On January 1, 2017,
UGHH will be shutting down
“I have some very sad news to share with all of our visitors and wanted to wait until after Christmas so you could all have a happy holiday. On approximately January 1, 2017, UndergroundHipHop.com (UGHH) will be shutting down permanently. We have been fighting our hardest to stay in business for the past few years, but with declining revenues it is impossible to stay in business at this point. Any orders placed will be fulfilled and we will stop taking orders as of tomorrow morning (Wednesday, December 28). When I opened our first online store in 1999, we experienced 60% growth year after year, for over a decade. However, in 2012 revenues plateaued and have been declining ever since. Our overhead is too great (rent, payroll, internet fees, bank loans, credit cards, etc.) and it makes business sense to not continue in what can only be described as an adventure of a lifetime.
I started UGHH out of my Northeastern University dorm room in 1997 as nothing more than a hobby to share the underground hip hop music I loved so much with the world. I had no idea it would lead into a 20 year career doing what I love to do – bringing this culture to the masses. I grew up listening to this music as a kid (I remember being 7 years old or so in the mid 1980’s, and a neighbor giving me a copy of LL Cool J’s – ‘Radio’ and The Fat Boys album dubbed on a cassette) and I was hooked. As a teenager, my music idols were Gang Starr and my favorite MC was Jeru The Damaja. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I would become friends with the artists I grew up on, but I am happy to say I actually became friends with Jeru so… my life is complete 🙂 If you want to read more about the 20 year journey of UGHH, go here
Running your own business is incredibly hard (and rewarding) work and I am very proud with what my team and I were able to achieve with this website. We had a retail store for ten years (another dream of mine come true), became close friends with many of the artists we are fans of (I went to Apathy’s wedding!), and helped so many labels and artists get the exposure they deserved. I could have worked a standard office job after college, but I followed my dreams and created a world renown, highly respected website loved by many.
There have been so many people who have contributed to helping make UGHH what it is today and there is no way I can list them all. I would like to give a special thank you to my staff who stuck it out with me to the very end – Jeremy (15+ years at UGHH), Aaron (10+ years at UGHH), Tommy (5+ years at UGHH), and Ian (he stopped working at UGHH 1.5 years ago after 10+ years on the job but has been my personal therapist since then). Thank you to the forum moderator Clokworx, who contributed his time to keep our forums running as smoothly as possible as well as all other mods. An extra special shout out to my wife and children, who were patient enough to put up with the ups and downs of the business and some very long work days.
There are many great websites to get your hip hop from, but some recommendations include: GetOnDown.com (for product and they should be expanding their catalog greatly in 2017), 2DopeBoyz.com (for videos) and HipHopDX.com (for news). There are so many great labels putting out quality product, but some suggestions are: Snowgoons, Ill Adrenaline, Mello Music Group, HiPNOTT Records, Rhymesayers, Fat Beats, HiPNOTT, and too many more to list.
I wish the best of luck to all of the artists, producers, record labels, distributors, etc. who make a living from hip hop music. You are doing this for something much deeper than a paycheck, and I respect you all for that. Thank you to all of our customers who have made purchases from us over the years. We have customers who have been dedicated to shopping with us for well over a decade, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for thinking of UGHH when you were thinking about hip hop. Until the next adventure…”
– Adam Walder
Sad, sad news as so many good and interesting times were spent on the forum. Not only did so many magazine staples come from there, including Sean Maru, Redsecta Mastering, SoundsforSamplers and BanginBeats etc….. a huge amount of subscribers came from that forum. And…and there were so many crazy threads on their forums. Some real wacky stuff used to go down. Unfortunately spending habits change with generations. UGHH will always be missed. A great many things passed in 2016.
Wishing you well in the coming year…
Words by Drew Spence
I‘m sure you’ve heard the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” Or that old(er) people become “Set in their ways“. We look at that- as a statement related to stubbornness and unwillingness to change or adapt. That rigid and dogged determination to remain the same is rooted in believing you have ‘mastered yourself’. And mastering means you have learned enough about yourself to tell others exactly how you operate. The problem is, I have never heard this sentiment used in a positive way. It usually refers to or outlines an imagined boundary and leads to excuses.
“I’m the kind of person that needs….”
“Knowing me, I probably won’t….”
“See, the way that I am…I can’t….”
“I really don’t do well, when…”
Instead of learning about where you need work, you’ve adopted a policy of avoiding anything that requires real work and effort.
“I tried that before and it didn’t work for me”
And so, instead if changing or improving the ‘me’, it’s easier to settle for living your life based off your natural talents and tendencies. You basically won’t do anything if it doesn’t come easily. Your definition of Mastering Yourself is actually learning to live within your limitations.
True Mastery is knowing how much work must be done on you before you can tackle a task. It’s realizing you may need to temporarily become a different type of person to achieve a particular goal.
A wise Kung-Fu Master once said:
‘Becoming a [Martial Arts] Master is not about being a master over others or an art. It’s becoming a master over yourself. You still have limitations, but you realize you can overcome them in the important moments you need to.”
It’s all about adapting and adopting…and adding new traits. How can you arrive someplace new by following the path you’ve been down before?
Resolutions and Re-Solutions
So why is this on the Producer’s Edge Blog and not The Dynamic Universe or even Rapper’s Delite? Because, as producers and artists, we tend to create a body of work and then use the overall assessment to assign limitations. They can sometimes be hidden by starters like “I work best when…” or “I’m in my zone if…”. That opening is usually followed by a narrow parameter which, in truth, is another limitation. Have you ever heard someone claim they have a dating type? This person is ‘my type’. And they know this by having several failed relationships with that ‘type of person’. That’s not their type, that’s simply who they keep choosing to date- regardless of the success rate or outcome. Your type is found in the relationship that works, not in the many that don’t. And that relationship works or fails by what you become while you are in it, not simply what passed easily between the two of you. That is our producer’s Edge – that understanding and choice of achieving something beyond the expected. The push to be more and find that limitation and then move the bar higher.
Learn yourself to learn what more you need to learn
I close with thoughts on resolutions. They seem to always be external.
I want this to be better…I want more…I want a new…
Imagine if all that change was focused on improvement… if we were focused on attitude instead of altitude.
a BETTER state of mind.
MORE willingness to grow and acquire new skills and habits.
a NEW way of looking at ourselves
Let’s choose to be where we want and achieve what we want by Wanting to improve where we place focus and even what we choose to focus on.
Have a productive 2015.
-Drew Spence, Producer’s Edge Magazine
Earwaxx Sessions week 14 Channel Zero and Horror Fam
words by Drew Spence
The energizer showcase keeps showing and we like who shows up
In a previous post [Located here] I went in to detail about why it is important to put rappers over your music- more important than trying to sell a beat to someone you don’t know for chump change. Working on a career starts with working in the field you have an interest in. It’s an old saying (maybe not that old since I stole it from Griffin Avid) that
“Whatever you want to do for money, you will first do for free.”
It’s a simple truth that you cannot claim to do something, and even be good at something you have never done. But that’s what we, as hobbyists, do too often. We say we are producers– yet we haven’t produced anything or anyone. Moving on from semantics and word-definitions we touch the reality of your resume.
Presume to resume from you resume
You can create a nice logo or banner for your website. You can write a nice bio that tells the world how great you are. What counts is what you can do. What you can do is backed up by what you have done. What you have done is what ends up on your resume. Yes, before you get a career, you get the job. Before you get the job, you’ve shown an ability to do the job. That’s your portfolio. That’s your catalog. That’s the show your work part of the answer.
The Waxx Museum to see them
Last night was week 14 of the ongoing showcase Earwaxx Sessions. [Read the opening blog post here]. The line up included a hard-rocking metal band called Go Deep and the rap collective Horror Fam as Channel Zero and Swerve Boyz. Horror Fam is a deep roster of artists that center in Amityville New York. I came across them a few years ago by their manager and mentor Bone. They have dropped numerous mixtapes, videos and pretty much rock out as an army.
The forming up formula
They also figured it out. – How to crowd the stage with friends and fam, but make it work by everyone knowing the songs and performing as one mass. That energy translates to the crowd and they put on an awesome show. The Earwaxx Sessions continues to be a party that we are all invited to. More than that, they have become a community conscious organization that puts on food drives for the holidays. They have been featured in the paper (Long Island’s Newsday) and the their sponsor list continues to grow week by week. Connect and get involved here.
Connecting the Dots….
So how does this all relate? After their show, while they were making their way through the crowd. One of the artists said ~ You know we did some of them songs at your studio right? Yeah, I was reminded that I have done something– that I am connected to a large body of artists that are putting in work. It’s really all the stuff I’ve done before that makes the doings of tomorrow easier. That why I say Pursue a place and be patient for a paycheck. No one wants to pay for potential or possibilities. The current state of the industry is Risk Management. No development, no investing, no betting or hoping that someone pans out. You need to think the same way and start your journey today. Get involved with your local talent and be a part of what’s happening. For Long Islanders, Earwaxx Sessions is a perfect launch point and networking system. Find your resource and become a resource.
You can catch the vid bits on the Earwaxx Instagram
and some clips @ the DynamicaMusic instgram page
SUPPORT LOCAL, GO GLOBAL
Krudmart Grand Re-Opening with Craig G and Buckshot
Producer’s Edge digital was invited to the Krudmart (@Krudmart) Grand Re-Opening hosted by Buckshot (@Buckshot) with special guest star Craig G (@MC_Craig_G). The Krudmart event took place in the Setauket location in Long Island NY. Craig G, the golden age rap master, with classic records like “Droppin’ Science” and “The Symphony” was there to meet and greet and explain why he’s in full support of an independent footwear movement. Buckshot broke the line down and explained why we need more options for gear-wear and how important expressing your own individuality can be.
Big Earth, a store owner and independent retailer has made the boutique experience affordable and accessible with a cultural center that doubles as a sneaker store. DJ Cut Supreme (@cutsupreme) was on hand and handy behind the decks keeping the Boom Bap on tap. He was joined later by Craig G’s tour DJ, Callie Ban, who utilized his style of blending the classics with the original records that were sampled.
Big Earth stepped up his hosting game by getting free pizza and drinks and after sundown we went a block down to the Country Bar (ignore the name for now) to see Buckshot and Craig G perform some of their biggest hits. You can imagine what happened when “Who Got Da Props” came on. Craig G went in and covered every inch of the bar with his energetic set and even went freestyle, rhyming about the people at the bar. All in all, it was a solid event and I have Krudmart bookmarked as a place to up your style at. You should bookmark them too. http://krudmart.com/
EarWaxx Sessions Week 4 recap
Going…going…STRONG! And a legend surprises all.
words by Drew Spence
I would never say that I hate on something, but I am a skeptic. I mean, when news about the EarWaxxSessions first hit my Editor’s desk I said “Every damn week?! These kids crazy. It’s Long Island; you can’t get kids offa that couch and outta that house EVERY week. Nah, son, they need to do this joint monthly.” I was wrong and I can admit it.
Crowd still strong? Yes.
Still enthusiastic? Yes.
Still well-organized and starting on time? Yes.
Tight Acts? Yessir
So, now that I see this engine has got no quits in it, let’s recap, rewind and reflect on week 4 for Long Island’s freshest artist/producer/talent showcase. The night opens with hosts @ChadLaw & @Rah_licious welcoming the crowd at exactly 10pm. [Yep, they be starting on time] After a few barbs and well-deserved attention to the lovely Rah_licious, ChadLaw brought out Fallout Shelter for the opening producer showcase part. Conflict of interest aside (ahem), it was a live hybrid-set of beats, bumpers and skits. The energy of rap arrived right after as Keez, YRA, CASTLE HEAD and the crowd that is Frank Buick by himself, tore up the stage. Shaun Sutton got the ladies going with some sultry R&B. A.T.E BOYZ and AMA rounded things off before a surprise appearance by rap veteran and Juice Crew member Craig-G dropped his science for a new generation that’s more trappy than backpacky. It was an angry old man showing showmanship and why you still want a few veterans active in every war. Now that they’ve added guest appearances to the mix, there’s no telling what you’ll get next week.
Why should you care?
Every artist and entertainer needs a place to show out and the EarWaxxSessions is providing a dope atmosphere by having a dope crowd assemble to enjoy and support good music. If you was thinking of doing it, get it together and do it there. Finally, we have a growing spot that combines generations, genres and future greats. Make Tuesday more than the day that follows Monday. They have.
Born-on-date a little early? Don’t know as much about hip hop as you should? Read into the history and career of rap veteran Craig G. There’s a lot more than the legendary verse on Marley Marl’s posse cut “The Symphony” and his own rap classic “Dropping Science”. Oh and if you are a fan of those battle rap leagues, this guy was doing it when it was raw.
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Forum hound Griffin Avid chimes in over at FutureProducers and drops a gem or two…
A poster named Benjah had this thought and question…
Setting Goals as a producer.
So my summer has started and I am trying to Create a goal and a Plan for improving my production skills.
My only problem is the goal is extremely fuzzy. ” Considerably improve production skills.”
All research suggests that goals are best set as Specific Measurable, Attractive, Realistic and Time-Framed statements.
So how do i go about Making a Goal like this for production? What do you guys do? What is your goal setting process like? And while your here you can also give me some general suggestions on the process of improvement.
What is your goal setting process like?
So how do i go about Making a Goal like this for production?
I say if your goal involves becoming a better producer, you need to do some producing.
Make your end goal to produce a real record by summer’s end.
If that’s the finish line; to release a project, then you can work backwards, step by step figuring out what you need to do and be doing week by week, day by day.
I don’t know too many people who just keep getting better and better (forever).
I know early on, it’s technical concerns…how do I…what fixes….what’s the best…
But after that, it’s all what you choose to do….
and I don’t think you make better choices without EXPERIENCE.
What I see are artists who always like their newest stuff more so they think they are improving-
when really they are just staying in the same place, which is slightly behind the curve.
When strings were poppin, they made 100 beats with strings….
When 808s were what’s up, they made 100 beats with 808s…..
When trap beats are….you get the idea…that guy will always be following the current trend trying to be relevant and always remaking his catalog.
That is also close to eras, like when you kept making the same kind of beats….and then you switch up. It’s possible that people could like a certain style of tracks more, but you don’t really find that out till you get out there and show some consistency.
What do you guys do?
First, pick your lane/direction. Understand that your goal is to be the best (you can be) in that direction.
I say you get past the technical concerns.
Can you make music? You got that part down yet?
Next, grab some acapellas and make some remixes.
Mostly, it’s about working with vocals. If that’s what’s at the end, why spend all your time playing around with loose beats and unfinished instrumentals?
Make some songs with other rapper’s vocals. That is the process.
You’ll learn to work harder and construct bridges, hooks, intros, outros, variations and you have the original track as a bar to rise to.
Not only can you share that music as a primer for what’s to come, you can use that feedback (FROM A LOT OF [regular = not other producers] PEOPLE) to figure out your weak/strong areas.
Real data on what works and what doesn’t.
Your music needs to improve to the point where NO ONE has technical concerns and feedback is only like or dislike or they like one track better than another.
When people want copies of your music to listen to and rappers want to rhyme and make songs with them…
makes it pretty easy to figure out how close you are. People should like and want to listen to your remixes. Someone should suggest you send it to the artist.
Comments like that are your gauge. If everyone just says “That’s nice” or “That’s cool” you’re not done yet.
What is your goal setting process like?
I write a list and have documents called planners. Planners are outlines for projects [title, song names, artists, business ideas even a tally of money spent]
There is also a list I have with things to do. It’s on one sheet of paper and as I do something I cross it off. When I get everything done that can be done in a day, I can relax fully.
There are so many things to do, you can’t possibly carry them around in your head, you’ll need to write them down. One column might be small stuff and another might be far off stuff that needs prep time.
And while your here you can also give me some general suggestions on the process of improvement.
Honestly, the simplest one is to decide who your target audience is and expose yourself for feedback.
There’s no point to using your imagination. “Boy when they hear this…”
“This is something they ought to like” “I wonder if…”
I’ve already typed too much but there is a balance between pleasing yourself and pleasing others.
You can do both, but if you (mentally) can’t; then you should pick one and accept your decision (and its consequences and/or benefits) and keep it moving.
– Griffin Avid 2013
Look and Listen! More lunacy with Loops
We have two articles on this subject already, but new questions about using royalty-free samples in the production system have come about. And so, how many samples may you sample before your song is no longer a song, but instead a series of samples? And more importantly, why does any of this matter?
Well this whole idea is personal and totally subjective. There is a reason each individual makes their own bar for considering when their art is their own.
I don’t walk down the purist path because there is always someone more PURE than you. And if you believe more pure is better than objectively, factually someone will ALWAYS be better than you. Even if their output is horrible by your own standards. It’s putting the Process before the Product.
For drums….we can create a line of thought that gets ridiculous but makes logical sense.
Guy A uses a step sequencer loaded with samples to make his drum pattern.
Guy B says A is not as good because he uses drum pads and really finger drums.
Guy C says B is not as good because his electronic drum set is more real playing than cheating with pads.
Guy D says C is not as good because he plays a real acoustic drum set.
Guy E says D is not as good because he samples real world noises and natural sounds and is more original than using something as limited and boring as a drum set.
Guy A loads D’s samples and creates a drum pattern…and somehow he’s the fake-est for doing so.
Think of all the reasons for NOT using construction kits/samples/presets/templates etc……
1. Someday someone might use the same sound.
2. Someday someone might recreate my song on youtube and make it look easy.
3. Someday someone might sampleID one of my tracks
4. Someday someone might have a beat/track/song that sounds like mine.
And now deal with the reality that ALL of these are based on FEAR.
Afraid of how someone who is meaningless to you will think about you and your art.
This is a self-esteem issue when you only have imaginary confidence -based on what you think *might* happen in the future over your music.
As opposed to dealing with the reality of whether or not it’s WORKING FOR YOU.
Make music for money, hope it makes you rich.
Make music for fun, hope you’re having fun doing so.
Make music for no other reason than you are driven to do so, then I hope enough of the two previous reasons happen to sustain your desires.
This (PURITY) is IMPORTANT as an INDIVIDUAL CHOICE is- it may well decide how far and how seriously you take your music.
If you INVEST yourself heavily (Money, Emotion, Time, and Effort) in your music, you are more likely to take your ambition to an end result.
Not saying the end will make you rich, famous, popular but it’s harder to walk away from something you care about.
And if your music is YOU, then you will care enough to do something with it.
Anyone can noodle, move some sounds around…press some buttons, slap some keys…
Mixdown, limiter, upload and post on a profile/forum.
Anyone can tear down that process. Criticize, belittle, analyze it…
What they can’t discredit is the effect and impact your music has on others.
That’s the part that isn’t subjective and determined by a peers opinion.
If you can accept that idea then you will realize the importance of picking a creative workflow and ethic that TOUCHES YOU FIRST so that you are inspired, no – DRIVEN to give your music a chance to touch others.
Griffin Avid is a Media Editor for Producer’s Edge Digital Magazine.
Production related videos http://www.Youtube.com/GriffinAvid
Previous articles dealing with using loops and samples in your music.