Monday, December 21, 2009

Instrumental Albums Are NOT Free Beats [OVAGROUND EXCLUSIVE w/ COMMENTARY]

Word up peeps,

What's going on out there?

I was reading an article off of entitled "Instrumental Albums Are NOT Free Beats!" This has (and still is ) a touchy subject in Hip-Hop seeing that as many artists that borrowing and outright stealing these hit records today.

As I read through the comments, KevinNottingham contibutor Justin mentioned me as one of the artists that are doing it right. The comment is below:

I think it is ok for an artist to use an instrumental album if it is done the right way. If you get permisson from the producer or you make it clear the production was originally on the instrumental album, I think it’s alright. It isn’t right when an artist promotes their project as if they producer worked with them specifically, that’s just like stealing. Sometimes with instrumental albums, it just seems like the beats deserve someone spitting on them. I think Exile’s Radio is a perfect example. I didn’t think that it worked well on it’s own, an emcee getting on those beats would’ve been better. Apparently now Exile is gonna do a remix projet doing just that. Another good example is L’Daialogue rocking over Oddisee’s instrumental ep’s. I prefer those over the original but L’Daia makes it clear that these were off Oddisee’s EP’s and to support those. I believe he reached out to Oddisee too, I’m not sure though.

So, with that being said...there are a lot of different opinion on this issue. I would like you to actually read the original article at this link: Then, I would like you to take a look at letter of sorts below to get another perspective of the issue and judge for yourself.

Producers deserve respect for their hard work but sometimes another voice can be helpful (I stress 'sometimes') for both parties. Then again, a lot of these wack guys make it that much harder for the game in general. So, we're back to square one again. So, check out both views and judge for yourself.



L'Daialogue's view:

Dear Kevin Nottingham,

Hello again. This is L’Daialogue DiCaprio and I am an emcee from Memphis, Tennessee that has been a frequent contributor to your site and an avid reader also.

I read the piece “Instrumental Albums Are NOT Free Beats!” and I wanted to add my 2 cents to the discussion.

As the article said, I believe agree with people not taking beats of producers (established and non-established) and releasing them as a legitimate collaboration. For example: I also hate people that take 9th Wonder’s beats and throw that infamous “produced by 9th Wonder”-tag on the track. More often than not we find out that said emcee did not even bother to hit up 9th to say “make me hot, P!” They just took P’s pots and pans and did the cooking themselves. I am guilty of this, too.

Earlier this year, 9th’s artist Tyler Woods had a track called “Prove Myself” and I made an UNOFFICIAL remix of the song and leaked it out to a few different websites and blogs. The purpose of this was more to get the track circulating in circles that he may (or may not) have gotten that press without an emcee on the track. Plus, I felt like it was a hot song.

Did I let people know that this track was an UNOFFICIAL remix? Yes. It was up to the people that listened to the track to post it on their sites. I NEVER pressed up physical copies and as far as know it never went pass the internet (to my knowledge). But, I have gotten positive reviews from the song because they liked the different angle I took with the track and have gone on to support 9th Wonder, Tyler Woods and JAMLA because of this.

Another producer that gets this treatment (unfairly might I add) is the producer J. Dilla. Half of these new tracks coming out (and that goes for everybody major, independent or otherwise) did not have a “living” J. Dilla stamp of approval. As much as I kick it with DJ Houseshoes in Los Angeles, this could never happen. He would kick me out of Fat Beats for trying to pass of a tape of J. Dilla production and I respect him for that. It’s thousands of people from Detroit to Los Angeles to Amsterdam that police’s Dilla beats. But, you have had people like Charles Hamilton tried to pass off his entire project (that was internet-based but could have eventually went retail) as a project produced by J. Dilla and that is beyond wrong. That is “if I see you at the show, I’ma kill you on site” wrong. But, I digress.

I have put out many projects this past year and the one that I truly stepped out on a limb in this sense with is the Odd Daialogue tapes. These EP’s are derived from D.C. producer Oddisee’s “Odd Autumn” and “Odd Autumn” beat tapes. They were all straight instrumental projects and free on the internet for download.

As soon as I finished these EP’s, I hit up Oddisee. I let him know that I dug his projects and he replied (via email): “Dope sh-- homie, Glad to see artist digging the project enough to do something to it! Appreciate it and keep grinding!” So, I didn’t see it as a problem like I said on the intro of “Odd Daialogue 2”: Promotion goes both ways. People in my circles are going to get put on to Oddisee’s music/movement and vice versa. My intent was not to steal Oddisee’s music.

I understand that emcees CANNOT mislead the general public into believing that they have collaborated with producers that (a.) they don’t know, (b.) they could never ever in a million years afford the beat (i.e. Dre, Neptunes, 9th Wonder, Primo etc.) or (c.) the producer is deceased (i.e. J-Dilla). Mixtapes are a whole different ballgame in that regard. Mixtapes have many producers’ beats on them but emcees are not SUPPOSED to be shopping those beats as retail projects.

In the case of say of rapper/producer Kinfolk Kia Shine, he got paid because a prominent artist (Lil’ Wayne) rapped over an instrumental he produced. Then, another artist (Drake) sampled the mixtape song that Kia gave to Wayne for his lead single (Best I Ever Had). Kia Shine was even quoted as saying the check that he would be getting from that song would be “the best he’s ever had”.

So, there are so many dimensions to this discussion because what happens if the said producer’s instrumental get the emcee a bigger break in the form of a record deal? That’s bad, right? But, what if a track used by an unknown emcee could give some producer a BIGGER break? I don’t think that many independent producers would turn down an opportunity like Kia Shine had.

In conclusion, I respect all producers because I understand their struggles but this is not just a cut and dry discussion. For the emcees in the world, it should be a discussion of an old-school sort of etiquette about other people’s instrumentals. DON’T USE OTHER PEOPLE’S BEATS WITHOUT PERMISSION. But, to the producers in the world (especially the non-established beatsmiths), I wouldn’t put out too many beat tapes with so many hungry emcees looking for sonic landscapes to craft their rhymes over. Courtesy can only go so far when you have instrumental sets floating on these blogs and websites. So, the happy medium is for emcees to try to reach out to producers (email, phone or whatever) and producers to be more selective in the beats that they let out. Otherwise, the circle WILL continue and you will have more articles like these.


p.s. InDAIpendent EP is coming! Produced entirely by MIDI Marc and I do have the okay from the producer to release the project lol.


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