Kanye West – This is how he does it.

December 9, 2008


During the past eight years, the 26-year-old has racked up triumphs with such big-money movers as Jay-Z, Foxy Brown, Nas, Alicia Keys and Eminem. How does he do it? Not with any Digidesign Pro Tools or Emagic Logic rig, that’s for sure. “I don’t use a computer or a lot of equipment in my studio,” West declares.

“What do I need all that stuff for?”

West uses four primary pieces for sampling, sequencing and recording duties: An Ensoniq ASR-10 keyboard, an Akai MPC2000 MIDI Production Center, a Roland VS-1880 24-bit Digital Studio Workstation and a Gemini PT-1000 II turntable.

One of West’s trademarks, besides classic ’70s soul loops, is ample use of speed. Almost every other track on The College Dropout features a sped-up vocal sample, be it Dinah Washington on “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” or Chaka Khan on “Through the Wire.”

Kanye’s use the MPC sampler is inspiring.  For all the musicians who wrestle with PC’s his process is liverating to watch.

“I sample them at regular speed, then speed them up inside the ASR-10,” he explains. “I just put the pitch up on the sampler, and it will go faster. The ASR-10 is like my left hand. I can chop samples into 61 pieces without wasting any memory. A lot of old songs are too slow to rap on. So I got to speed them up to a rappable tempo.”

Crag Bauer had this to say about him. “Well, Kanye takes the word meticulous to a whole a new level. The way he works he just isn’t content until he’s tried recording and mixing a song every conceivable way. I was getting calls from A&Rs in July saying, “We have to stop him. We have to cut him off because he’s going to miss another release date.” And my response was always like, “Well you guys have to tell me what you want me to do.” And that call saying, “OK, you’re done, send it in,” would never come. Nobody from the record company tells Kanye anything. To the point where he was in mastering at Sony in New York and ended up booking studio time to do some more recording during the mastering process. In fact, story has it that during the mastering he was listening to the final version with Jay-Z and LA Reid from beginning to end. After they finished listening to the album, Jay-Z and LA Reid both were talking about how much they loved it and Kanye said, “It’s not even done.” And they both were like, “OK. Do what you’ve go to do.” So he kept on going and my belief is that he would have kept on going forever if it wasn’t for the fact that the timing of the release coincided with the MTV Video Music Awards.

Akai MPC1000

Production power, on the move. Inheriting all the essential features which make the MPC series so iconic, the MPC1000 is not only a perfect complement to its larger MPC siblings, but a powerful Music Production Center in its own right. The MPC1000 combines a 64 Track MIDI Sequencer and a 32 voice Stereo Digital Sampler, with 16 velocity…

Akai XR20

The AKAI XR20 BEAT PRODUCTION center. Superb controller, the power of MPC creativity for your own sequencer. The AKAI XR20 is a portable beat production center loaded with a sound set that is geared towards making hip hop and R&B beats wherever and whenever inspiration strikes. The XR 20 has over 700 pre-loaded sounds and an integrated effects engine.

Akai MPC5000

The Akai MPC5000 is the first MPC ever to include 8-track streaming hard disk recording, a 20-voice, 3-oscillator analog synthesizer with arpeggiator, a new sequencing engine with 960 ppq resolution, pad and track muting and mixing, 64 continuous sample tracks. In addition, the AKAI MPC5000 features a 64-voice drum/phrase sampler with 64MB memory Ð expandable up to 192MB.

Technics SL-1210MK2 (Single)

The Technics SL1210 Mk2 is the established DJ turntable, with solid build, high torque motor and stable tone arm. The legend itself, the SL-1210MK2, which is featured in the Science Museum in London as one of the pieces of technology that have shaped the World we live in. Overwhelmingly favoured by professional DJs the SL-1210MK2’s precision moulded diecast cabinet and…





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  9. When you are searching to make music and rap beats utilizing your PC there are a number of programs to create beats on the market that you can use to make hip hop beats and rap beats on-line. Whether you are a beginner or if you have been making rap beats and hip hop beats for several years, if you have either a Mac computer or a PC you can learn to make beats on your computer.

  10. The equipmemt or programs don’t matter.
    The talent the musical rhythm matters.
    you can have 1000’s of dollar on equipment but of you dont have the talent then you have nothing. the best equipment is talent

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  14. Kanye was 31 in 2008, just saying.

  15. The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn’t disappoint me just as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I actually believed you’d have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you can fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.

  16. Walken In Darkness, I made this beat by taking some parts of a recording, cutting it up, and looping it with studio software, no metronome or anything, it has its own tempo.

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  18. […] producers, like Kanye West for example, opt for hardware that offer tactile controls, while others prefer software user […]

  19. […] producers, like Kanye West for example, opt for hardware that offer tactile controls, while others prefer software user […]

  20. […] looks and feels sturdy. It comes with full sized encoders, and with just the use of a cable, music producers can plug in and play anytime. Going by reviews, a lot of people are pleased with the build and performance of […]

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