Hip-hop producers inspire with beats

By Shardae Smith

Red Bull Big Tune made a stop at Columbia’s campus on Nov. 16 to host a panel and music creation demonstration at Stage Two, in the 618 S. Michigan Ave. Building bringing producers who have worked with hip-hop artists such as 50 Cent and Kanye West.

A combined effort between the Entrepreneurship Club and the Arts, Entertainment and Media Management Department, the panel consisted of Red Bull Big Tune creators: music manager Jonathan Moore, producer Derrick “Vitamin D” Brown, and a guest appearance by hip-hop producer Jacob “Jake One” Dutton.

The Red Bull Big Tune is a national music producing battle and outreach program designed to showcase talents of up-and-coming producers.

This year, the program toured nine cities in which a winner and runner-up were chosen to battle in the finals held at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., on Nov. 18.

Moore said he and Brown speak to students at schools in every city the program visits on the tour because they are former teachers.

“Education is a part of our background,” Moore said. “We primarily visit youth centers doing workshops with the kids because a lot of the venues we host events at are for ages 21 and over. We want to make sure they can still be exposed to the culture, the music and have some impact by it.”

Before the panel discussion began, a video of the 2009 Atlanta finals was shown, and students were able the view the intense beat battles among amateur producers from across the country.

Brown said he and Moore chose to hold this year’s finals in Chicago because of the city’s rich musical background.

“Every time we’ve been [to Chicago], the energy of the people has been incredible,” Brown said. “And the talent here musically goes without saying.”

Devin Perine, president of Columbia’s Entrepreneurship Club, said the organization and the AEMM Department were interested in the event because aspiring producers could have a chance to see talent in the field and learn what actions to take to be successful in the industry.

“This [was] a great opportunity for [students] to gain more experience and to make these connections within the arts and music industries,” Perine said. “Musicians and producers, they’re entrepreneurs themselves, they’re their own business. They have to get their names out and promote themselves.”

Students asked the producers questions about which software programs were better to make beats with, such as Fruity Loops and Garage Band.

“It doesn’t matter what you use,” Brown said. “You can have a raggedy PC with only two buttons on it, as long as the play button works and the record button works,

you’re good.”

Brown suggested students invest in programs that offer student discounts, such as Logic Express 9, which can be purchased for $79 at Columbia’s Apple store.

Those who attended the event were able to meet the program’s 2007 finalist, producer Larry “Symbolic 1” Griffin, also known as “S1,” who produced Kanye West’s latest hit “Power.”

While working with rapper-turned-activist Che “Rhymefest” Smith on his latest album, Griffin said Smith purchased two beats and he gave Smith two more for free. Unknowingly to Griffin, Smith let West hear a few samples of his work, and West then chose Griffin to produce tracks on his latest album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”

Griffin answered questions the students had about the level of production it took to work with such an established artist and how important it is to build relationships.

He said working with West didn’t change his attitude, and he will work with an artist of any caliber.

Dutton stressed to the students although working with popular artists is a good thing, it’s not consistent.

“That’s the nature of the business,” he said. “You never know what path it’s going to take you on. You aren’t going to start at the top and if you do, most likely you’re going to fall straight down.”