Most of the criticism I hear about modern rap is that it is made with little to no effort, each song lasts about 2 minutes 30 seconds, and the focus is no longer on lyrics. It is said that all this takes away from the quality and value of rap music made today.
I personally have heard my music suffer simply from taking too long to create, the process becoming more of a chore. So I decided to challenge myself to take as little time as possible to write a project. I was sent a pack of eight beats from a young producer by the name of FR.Ovi. I genuinely enjoyed every instrumental and felt inspired, so I asked him if he would be interested in making a mixtape together. After his approval, I got to work immediately.
I sat with the first beat for about 5 minutes before taking a freestyle/punch-in approach to the song. I didn’t write the lyrics down but I “punched-in” every couple bars or so. I would rap a bar or two, stop and think of what to say next, then punch back in where I stopped. I did this until I had two complete verses. I had already determined where the hook was going to be, so I went back and recorded that without much thought. “Separation is natural, it’s ok to part ways,” naturally flowed out, it has been a strong theme in my life lately. I named the track “S.I.N.,” short for “Separation is Natural.” Alright, I had one song down, and in time for bed.
The rest didn’t come quite as naturally but since I was enjoying the process already, I wasted no time digging in. Every day after work was the same routine. Eat a quick dinner and lock myself in my home studio for the night. I would listen to the beat on repeat and quickly jot down rhymes and then tie them together thematically. This is my usual approach but I streamlined it for this process. No second thoughts, just create. Over the next three weeks, I was able to piece together eight complete tracks. Some have one verse; some have two, along with bridges and hooks. One song is comprised completely of vocals, some are purely rap.
I’ve had to find a balance for the creativity it takes to create a good song—and good music in general. I figured out my flow more or less when it comes to songwriting. I also produce instrumentals, so I am aware of the time and effort it takes to compose. No producer wants to send a beat out and get low effort drawl in return. Everyone has different tastes and I had to get comfortable with that idea. I find focusing on only technical aspects of creating music takes away from creative process and overall will make it less fun. This lack of enthusiasm can be heard and could be detrimental to the final product. You have to find enjoyment in the process.
By challenging myself, I tried to show versatility and skill as well as growth. Overall, I wanted people to hear that I truly enjoyed writing and recording this project and I want them to have fun listening, too.
The finished product, VHS, is set for release this summer.
Howard Thompson III (Word the Third Eye/ Fat Harold) is a hip hop lyricist, producer and engineer born and raised in Albany. Aiming to make ignorant music for intelligent people.