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Client Feature: Lazy Mane & Kosherbeets

Posted by Keith Freund On September - 18 - 20092 COMMENTS

Kosherbeets and Lazy Mane

It was 2003 when I first discovered Lazy Mane & Kosherbeets through the grapevine as they began to generate a buzz in the North Atlanta area. I got Kosherbeets’s number from a mutual friend, picked his brain about music, recording, etc., and the rest is history. I cut my teeth mixing his solo release, Dude, College, and now his joint effort with long time collaborator Lazy Mane: Supreme I.N.K.


They’ve since shared the stage with a number of hip hop notables including Atlanta mainstays the Ying Yang Twins and quintiple-platinum act Nappy Roots (of “Awnaw” fame). Tonight, Friday, Sept. 18th, 2009, you can catch the duo at Lenny’s in Atlanta performing with Dungeon Family* artists Killer Mike (featured on a number of OutKast songs), Cool Breeze, and Rico Wade of Organized Noize.


Lazy Mane and Kosherbeets at Lenny's

I don’t know exactly where to pin down their sound-a little Bone Thugs here, some early OutKast there, and a combination of all those jazz records, photographs, and history books they’ve got lying around the studio. The result is a classic sound that spits in the face of trends and resonates on both an intellectual and primal level.


Supreme I.N.K is their best to date, particularly The Springtime, which is a sample-based, major key uptempo song with “instant classic” written all over it, and The Galaxi, a trippy, dark, futuristic beat with lyrics and live sax to match. 


In honor of the album’s release, I’ve thrown together a sampler with some of my favorite cuts from the album:


Stream the Fix Your Mix Supreme I.N.K Sampler (NSFW)


Mixing In An Unfamiliar Environment


Mixing in an artist’s studio is kind of like becoming fluent in Pig Latin. You’ve already got all the skills you need, it just takes a little bit longer to get your ideas out at first. To get familiar with their speakers (Event 8s) and room, I referenced their influences for similar instrumentation/arrangements but used more recent mainstream songs to get the low end sounding current. We also checked mixes in a number of consumer environments including a few vehicles with decked-out audio systems and took notes for revisions.


Supreme I.N.K. is the only full album that I’ve mixed entirely independent of my own gear and rig.** It was done entirely in the box (plug ins only, no outboard gear) using primarily the Waves Diamond and SSL plugin bundles in Pro Tools.


Fixing Their Mix


I consider all of my projects to be collaborative efforts, but especially in this case–they did the rough mixes and final tweaks, I sculpted the sound into a more professional and cohesive arrangement. So this was one of those cases where I literally “fixed [their] mix” rather than playing the traditional mix engineer role.


I read that one of my favorite engineers, Rich Costey, did this on Foo Fighters’ latest, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. The tracking engineer did the initial mix work if I’m not mistaken and RC was brought in to finish it off.


They’ve intentionally eschewed iTunes and Amazon in favor of a more grassroots approach by giving away the album for free online and selling physical copies at shows. So check them out at Lenny’s if you can, and grab the album. It’s free!


supreme-ink-album-coverDownload the album for free @ SupremeINK.net


*I owe Will (Kosherbeets) a special debt of gratitude for introducing me to my favorite rap album of all time, Dungeon Family’s Even In Darkness. Dungeon Family is a more or less defunct (hibernating?) collective which includes OutKast, Goodie Mob, Cee-Lo, et al.


**For my clients reading, note that I don’t generally do attended sessions–the time we save from this is one of the ways we can provide an incredible value at a rate that’s affordable for independent artists–but I made an exception for these guys because of our long time relationship and hey, it gave me a good excuse to go back to Atlanta for a few weeks.

The Rise & Fall of the Southern Rap Empire

Posted by Keith Freund On August - 28 - 20094 COMMENTS

atlanta-skyline-3From crunk to snap music, Southern rap has reigned supreme over the charts for the last half decade. When ATL stole the crown from NYC as the Mecca of hip hop, aspiring rappers and producers made the pilgrimage from all over to find a better, more trill existence. (Most would fail upon realizing it’s not enough to simply rhyme ‘grind’ with ‘shine’ as many times as possible.) After everything Lil Jon and TI did for Atlanta’s growth, the Georgia Department of Tourism should write them monthly checks.


For my fellow Atlanta natives, I should point out that what old school ATLiens may think of as Southern rap is not really what I’m talking about in this article. The OutKasts and Goodie Mobs of yore are not what made the Atlanta Braves hat the new Yankees cap. What I’m talking about here is a little more, well… basic. Let’s have a look:


Characteristics of (Mid-2000s Era) Southern Rap

  • Party-oriented lyrical themes including sex, alcohol, dancing, strippers, and nightclub activity (a shift away from violent or macho ‘street’ lyrics of 90s rap)
  • 808 kicks
  • Claps & snaps on the backbeat (more on this: Claps & Snaps: The Death of the Snare Drum)
  • Single note or nonexistent basslines
  • Slower tempos (70-78 BPM)
  • Synth-based instrumentation (versus sample-based)

Pop music is often scoffed at and generally regarded as simple by music buffs, but obviously these music buffs have never gotten their swerve on at The Cheetah. Simplicity works especially well in club settings. The reason behind this can be explained using a maxim that (FYM blog cowriter) Phil first posited to me many years ago, which is that in order for something to be big, something else must also be small. Put another way:

The less stuff you have in a mix, the bigger each individual thing can be.

And of course in rap music the quest is always for tighter and deeper low end, whether that be a kick drum or bassline. An 808 kick sound is special because it’s somewhere in between the two in terms of its role. The drawback is that an 808 is so deep that it usually cannot be heard on smaller speakers and headphones that do not produce sub-bass frequencies. The benefit is you don’t have two instruments competing for that all-important frequency range where a mix can easily get cluttered. When the only other stuff you’ve got going on is a snap, vocal, and single-note synth line, huge low end is in the cards. The result is a hypnotic (post-apocalyptic?) dance sound that can be baffling to the uninitiated but works like magic in clubs because of their better low end reproduction capabilities.


Key Songs


“It’s Goin Down” – Yung Joc


Get Low” – Lil Jon feat. Ying Yang Twins

Yeah” – Usher feat. Lil Jon

Crank That” – Souja Boy Tell Em

Laffy Taffy“* – D4L


Today, it’s hard to say that Atlanta is still the international capital of rap. Over the years, rap has traveled back and forth from East Coast (actually the Northeast) to West Coast, and eventually to the South. With collaborations between people like Kanye and Young Jeezy, you could say we’re overdue for a shift back towards the East Coast sound. But history rarely repeats itself so directly.** No, I believe Top 40 rap is taking a step in a macro direction: away from regional sounds and towards pop crossover.


The Decline of the Southern Rap Empire


atlanta-capRight now, we are in the middle of a shift. The South isn’t dead yet–many of its calling cards and idiosyncrasies are still in effect. But hip-hop is shifting away not just from the South but regional sounds altogether, with even the hardest, street-est rappers going in a homogeneous pop direction (blame it on the Goose economy). Contrary to what Jay-Z wants you to believe, things are not going back to the New York sound. Here is the current state of affairs:

  • There’s no doubt the snare drum is making a comeback, particularly syncopated patterns and rimshots (see: Drake’s latest “Forever” feat. Lil Wayne, Kanye, & Eminem).
  • Basslines are now back in full force but are often used in conjunction with 808s. This was one of my main qualms with crunk and snap music; a bassline is what gives a song its soul.
  • Arrangements are becoming more dense and musical.
  • Auto-Tuned, sung choruses are taking the place of repetitive chant hooks.
  • Examples: “Fire Burning” by Sean Kingston and “Blame It” by Jamie Foxx feat. T-Pain


Am I missing anything? I want your input on what typifies the Southern rap genre and where music is headed.*** With a new president and the turn of the decade steadily approaching, music almost certainly has more surprises in store for us and I’ll be reporting live from the trenches every step of the way.


*This song is bewildering even to me.


**I believe I’m paraphrasing Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond but I’m not entirely sure.


***Many of the changes listed in this article also reflect the return of R&B, but that’s a story for another day.

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