In this video, we produce a beat for an R&B singer like Kehlani. A beat influenced by classic songs from the late 90s, early 00s era & constructed with the sounds of the modern Trap dominated era.
I started this beat with the popular chord progression used in Destiny’s Child’s, “Say My Name”, produced by Dark Child (Rodney Jerkins); vi - IV - ii - V - ♯V. With this chord progression we’re instantly transported back to the late 90s, early 00s and thus it served as a great foundation in my goal.
Real Vs Fake (VST) Guitars
Guitar as the main melodic and harmonic instrument is popular choice in R&B. With more soulful R&B it’s definitely important to go the authentic route and record live guitars, be it acoustic or electric. However with more “mainstream R&B”, it’s argued that you can get away with Guitar VSTs, even if they don’t sound that real. Many R&B classics use Guitar VSTs. Nevertheless I think the Electric Sunburst sounds pretty good. It can sound pretty authentic when you take your time and use all it has to offer; articulations, patterns and anatomy.
Finally Electric Sunburst has a number of built in a effects which I’ve utilised here as part of the preset I used, with a few tweaks. I also ran it through some tape via U-he’s (Satin), giving the loop warmth and through a Phaser via Native Instruments’ Phasis, adding more character.
Sometimes one instrument isn’t enough so I like to add subtle elements in the background. As mentioned in the video, I often head to Splice and look for loops with melodies that I can filter, reverse and or slow down. This fills up some of the empty space but also adds a bit of interest. Other times I’ll add atmospheric samples, like the sound of the ocean or a forest for example.
Drum & Bass - “It’s All About Bounce”
For the drums I used a culmination of samples from Pvlace’s “Michelangelo Of Melodies” kit, WondaGurl’s sample pack and various samples and loops from Julez Jadon kits. Although Kehlani’s songs use modern samples like the ones just mentioned, they’re very much inspired by the drum patterns of old. Think Timbalands, Rodney Jerkins and Jermaine Dupree’s. I tried to capture that essence with my drums, particular in the kick placements. Bounce.
The element of bounce is further captured in the bass line I use. When producing this type of R&B I like to be all over the keyboard, jumping around octaves.
Where's the Full Track Dude?
Ok, so the plan was to lease this beat and all subsequent beats created on my channel going forward. However, since recording I've become less sure if that's a move I want to make.
Why? My main audience, the vast majority of my audience, are beat makers, not artist. And so, most of my viewers are uninterested in leasing beats from me. This is problematic due to the nature of leasing beats. Leasing non-exclusive beats, which is common practice, warrants beats be sold at a significantly lower price point. Now this is fine when you're selling at high volumes but with an audience full of beat makers, I doubt I'd be reaching such volumes.