In the mid-to-late 2000s, the "End of the Weak (EODub)" open mic in NYC was my favorite proving grounds for up and coming talent along with local legends in the rap game. You quickly learned how to rap with your chest out knowing cats like C-Rayz Walz, Immortal Technique, Pumpkinhead, Homeboy Sandman, and Mr. MFN eXquire were up later. Riddled with respect and raw talent, it was the perfect room to get comfortable with rapping in front of others. But no one really tells you how to rap at an open mic right? Odds are, you'll make some stupid mistakes going in blind like I did, so I put together a roadmap for optimizing your next open mic opportunity
Remember when we first started hearing the term "mumble rap"? Initially it referred to rappers that had lyrics we couldn't easily understand. But lately it's an umbrella term used to often inaccurately describe a majority of the new artists. This "one size fits all" narrative has unfortunately ushered in a divide between some of the older participants in hiphop, and the youth trying to forge their path in the game. I personally think lumping everyone into this tag is dismissive, and ironically it reminds me of when my generation and peers got lumped into being strictly "backpack" rap fans, and underground MCs.
Peace all, Professor SentZ here. I'd like to Introduce the Lab Brief, a short segment in between episodes where we discuss quick, actionable tips and scene announcements that we think you'll enjoy. Today Professor SentZ discusses some ways to maximize your practice routines whether you're a DJ, performer, or play an instrument. We'll also discuss how to manage the expectations of other creatives in the crowd during your sets.
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Booking your first DJ gig is a huge accomplishment. You're leaving that bedroom setup and taking your mildly awkward Milly Rock skills to the public. In the excitement, there's a good chance that you'll forget some things, so I've compiled 8 questions to ask yourself before your debut that will give you a comfier first ride than a married couple that saved themsel.... never mind.
Do I have all of my required equipment?
It's essential to do a walk through of a space, or have a conversation with the venue about what equipment is available, so you can bring whatever they don't have. Some places have mixers, some don't. Some places have mixers that somehow predate disco. The point is, find out before you get there and write a checklist of the items that you need to pack, down to the cables and power strip. You should also use your walkthrough to scout general logistics like booth and speaker layout. If possible, ask if you can come in before operating hours a few days before the event to do an actual sound check, and make sure everything works. Take photos during the walkthrough too so you can reference the layout and booth setup. You can use these photos for promotion leading into the event too.
Any accomplished recording engineer will tell you the job requires wearing a lot of hats. Why does Pharrell choose to do the multiple hat thing? I have no idea. But recording engineers walk into a unique set of circumstances every day, with a goal of capturing someone's art and inspiration before it fades into oblivion. It's stressful, multifaceted, and often involves way more than just pressing buttons. If you're thinking about being a recording engineer as a profession, or if you're wondering how to start wowing more clients, put some consideration into improving these skills if you haven't already.