By Byaruhanga Felix (@TheNinjaFelix)
One of the objectives we had to fulfill when we shifted to “.com” was to have “Pan-African” content. These are interviews/articles that cut across the African music industry or articles that focus on the Ugandan industry that translate well to the African music audience and an example of that is the Brian Soko (grammy award winning producer) interview we had last year. This blogpost is one of them and the goal of this is to get a larger audience to pay more attention to UG hip-hop.
Recently Metro FM one of the largest commercial radio stations in S.A held down its awards ceremony. This year they indroduced an African category to celebrate African music excellence which to say was a “Nigerian category”, all the nominees were Nigerian but that’s not why we’re here. So at those awards a producer known as “Beats by Tweezy” contributed to 5 wins of that night in terms of producing. A quick background he’s the guy behind most of the dope S.A hip-hop albums out like AKA’s Levels. He had to buy a ticket to attend the awards show.So he goes on to start a campaign/hashtag #ProducersMustRise, where he’s addressing what producers face in terms of being not recognized & getting credit they deserve. The hashtag went on to trend with a lot of other music stakeholders & producers joining the campaign.
So I had to reflect what’s going on the African hip-hop scene and specifically here in Uganda. I reached out to a few producers who have been putting in work and I asked them two questions. What do they think about the whole thing of producers not being recognized and back here in UG are producers fully given the credit they deserve? You can read their answers below and please do tweet us your thoughts @TheTribe_UG.
Josh SB (@JoshSBSessions): In this current generation, a producer is an artist himself by just staying behind the desk and using his hands to speak/talk/sing. Producers should just brand themselves in order to get the recognition they are looking for because unlike other genres, I think hip-hop globally has tried to push n promote producers. We are the only genre that mentions a producer’s name in the song (with exception of those rare cases). We should be thankful already because other genres like soul and EDM don’t even hint on who the producer is. Beyond that one should have realistic expectations. There is a reason why your job as a producer is regarded as “Behind the Scenes”. It’s because part of your job is to sacrifice your skill to make an artist shine. The best producers are the ones who get the artist and sacrifice their sound to this artist so that he/she can break through using this sound the producer has created. We have seen this several times happening; Swizz=DMX, Just Blaze=Jay Z, Babyface=Toni Braxton, Timbaland=Aaliyah, Stargate=Neyo, Mike Will=Rae Sremmud, JR=Sean Kingston, Quincy Jones=MJ etc
Sorry for the old school examples but you notice that most artists ride on the producer’s sound to get that edge that can CUT IT in the game. The consistency of doing that and having this artist push your name out there each time he/she makes a public appearance both through his airplay and in person is what promotes the producer.
Cause you can’t blame the audience for getting overwhelmed by the artist whose voice they keep listening to each time the song plays cause you the producer you were “verbally” quiet hence not noticed.
But a producer who brands himself and treats himself first as an artist in his craft is one who can start getting the recognition they deserve. That’s why these days thanks to YouTube we get to see some producers make the beat of popular song on video just to show the world that they are the ARTIST behind the silent desks where the music is made. I personally feel like that’s our playground as producers and if we are to promote ourselves then that’s a good place to start. Show people the ARTIST in you as a producer both behind the desk and also outside on social platforms. You brand yourself.
Swizz, Scott Storch, Rodney Jerkins, The Business, JR etc all became BIG even without ever spitting a verse or shouting more than 3 sentences in a song. They mostly branded themselves to start being recognized. They literally made “production” look so cool that people started treating them like artists. Swizz spit his first album after 10 years of being a well branded producer.
Here in UG I think every good producer has really been recognized by the hip-hop industry, cause the industry is so small so one way or the other people get to know you produced this song & that song especially if it’s an artist they know. Though I must say the talented ones are yet to be heard. They just getting warmed up. It still goes back to branding yourself as a producer. Most guys meet me & think am responsible for a lot of tracks in the game yet I have only produced 4 popular hip-hop tracks on radio in my whole career. It’s just the noise CODE & Benezeri made about those 4 tracks that made it look like I have done a lot. Other tracks I have produced have remained in the background. The other thing is that for me it’s not about HOW MANY dope songs you have produced. It’s about THAT ONE SONG and the impact it creates on the game as a whole. That’s what makes people ask WHO IS THE PRODUCER? That’s an aspect most producers never look at while pushing their careers.
Baru (@IamBaruBeatz): Producers and beat makers sure do put in a lot of work when it comes to putting together music especially in hip-hop as genre where most of the artists out here work with beat concepts which are usually the producers ideas. That accounts for like 50% of the whole song concept. So when its comes to crediting producers should always be credited because they deserve the credit. For the producers that don’t get credited, I put it on the artists they work with who maybe don’t make an effort to see that they are credited. I think its high time all music consumers and stakeholders realized how much work that goes into making music is the producers effort.
Back here in UG Stuff has eased up over time producers are a little recognized for there work and contributions to making music artist have made an effort. But our industry here in Uganda is still under developed for the loyalties system to work so producers are not benefiting enough from the work put in in making the music. Artists benefit more from the music hope things will change in due course. Another thing I haven’t wrapped my head around is the awarding system and if the award shows that exist are fully developed. I think more producer categories should be added to enable favorable competition. But bottom line credit should given where its due.
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Mark (@TribalUG): People such as artists as well as others in big positions who interact with producers need to understand that without them they won’t have anything to sell to the public. That’s a fact. Credit needs to be given where it’s due. Whether it’s in terms of money or simply shout outs on TV radio interviews.
In UG producers are actually appreciated and in my opinion taken as serious celebrities. Look at the likes of Washington and Nash wonder. Most times new artists that work with those guys only get airplay when their names are shouted out on the track. But on the other-hand the larger minority of producers especially those that do different genres or are new to the game aren’t really appreciated much. Most are under looked and under paid and not really appreciated even by artists themselves. I think it comes down to the mentality that some artists have of producers as people offering a service and therefore should bow down to whatever idea the artist has. In terms of corporates and big business guys they look at producers the same way. ” why should we pay this guy this much for just making a track, or why should we give him credit since we r the ones pushing the song” it’s worse if the producer is young and doesn’t have a big name for him/herself.
The Soultan (@Simon_Elly): First of all producers have to be given some special recognition too , just like the artists . They take part in crafting all the music that the people enjoy but at the end of the day the artists take all the praise. For the awards to have a single category for producers is still not fair. There are many genres of music, that means there are many producers that are responsible for crafting music to feed those genres. Some are multi genre others aren’t. But when it comes to award categories, they usually select from categories that dominate the air waves. That leaves a lot of talented producers not recognized The other issue is, some beat makers are called producers which is misleading.
Now bringing it back home here, in UG. There are many beat makers/ producers that have put in work but have failed to get the recognition they actually deserve. I’ll not give names, you know them. The first recognition should come from the artists, then the rest will follow. However certain artists will only work with a producer who has worked with a bigger artist, has hit songs on radio or is willing to work for peanuts Or “free-thousand” shillings. The media also some times fails to look beyond the music, they have failed to dissect the music and understand who does what and how important are they?
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