is checking off this box. When you start a track, it doesn’t always end up the way you first envision – at least not for us. So often, you get an idea, and when you start to work on making it a real song, things change. You lose your train of thought. You lose inspiration. You get bored with it. You realize it wasn’t as exciting as you first thought. Whatever. For every one track you hear an artist put out, there were PLENTY more that came first, in most cases. We’re no exception. So, when you finally get one that comes out well enough to mix and master, and get the chance to put it to the ultimate test (at least in our minds as DJ’s), it is exciting! When we make music, we make music to get people moving, and DJ’s are supposed to be the leaders of that exercise. When we get the point where we get to test the song this way, we go nuts!

The Ultimate Music Test

A couple of months back I was working on a background beat for a video we were going to put together for Proper Knowledge Initiative. The video was supposed to accompany a blog article about someone’s testimony that had a lot of grit and drama to it. So, while I was thinking of ideas, I was listening to a lot of J Dilla and Pete Rock. Who else communicates grimy and smooth at the same time, better than those guys? When I got to putting down my own ideas, a lot of their vibe was coming out. We didn’t end up doing that video, but we couldn’t let the track go to waste. So, we took what started out as a cool loop for a video background beat, and made it into a track that we called “The Nod.” It became our tip-of-the-hat to the two producers that have inspired and motivated so much of our creativity in music and other artistic areas. When the song was done, we made the joke that, if a Pete Rock track and a Dilla track had a baby, it might sound something like this…

Jokes don’t validate though. We had to put it to the test. If we’re going to say that the beat reminds us of J Dilla and Pete Rock, it better mix well with J Dilla and/or Pete Rock. When we loaded the track in the rig, we loaded our track, “The Nod,” next to Illa J & J Dilla’s “R U Listenin’?” You can hear the results for yourself. The Nod got the nod, and passed the test. It knocked…

#musicproduction #musictips #hiphop #jdilla #peterock #djlife

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