Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Perils of Mixtaping

20 days.

That's the amount of time it would take if you pressed "Play" on my iTunes and listened to my collection of instrumental beats.

Ranging from Dr. Dre to unknown producers culled from MySpace, these are rap beats that we use for our mixtapes. Mixtapes, just in case you aren't familiar with the term, are raps that are written to pre-existing beats. These format is attractive to rap artists for three reasons: 1) If the original song was hit it makes it more accessible to the listener, 2) A good way to insult another rapper is to record a diss song over one of that rapper's own tracks and 3) It's cheap. Most producers, even unknown ones, can charge anywhere from $250 to $5000 a beat on average. The high profile ones like Dr. Dre can cost $100,000 a beat. But even at $250, if you're trying to put together a 10 track album, most of your budget can be eaten up before the first lyric is written.

However, the downside to mixtapes is you can't sell them legally. To make money from someone else's work by rapping over the producer's beat is the same as burning bootleg movies and selling them. DJ Drama was arrested last year for selling mixtapes. DJ Drama Arrested In Mixtape Raid

So we give them out for free as a promotional tool. It's a way to work on music in between albums and experiment with themes or rhyme schemes that I wouldn't put on a studio album.

So back to the 20 days.

What I have to do is listen to each beat, and then rate it in iTunes on a scale of 1-5. Some beats just jump out at me and I start writing a song right there. But most of them, I give them a rating and move on to the next one. That way when I'm looking at putting together a new mixtape, I just pull up all the beats rated 4 or 5 and give them another listen. Depending on the song topic or my mood, I pick out the ones to go on the new mixtape.

It sounds like a great system, and it is. But this is the second time I've had to do it. The first time, after about a year, I had half (10 days worth!) of songs rated.

Then my hard drive crashed.

Now I have an external hard drive JUST for iTunes. Lesson learned. But here I am starting again.

19 days 23 hours of music left . . .

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Back from the Dead

It's been a looong time since my last blog here. In between not having any Internet service and dealing with severe, I-don't-want-to-do-anything-but-sleep depression, this along with other Dead Rabbit ventures had fallen to the wayside.

But no longer!

We're currently recording our second studio album Father of the Year. Four years in the making, the new material is some of the best I've written. It's taken way longer than expected, but I think the album now is better than it was two years ago.

A big change that has happened is that I lost my job. And since California has one of the highest unemployment rate in the Union, it's been like ice skating uphill to find something else. So right now, I'm just living off unemployment and busting my ass in the studio to get this album done.

For those of you who were following my other two blogs, I am going to take those down and consolidate that info here.

You can also find updates to what's going on by checking me out at or and you can follow me on Twitter at