If you've been around enough artists, especially rappers, you've probably heard this one before:
"I just record at the crib right now."
Ugh. I hate that statement. It usually comes with an embarrassed tone because people still have this fascination with signing a deal and recording in a multi-million dollar studio. The reality is, If you're smart enough to make intelligent purchases instead of going in debt for gear you don't need, extremely proud of yourself. You've made the conscious decision to work harder and invest in your craft, stick your chest out and talk your shit the next time you mention your home setup. If you struggle with that, consider a few reasons why tracking at home is such a better option for so many people
Inspiration is Random
You never know when the best musical idea of your life is going to pop in your head. We are entering an age of experimentation in hip-hop that wouldn't be financially feasible a few decades ago due to studio costs. Plugins are powerful and dirt cheap compared to hardware nowadays. In addition, very few artists have the luxury of a label or company paying for unlimited studio time that you can waste waiting for inspiration to hit. But an artist with the ability to record themselves can enjoy the same approach without breaking bank. My best work comes when I'm not chasing anything and time isn't an issue. I doubt I'm the only one in this boat.
Learning the Process
I recall introducing Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire to my home recording setup years ago. The excitement of no longer needing a studio ultimately lead him to acquiring his own setup. As he got comfier with Pro Tools, our conversations about writing and recording began to change. Suddenly he was referencing leveling, compression, EQ, delays and all of the wonderfully nerdy things you don't expect MCs to know. He began to write his verses with the knowledge of what could be done later in the DAW via effects/ processing. As such, it opened up a whole new chamber of his writing. It also made me all the more excited to mix for him, because we could speak more candidly about what a song needed. To this day there are things that eX can do in Pro Tools better than most engineers, and it pays off whenever he's working in a new studio. Too many mistakes and he can literally tell you to get out of the way so he can fix the issue from the engineer's chair himself. That kind of mastery will make you a better artist.
Your Roof, Your Sound
Considering the massive amount of choices available for gear nowadays, you don't have to break the bank on a decent recording setup. Once one is in place, you now have a plethora of free time to learn your specific setup, and its limits. Enough time with it and you'll develop a sound of your own that others don't have. Too many people chase Drake's sound without noting that 40 and Drake spent years learning their gear and their favorite ways to use it. THOSE hours developed the sound just as much as the equipment did. You may not be able to afford the same tools, but you can control the hours you can spend studying your gear if it's under your roof. Before you know it, people just might be chasing your sound.
Collaboration and Alternate Revenue
I learned to produce so I had beats to rap to, but it became a service I offered others once I got good. The same occurred with recording. My initial goal was to get good enough to track myself, but it quickly became an opportunity to build with others looking for a way to record. The more skills you have, the more you can benefit others and that's the key to today's industry. Being able to track people is a great way to make additional cash, or additional collaborative peers. If you're an independent artist, both are pretty crucial.
Hopefully by now you're looking at your home studio with a bit more pride. If you've been on the fence about investing, take your time and learn about your options before doing so. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, or if you're ready to take those home recordings to the next level via one of my mixes.
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.