Last Friday Studio 11 got a visit from one of our favorite clients, N.E.P.H.E.W.
NEPH is a real grinder who has put in a ton of work up here since 2005. I can recall a line from one of his earlier raps that went something like “I coulda bought a house the way I’ve been recording.” Its always a pleasure when NEPH rolls through, not just on a musical level, because a session with NEPH is sure to bring talks of politics, religion, the rap game, history, and a general look at life.
In this video blog, we get to peep N.E.P.H.E.W. working on a commercial joint called Pumpin’ That Bass. The track was produced by Florida hit maker Wreck Wregular, and as you can hear, its a banger. The hook came with the track, and features some really cool chopped and screwed vocals, some chants, and some high pitched vocal chops.
I tracked NEPH through the Audio Technica AT-4060 and the Manly VoxBox, which is an all tube signal path. On the vocal mix, I stuck to my old standbys, Renaissance De-Essers before hitting the Eq-3D night-pro, a unit famous for its high frequency “air” band. Once the lead vocal was tuned in and tamed, I added some filtering and delays on the ad-libs, and did some pan automation. Usually I use a heavy handed limiter on hip hop tracks, like the Waves L2, but it sounded a bit harsh on this record, so I ended up making it slam with the Sony Oxford limiter.
All in all it was a short, but really fun and productive session with a high energy track. NEPH’s music is available on itunes, amazon, and his website.
With all the hype around Rockie Fresh’s new mixtape, entitled The Otherside, it only makes sense that it was done right here at Studio 11.
Rockie’s whole project was produced by longtime Studio 11 clients, The Cartoonz, who have been more than busy up here lately, check back often for more of their gorgeous work.
The above record, “A.C. Green” is the intro to the mixtape, featuring a scratched Kanye West sample on the hook. The rest of the production is nice and eerie, with some low pass filtered drums, and lots of LFO swept pads. Considering its position on the mixtape, we went for a crystal clear, un-stacked lead vocal for Rockie. No doubles were used, nor does he have any ad-libs. To add some space to the vocal we threw on a darkened 1/8th note delay, and some Sony Oxford reverb. To tame a vocal mixed this loud, 2 de-essers were used at tuned frequencies to handle the sibilance.
Upon last checking in with Rockie and his management, “The Otherside” was approaching an amazing 30,000 downloads! I can say with confidence that this project was done the right way, top to bottom, with top notch production, perfected performance, stellar internet promotion, clean artwork, and of course, our engineering!
With the buzz started by this project, Rockie is sure to be out soon with a follow up, look out majors!
When I stop to think of Chicago House music, there’s simply no way I can’t think of DJ Ron Carroll. Not only has Ron lit up dance floors the world over from behind the decks, he’s provided other DJ’s with a bounty of soulful house classics from Barbara Tucker’s “I Get Lifted” to his comedy rap “Walking Down The Street (With My Nikes On)”. The first time I met Ron was about ten years ago in Cannes, France at the Midem festivaI. In the years since, I can fondly remember promoting nights with Ron on the decks – some of the most enjoyable at the club AND on the dancefloor!
For holiday time, Ron whipped up “Can’t Wait For Tonight” on a whim one morning. A few hours later he dropped me a line to mix the track up in Studio A. The track kicks out with a BIG hard kick and splashy techno synths. For the kick and drums I went to my trusty ELI Fatso compressors with a touch of Focusrite Red compression to pull out some snap. The rest of the track went to the Manley Vari-Mu for a nice smooth, thick fill. Ambient processing came via the Lexicon 300, Sony M7, and Sony R7. The track took quite a bit of equalization across the board – a task for which the Oram-Trident is famous. There was also quite a bit of work in Protools, but hey – who care’s about that?! We wound it up with some mastering touch-ups, making use of the Focusrite Blue 315 equalizer, Manley Vari-Mu, and Waves L3 limiter. Overall, I feel the processing highlights the hard driving feel of the rhythm married with the smooth classic R&B feel on Ron’s vocals. There’s very few artists who can captivate such a cross-genre vibe successfully.
Enjoy The New Year!- Alex Gross
Be sure and check out Ron Carroll anytime he’s on decks around the world! You’re sure to have a top-notch night!
Saturday we got a visit from south siders Big Bizness.
The BB crew had a big year in 2010, with Butta putting out a great mixtape and releasing a Chicago radio hit called “Whutz Poppin Ride.” Both the actual song and the remix are still being played pretty heavy around town…not surprising considering the names who stepped up to the plate to feature with Butta, such as:
Arrogant, Bo Deal, Benny Franks, Boss Kane, and DatBoyHot.
Here we see that its not always Butta that blows up the booth when Big Bizness sessions are booked. This weekend we got to work with some of the other guys in the camp for the record “That Thang.” The song features Swat and Da Beast of Big Bizness. Swat has really come into his own lately as the resident singer for the group, and Da Beast always has hot 16s on deck!
We took a classic Pop/R&B approach on the mix. Swat’s vocals have a touch of Antares Autotune, an analog sounding delay through the Waves Supertap, and some corrective eq, compression, and reverb. Da Beast’s verses are wet up a bit with the Waves Enigma, using Steve’s secret variation to the “flangeverb” preset.
Find out more about Big Bizness HERE, or just tune in to WGCI!
Flyy City Entertainment’s resident R&B artist C-Rich came through for a really productive session. In 3 hours, he was able to knock out 2 full songs, and make some edits on 3 others. We get to hear C-Rich talk briefly about his upcoming project, “Back Seat Music,” and watch him record parts of his new song “Alone.”
Mr. Rich is really organized in the studio, so sessions with him are always relaxed and a lot of fun. The song featured in this video blog is a heart felt, somber piece. Some notable techniques were used on the mix side of this record. The hook clearly took a back seat (no pun intended) to the lead parts… so we went for that “dreamy” and “airy” background vocal sound… The main vocals are speckled with delays and a nice Sony Oxford plate reverb emulation.
C-Rich and the whole Flyy City team seem to be gearing up for a big year….I for one cant wait!