Tag Archive: new a.p.t. album


Hey peeps!

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!

-A.P.T.

A.P.T.’s new album now available for download at http://tinyurl.com/aptstrikesback

Featuring “The Betty White Song (I’m Makin’ Moves),” “No Memories”
and the soon-to-be #1 summer anthem, “NO U AINT!” For track listing, click HERE!

Today’s music video is for the song “NO U AINT” (produced by K.K.O.F.)

HELP MAKE THIS THE #1 SONG IN THE WORLD – DOWNLOAD IT HERE AND REQUEST IT ON RADIO AND AT THE CLUBS!

INSIGHT INTO A SONG:

This was actually not a planned song for the album, or a planned song in my head at all.  I got up one morning and went to Facebook (as I do everyday) and noticed that a few of my FB friends had replaced their profile pictures with the words “NO U AINT” printed in red letters against a black background.

Normally I wouldn’t have thought anything of it… but the fact that 5 people had the same picture had me curious.  So I did some investigating, and it turned out that (a) all 5 people worked at the KJLH 102.3 radio station here in L.A. (which is not even 5 minutes from my apartment); and (b) the pic was actually a close-up shot of a t-shirt they made with the slogan “NO U AINT.”

It also turns out that they were selling the shirts, and people were actually leaving them wall messages asking for purchase information.

Upon knowing all this, my brain processed the info like this:

#REACTION 1: “HA HA HA, what a funny slogan for a shirt!  That’s awesome…”

#REACTION 2: “Man, that shirt should have a theme song to it or something…”

#REACTION 3: “Hey, wait a minute… I could write a theme song to it or something!!!”

I didn’t know if they’d be receptive to me making a song for the shirt… but at the time, I didn’t really care.  I figured I had a short time span to create a song before someone else beat me to the punch;  I immediately went through my catalog of beats and found one sent to me by ATL producer K.K.O.F. that sounded PERFECT (bouncy, powerful, and very very catchy).  After that I grabbed a pen, found the nearest piece of paper I could, and just started writing.

The writing of the song wasn’t that hard.  In fact, once I had the idea down that I wanted to chant “No U Aint” at the end of each line, the verses themselves only took 15 or 20 minutes to write.  The hardest part of the whole song to write was the chorus – that took me about another hour or so.

In writing the song, there were a bunch of things I had to think about.  This isn’t a song where I could just write anything – it had to be catchy, something that would instantly grab people’s ears, yet could also be played on radio and/or used in future advertisements should they ever decide to advertise the shirts on TV or radio.

I wanted the basic focus of the song to be similar to that of the “Frontin'” song I recorded/made a video for a few weeks ago: a song calling out people who lie about things they don’t have, or think things about themselves that just aren’t true.

I also wanted the song to sound like it was professionally recorded, mixed and mastered.  Although I’m “okay” at doing my own mix-downs, I knew that something of this magnitude would be more effective if mixed by people who have done this for longer than me.

Luckily, my roommate Terry, a.k.a. T. Whistle (a.k.a. the guy holding the guitar in the video), has recording equipment I don’t have (i.e. Pro-Tools, a REAL studio mic) and a friend down in Florida who has been mixing and mastering songs for decades. I recorded the track, he sent it down to his friend in Florida, and it came back soundin’ like pure GOLD!

I sent the track to my friend Rhea (works at the station and is also an alumnus of my college, the oh-so-prestigious Hampton University in Hampton, VA) to see if she and the rest of the group approved of the song.  I think they had someone else who was going to record a “No U Aint” song… but ever since I gave my version to them, I haven’t heard much about it 🙂

Side note: I am now also helping to sell shirts, and they have proven to be quite popular! If you’re interested in purchasing a shirt, click HERE for order information!

Some Interesting Song Tidbits:

1. I wanted to record the song saying “No U Aint” at the end of every line.  Terry thought it would be too monotonous to say it all the time, so we actually wrote out other things for me to say at the end of some of the lines.  However, I didn’t know where or when I wanted to make those changes.  We recorded the version with me saying “No U Aint” at the end of every line as placeholders until I could record in the other lines later.  Of course, for me it was a timing issue: I was going to see Rhea later that night and wanted to have a version for her to hear, so I made her a copy of the song with just “No U Aint” being said at the end of each line.  She liked it, so I didn’t feel the need to change it at that point.

2. I also recorded a Lakers’ 2010 Finals version.  They made Gold-and-Purple versions of the shirt (the team’s colors), and I thought it would be cool to have something Lakers’ fans could play to cool off the fans of hatred coming from Boston Celtic lovers.

3. I recorded more layers for this version than any song I’ve done up to this point.  I wanted it to sound like a crowd was chanting the song, but that meant having to record take after take after take after take of each line.  I could barely talk by the end of the recording session!

INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT

Okay, so I had a different idea for the video shoot which I may still end up using in the long run.  It’s more professional, and will hopefully have more people in it…

With that said, I had an album that came out yesterday and, aside from a few album reviews I’ve done, I didn’t have any new videos.  Since I’m promoting the heck out of this song AND trying to sell shirts, I knew I had to make a video for it even if it was just me in the video.

The shoot itself was very easy.  I filmed myself in front of my green screen in my “No U Aint” shirt (gold and yellow) and shorts, then in my Michael Jackson shirt with blue jeans.  I asked my roommate Terry to make a cameo in the video, and I also asked K.K.O.F. to send me footage of him mouthing the “No U Aint” parts of the song so he could be in it as well.

As usual, the longest part of editing the video was the green screen – specifically, finding and choosing what backgrounds and pictures to use to make the video most effective.  I also made sure to include pics of the KJLH mixdown crew who are involved with the “No U Aint” shirts, and gave them a shout out at the end.

That’s pretty much it.  Like I said, I hope to record a more interactive video to the song at a later date… but you know me, when I have something I want to film, I do with what I have and turn it into something – and actually, I think it turned out pretty darn good!

Some Interesting Video Shoot Tidbits:

1. Terry is wearing an old school shirt.  On the front it has a black Bart Simpson; on the back, it has M.C. Hammer!

2. I did 2 takes of me in the Lakers’ shirt, and 2 takes of me in the MJ shirt.  I ended up using one take from each in the video.  Clearly, I don’t like having to look through a bunch of footage when I edit!

3. The footage at the beginning of the video was sent to me by Rhea.  I think her and her friends were somewhere in downtown L.A. and the dude yelling “No U Aint!” in the video saw Rhea’s friend Kelli’s shirt.  I thought it was pretty hilarious, and a great way to start off the video.

4. The green fuzzy “Bad TV” effect on the shots of me in the MJ shirt was added last minute, as was the effect over Terry’s footage.  It looks like a creative decision, but in reality… when I did the green screen for the MJ shirt shot and exported it out, I did so without realizing that (a) there were small jagged green outlines around my body, and (b) a small part of my shirt that the background picture could be seen through.  Rather than re-rendering that whole shot over, I decided to add the green fuzz “Bad TV” effect.  And, since I now had one shot with a graphic effect, I figured I should add one more to one of the other shots – and I chose to do it to the one with Terry in it.

5. While looking up pics to use for the video, I found a “Black Card” picture with the initials “A. L. Taylor”.  My initials are “A. P. Taylor,” so I thought it would be a GREAT idea to use the graphic in the backdrop for the part where I say “Plus you got a black card?”  My friend Joe was able to photo-shop the “L” and turn it into a “P.” Pretty cool, huh?

6. I chose to wear the Michael Jackson shirt in the video because this month is the 1-year anniversary of his death. R.I.P., MJ!

That’s all for now – enjoy the video, and be sure to request it on radio and at the clubs!! (Oh, and download it too!)

-A.P.T.