Removing your ego from the equation and working for the music rather than yourself will always yield the most natural, musical results.
When I first heard the music of producer Clams Casino, I was struck by the beautiful, otherworldly, melancholy atmosphere as well as the strange use of distortion and almost low-fidelity aesthetic. But I had a couple of problems with it:
1) Soulja Boy
2) Lil’ B
Yes, though the juxtaposition of the music with rappers famous for sub-mediocrity is briefly interesting and mildly entertaining, I find it ultimately insulting to Clams Casino’s talent. There is more focused artistic vision and emotion in one Clams Casino beat than in the entire Soulja Boy and Lil’ B catalogs, yet the most well-known Clams Casino beat laid the foundation for freestyles by both rappers, “2 Milli” and “I’m God”, respectively.
Why do his beats so often find homes of artistic squalor? I’ve yet to find an answer to that question, but wanted to present an alternative for the legion of Clams Casino fans asking it.
I picked three instrumentals that most appealed to my own artistic sensibilities, “All I Need” (Soulja Boy) and “Numb” (previously unreleased), both found on Instrumentals, and “Wassup” (A$AP Rocky), found on Instrumentals 2. In keeping with the “freestyle” spirit of the rappers using the beats, I worked with the melodies I first sang and built the lyrics out of the first fragments that popped into my head. This was an enjoyable way to create, revising almost nothing, and building all vocal harmonies on the spot as I recorded. My ultimate goal was to create an atmosphere vocally and lyrically that actually married naturally to that of the music. That, to me, is an inherent quality and goal in good artistry, but unfortunately fewer and fewer artists seem to understand the language of music itself, ending up with lyrics conveying a different set of emotions than those conveyed in the music. The many vocal/melodic samples with which Clams Casino paints are chock full of cues for the vocalist/lyricist to create an organic expansion within the music’s architecture rather than sloppily toss an unrelated mess at its peak. Ironically, these creative catalysts are all but ignored in popular Clams Casino-related releases.
In the instrumental for A$AP Rocky’s “Wassup”, we quite clearly hear the word “under” and the phrase “you fly” within chopped vocal samples. Rather than writing in a stream of rap cliches and referring to women as “bitches” and “broads” like A$AP Rocky (i.e. sloppily tossing an unrelated mess at the musical architecture), I opted to construct the hook and title “Under The Same Stars” from the “under” sample and construct the melody and line “you fly with me in my dreams” from the “you fly” sample (i.e. creating an organic expansion within the music’s architecture). Similarly, I took the cue from Clams Casino’s titling of “Numb” (A$AP Rocky’s talk of codeine would have worked here, right?), in addition of course to what the music itself expressed, and went with it, barely changing to title to “I’m Numb”. These are obviously very simple things, the point being that removing your ego from the equation and working for the music rather than yourself will always yield the most natural, musical results.
Now without further ado, please enjoy the music…