Updated: Nov 7, 2021
What are dreams? You see something with your eyes closed that doesn’t exist in the real world. If you focus hard enough on the visions you see with your eyes closed, you can make them appear in the real world. What is that?
Creating culture is basically being a Jedi. You have to hone your craft & harness your creative energy or Force. You have to dedicate time & effort into craftsmanship, technique, skill & design in order to optimize certain functions, while leaving room for the muse of inspiration. You have to inspire yourself, educate yourself, broaden your horizons, & learn from a broad spectrum of information.
As you get better you're able to tap into the force in a much easier manner & become more prolific at a higher quality because you become accustomed to all of the necessary minute details that go into the craft & are able to experiment with broader ideas. You tap into the moment to create something that wasn't there, from a combination of things that are there. What's even crazier is if you sit there & create something, it might allow you to actually feed yourself. That's insane especially if you come from a place where food is hard to come by.
Recently Tyler The Creator went on stage at the BET awards & gave an ode to Hip Hop. He exclaimed how some of us live in societies where crime is incentivized, & justified. Yet some people redirect all of that energy that they could have used negatively & instead put it into creating something beautiful in the world. That’s what Hip Hop did, it gave youth a platform to do something positive in their communities & leave the conditions of their poverty.
The social conditions that surrounded the Hip Hop producers in the 70’s & 80s that created the genre stemmed from Black Panther & NOI ideals of building & owning your own, being independent & self sustaining. The producers would create opportunities for kids, that’s why the DJ used to be the premier act, because the DJ had all of the hottest records, the best MC, all of the newest equipment, & he was wearing the flyest clothes.
DJ's actually made an investment into their craft, with equipment, records, lifestyle, as well as education time, in order to find specific songs for specific occasions & see how people react to each song. They would have to create spinning techniques to differentiate themselves, it was competitive & it became a period of creative blossoming comparable to the Renaissance. These kids were going back to their cultural heritage & creating a new spin on something ancient like 16th century European renaissance artists did with art from the antiquity.
The people happened to like drum breaks so DJ Kool Herc kept looping them & that’s why generations of kids are capable of making a living by doing something beautiful & productive to this day. Those kids had nothing, but they focused really hard & from one single party created a multibillion dollar global culture.
The DJ's evolved into producers, & as the years went by & various craftsmen honed their crafts & evolved the culture, the Hip Hop producer became the most important role in modern Western culture. Hip Hop producers are the oracle of postmodern pop culture. A Hip Hop producer's job is to study cultural trends.
DJ's & producers spend all of their time consuming sonics, sounds & culture. That means synths, drums, strings, orchestras, album covers & liner notes, music videos, concerts, photographs, films, poems, fashion, philosophies, colours, lights & designs. Hip Hop producers find themselves at the intersection of where culture collides & because the foundations of the genre is sampling, we find ourselves at the forefront of this cultural merger that is occurring in the post internet postmodern world.
The lifeblood of Hip Hop, & by proxy American culture is the Hip Hop producer. That is who curates our sounds, our designs, our tastes & our aesthetics. What is Drake without OVO40? What is culture without Kanye West? What is the modern listening experience without Dr. Dre Beats, The Chronic or Doggy Style?
Slowed & Reverbed is basically a language for my generation and that was invented by a young producer named Slater, who matched anime aesthetics with the slowed sonics, heavy melodies & a reverberated bass boost to dictate a mood of melancholy we generationally felt. That’s what Hip Hop producers try to curate, the generational zeitgeist. Everything people will connect with presented as an experience, those are the things that last, things that become memories.
Dr. Dre was Hip Hops first Billionaire because as a Hip Hop producer he has consistently been at the forefront of culture. It’s part of the nature of the genre to be in tune with every art movement, the coolest clothes, the hottest songs, the newest designers, film directors or artists. Hip Hop producers are the oracle of postmodern pop culture. A Hip Hop producer's job is to study cultural trends in order to give the people exactly what they want. That's how you make The Chronic. Dre had the wisdom to work with Eazy E, Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Ice Cube, Eminem & Kendrick Lamar in the same lifetime. That man has the crystal ball, but he’s not the only Hip Hop producer that’s like that.
NWA is the greatest example of how dedicating time & effort into creating something beautiful & positive always pays dividends. Their dreams became a reality because they focused on them hard enough. They focused their energy into leading culture forward and venting through their art, which influenced every aspect of culture for decades to come from Eminem to Nirvana to South Park.
Dre was an audiophile, he went through generations of records in order to find distinct sounds to juxtapose them against his modern sensibilities. His choices in music videos & album aesthetics have consistently been miles ahead of anyone around him. Dre was tapped in to what the culture was feeling, to the point where certain Dre beats are more synonymous with American culture than the national anthem.
Pharrell Williams is also notorious for being ahead of various cultural trends, as well as Kanye West, The Alchemist, Madlib, J Dilla, Diddy, these people are at the forefront of what's going on by virtue of the genre & that’s what keeps Hip Hop alive.
DJ Screw, No I.D. A$AP YAMS, Max B, Knxwledge, Metro Boomin, Dame Dash, DJ Khaled, Tay Keith, Tyler The Creator, all of these people were at the forefront of culture because that is the nature of the culture. Certain producers dictate entire eras. What are the early 2010s without Zaytoven? What is 2016 without DJ Khaled & OVO40? What is music in the last 5 years without Pierre Bourne? What is Drill music without AXL Beats?
These people are leaders in aesthetics, taste & thought. They're at the forefront of culture & art.
Most of our modern high art & fashion sensibilities, aesthetic sensibilities & taste comes from Hip Hop producers. Hip Hop producers are the uncredited soil that's pushing this culture thing forward, globally. The genre requires you to constantly seek inspiration & intuitively feel what the vibe is at the moment. That’s how all of these producers, including non Hip Hop producers like Quincy Jones, have been able to stay at the forefront of culture for so long. It requires hitting all of the weird underground parties just to feel out the vibe of the moment. It requires actually being in the world, being around people, seeing what they’re talking about, what they care about, why they care about it, what are their problems, what are some solutions, how can I make something that connects with people, how can I make something that connects with me.
Underground trap producers released music on SoundCloud & built the company into the billion dollar behemoth it is today. Producers like Cashmoney AP pioneered Graphic designing Bart Simpson in streetwear aesthetics that led to the recent Balenciaga x Simpsons Collab. All of those things that kids do in their moms basements that seem like arbitrary frivolous things all end up influencing culture in more ways than we can even imagine.
The Neptunes, Nujabes, Timbaland, Soulja Boy, these are all producers that have dictated how culture has looked & sounded for the past few decades. The rappers get credit, & they should, but people don’t give producers enough credit. I have seen with my own eyes how Pharrell wearing Bape changed how my society looked. I have seen how Chief Keef changed how mainstream music sounded, I saw how he had Disneys own Miley Cyrus doing trap songs & every suburban kid wearing True Religion. I've seen Kanye change the cultural soundscape & make people wear shirts with holes in them.
The Hip Hop producer is the most undervalued commodity in American culture. It’s these incredibly musical kids who never had teachers who believed in them or got them in a music class, so they started scratching records to make the sounds they heard in their heads. That type of foundation breeds to a socially unconventional learning path of absorbing as you go, because you were never afforded the conventional path. So Hip Hop producers pull from films, they pull from culture, they pull drums from Congo & violins from Sweden to merge them & create this ethereal sound that becomes Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe by Kendrick Lamar & influences people for generations to come.
The fusion thought process that is required to be a Hip Hop producer is the way of the future. Merging unconventional concepts & juxtaposing things that might not necessarily go together in order to create something new & innovative. Hip Hop is all about combining the old with the new in order to create something truly innovative & cutting edge. Old soul samples, but sped up, over 808 drums & autotune. The Hip Hop producer has to simultaneously create & live within culture to maximize the potential of his craft.
Hip Hop is more than inspirational, it’s life changing. Hip Hop saved my life is a cliché quote, but I definitely don’t know what my life would have been had I not been introduced to Hip Hop. I live in a world where scratching your records isn’t blasphemous at all. I live in a world where even heads of state are Milly Rocking. Hip Hop has influenced everything, & the root of that influence is the producers. The unsung heroes of culture.
You can directly support Acid Rant at Patreon