Now that I’ve announced my new album – available on October 25 (title still withheld for the moment) – it’s time for me to figure out what’s going to actually go on it.
I’ve never really talked about my process for how I create my albums, so now’s as good a time as any to do so. With each album, I try to create something that will have a certain feel to it. That feeling varies from album to album, but I never go into the creation of an album haphazardly.
Many artists will say things like, “oh, I have 60 or 70 records I’ve recorded, and now I just have to randomly select which songs go on it.” To me, that doesn’t make a very good album. At best, it gives the album the feeling of a mixtape, but not something that takes the listener on a journey. Think about Lil’ Wayne’s “Tha Carter IV”: it’s an ok album at best, but the song choices just seem like they were picked out from a mixed pile and pasted together in a random order for the album.
Most of my albums start out the same way. Prior to actually considering releasing an album, I’ll record a few songs here and there whenever the mood fits me. These songs may not necessarily go together at first; however, they are songs that help get me into the regular practice of writing again, as well as thinking up album titles. I also start collecting beats from various places, be it ones I already have saved on my hard drive, ones I’ve gotten from other people, or ones I’ve found online (usually from Soundclick.com, though I have other sources as well).
I also have song ideas written all over the place that I have saved up somewhere. The part that sux about it is song ideas come to me at the most inconvenient times. For example, I’ll be at work helping a customer out, and a song idea, along with verses for said song, will pop in my head. I end up having to frantically find a pen and paper to write the ideas down, lest I end up forgetting them and cursing myself for it later. I have a journal (actually, several journals) that I’ve written songs in, as well as a sketch pad that allows me to write my ideas down in all sorts of crazy ways.
At some point, I start thinking up titles for the album – again, not a small task. Because I’m still somewhat of an unknown artist (despite the popularity of the Obama Milli song), I’m always thinking up title names that will allow me to (a) stand out, (b) create a buzz, and (c) make people want to download my stuff. This, by the way, goes for song titles, too – my goal is always to have a few titles on the album that make people go “What the heck could that song POSSIBLY be about?” so they’ll be curious enough to download it.
Once I’ve thought up the album title, I go back and listen to any songs I currently have recorded, any beats I have in storage, and any song ideas I have yet to record. With these three things combined, I go about the task of figuring out what elements will give me the feeling I’m looking for, i.e. the feel that the chosen album title dictates should match with it. This part is actually quite hard – like I said earlier, I don’t record 50 or 60 tracks for an album. What will happen is, I’ll usually have 5 or 6 songs already recorded, and 20 or 30 beats I’d like to use that haven’t been touched yet. I’ll look at the song titles I have and figure out which ones would go with which beats; then, I figure out which beats, combined with said song ideas, match the album feeling I’m looking for.
As an artist, it’s really easy to be biased towards my own stuff. For example: for this particular album, I had a grand total of 22 songs I would’ve recorded for it; however, I also have to understand that, when creating an album, I’m essentially asking the downloader to spend x-amount of time with me. 22 songs may sound like a good idea at first, but most people are usually ready to switch to something else after 10 to 12 songs. This means some of the beats and/or songs I may want to use for this album will have to be moved to my next album.
The good part is, by deleting some of these beats that have yet to be recorded on, I’m able to cut down the amount of time I need to record the remaining songs on the remaining beats. So long as I’m able to find the beats that match the feel of the record, I can save the recording of songs on the other beats for when I’m ready for the next album!
As for the actual writing for these songs, I rarely write a whole record in one sitting. Granted, I’m able to do it if I need to, especially now that I’m a professional song writer and have had more time to practice at it. Still, my process has been the same for a while now: I’ll write the second verse first, take a break, come back to it and work on the first verse then, if necessary, add in a 3rd verse. Most of my songs these days only have 2 verses (note: most DJs usually switch to another song after the 2nd verse), but I’ll add a 3rd one in if I can’t complete the story and/or song feel by the end of the 2nd one.
Anyway… so, that’s where I’m at now: writing the rest of my songs (of which there are currently eight) and recording them sometime before October 25th! I KNOW you all will enjoy the album – it’s very up-tempo, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure, and the production value/beats are SIIIICK!!
That’s all for now!