All you need is passion and a daw to create.” – Jiabeats
Since its inception, Hip-Hop production has been consistently misinterpreted by both fans and artists alike. Only within the past 5 years have major acclimation or proper compensation been bestowed upon the curators of your favorite songs. Alongside these tribulations, it’s becoming apparent that listeners simply don’t know or want to know about one of the cornerstones of Hip-Hop.
In 2019, household names like Metro Boomin or Zaytoven ring bells in our memory but most couldn’t tell you who J-Dilla was. While this isn’t necessarily the fault of a new listener, it begs the question – do the new era of producers familiarize themselves with the discography of the legends? Is it necessary? As the digital age continues to change exponentially every year, we all must realize – so will its composers.
I sat down with 18 year old producer Jiabeats, of Nashville’s Hip-Hop label Cake Records, to discuss his production process and interpretation of Hip-Hop productions storied history.
I started out on my mom’s 2007 MacBook Pro running GarageBand when I was about 9, and learned the basics of production going into my early teenage years.
ProTools is the industry standard, but other programs like Ableton or Fruity Loops seems to still be relevant in the game. What program did you learn on, and what is your personal favorite to use?
I’ve got mad respect for those who can put their head to the grindstone with Pro Tools – I haven’t used it for nearly long enough to understand the ins and outs of it. When I see others maneuvering around with ease, it blows my mind. Saying that, I’ve been around the block with digital audio workstations. Since I was 13 I’ve worked with Ableton Live, Reason, Logic, and even FL on a Windows software emulator (before it was released for Mac). My go-to software is Ableton Live, especially since the tenth version of the DAW was released. I haven’t had the slightest inclination to use another program.
Influences are everything in Music. Saying that, what are some of the artists/producers you draw from when crafting new music?
I dig the dusty and minimalistic style of Wun Two. I really admire Homage Beats’ experimentation with widespread variety of genres within his catalog. Most importantly, J-Dilla’s entire discography reminds me that there is never an excuse to not be creating and devoting maximum time to my craft.
It’s no surprise that Cake Records closely aligns with Hip-Hop. Outside of LoFi hip-hop, what is your favorite genre of music to produce for?
Definitely Jazz, whether it be Jazz-Funk or Avant-Garde influenced, I primarily base my composition and productions on the styles such as Steve Kuhn, Kenny Burrell, and Urbie Green.
What’s the biggest misconception of music production? What would you like music fans or upcoming producers to understand about your career path?
The first misconception is that making beats is an easy process. I’ve realized that people hear compositions as a whole, not as separate tracks, therefore not allotting proper recognition on how the producer incorporated different sounds to make a groovy track. One more thing, and this is for the upcoming producers out there – you don’t need a studio to make music. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard state that they can’t produce or create without a studio. When I started selling beats and getting a little bit of recognition as a producer, I was in my bedroom using BOSE headphones, an iMac, and an Akai MPK Mini. All you need is passion and a daw to create.
Nashville is a Country Music town. This isn’t news to anyone. With that in mind, do you think working within the 615 hinders growth for you at all? Would residing in LA or NY change your direction as a producer?
I don’t think it necessarily hinders my ability to grow as a producer – Country Music is the predominant genre in Nashville, but it doesn’t really drown out the Hip Hop scene (which is actually growing quickly in the the 615 as of the last few years). Regardless, I can’t deny I would much rather live on the west coast. From what I’ve heard from associates in Cake, who have spent a bit of time in LA working on music, there seems to be a greater amount of opportunity. It wouldn’t exactly change my direction as a producer, but I think having more connections with like-minded (and open-minded) individuals could really open doors for not only myself, but for Cake Records.
Who’s your favorite producer/engineer currently working in the industry, and why?
Currently, my favorite producer is the homie Homage Beats who’ absolutely killing the game. His ability to grind out a new beat every day, which is dope enough to post, is amazing.
Lastly: What is your favorite beat, song you have worked on + why?
My favorite beat would definitely be “Fly,” an Old School Hip Hop Type Beat that I released on Youtube, which ended up doing really well. I’ve always been obsessed with incorporating vinyl scratching, and I finally was able to record some decent scratches, which I slipped into the beat, creating an entirely new vibe that I loved. In less than 24 hours it received 10,000 views + accompanied by extremely supportive comments that let me know I was doing something right!