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Props Mike Dean, Ken Lewis GRADUATION Other Modular Audio Processors
Old 9th September 2007
  #1
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PhonoquO's Avatar
 

Props Mike Dean, Ken Lewis GRADUATION

Just a short note to give you guys props for doing your thing on Kanye's album. This album has been in steady rotation for me, and i have nothing but appreciation for the mixing/production on these records. HipHop for me was at a crossroads this summer, but Kanye, Common and your expertise brought things back on point for me.

Much Thanks,

Mark
Old 9th September 2007
  #2
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yeah common's album puts things back in perspective for me too.

the kanye album i still don't like.
but yeah the engineering is f*cking awesome!
Old 9th September 2007
  #3
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Ken Lewis's Avatar
It Wasnt Me

I wish i could take credit for anything on the final version of the album, however, i'm pretty sure nothing i worked on made the final album. I'm very dissapointed, i believe Graduation will be a classic album.

I believe Mike Dean was the primary mixer on the album, and i'm betting that Andrew Dawson got some shine on some mixes as well. Andrew certainly played a key role as engineer and go to guy.

While i have mixed for Kanye many times in the past, most of what he calls on me for is musical contributions. Most often, sample recreations. When he cant clear something, or doesnt want to, he hires me to either exactly recreate the sample from scratch, or to exactly recreate the sonics of the sample, then flip it so its a new piece of music. You can hear me and my work on songs like "Family Business", "All Falls Down", "Gold Digger", "Last Call" (i wrote most of the music and sang "hears to the Roc, Here's to Rocafella" yep thats me.). I've also done a ton of recreations and work on artists he's produced, like Jay Z, Janet Jackson, Common, Jadakiss, etc... And i composed and performed an orchestral interlude for Kanye's 2005 Grammy performance, the orchestral part that tied together the end of Jesus Walks with the car crash and gospel song. And i most recently created original music for him for a film project he was working on.

Kudos to Kanye once again on making an album with real substance that once again raises the bar. big props to Mike Dean and Andrew Dawson who were 2 of the hero's of that effort. I believe (though i wont know til the album comes out) that all the samples Kanye had me recreate for the album, he ended up clearing anyway or those songs didnt make the final cut. thats the way it goes, i think i got shut out of this one.

-Ken Lewis
Old 9th September 2007
  #4
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PhonoquO's Avatar
 

Ken, I'm sorry to hear your work didn't make the album, but we can definately celebrate all your work and the contributions you've made to kanye and hip hop! Keep doing your thing man. I enjoy reading your posts here and your bits in scratch.

Mark
Old 9th September 2007
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Lewis View Post
...i think i got shut out of this one...
that's f*cked up.
sorry to hear.
Old 9th September 2007
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

is that the same mike dean from the geto boys albums back in the day?
Old 9th September 2007
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Lewis View Post
most of what he calls on me for is musical contributions. Most often, sample recreations. When he cant clear something, or doesnt want to, he hires me to either exactly recreate the sample from scratch, or to exactly recreate the sonics of the sample, then flip it so its a new piece of music. You can hear me and my work on songs like "Family Business", "All Falls Down", "Gold Digger", "Last Call" (i wrote most of the music and sang "hears to the Roc, Here's to Rocafella" yep thats me.).

-Ken Lewis
Did you do the acoustic guitar on all falls down? I love the way that sits in that track, big but lots of width.

You just got a new fan, co's a lot of my style is to try an recreate that 70's and 80's flavour without sampling. I ain't really trying to sample nothing but snippets of tracks the main body of stuff I'm playing myself ...although a the moment mostly midi.
Old 10th September 2007
  #8
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Ken Lewis's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by blayz2002 View Post
Did you do the acoustic guitar on all falls down? I love the way that sits in that track, big but lots of width.

You just got a new fan, co's a lot of my style is to try an recreate that 70's and 80's flavour without sampling. I ain't really trying to sample nothing but snippets of tracks the main body of stuff I'm playing myself ...although a the moment mostly midi.
yes, "All Falls Down", there are 2 nylon string acoustic parts, playing the same thing, panned left and right. i played them.

If you wanna hear a good example of a 70's flavor but not a sample, check out maybe the Lenny Kravitz "Storm" single that Just Blaze produced. I created alot of the original music to that, which sounds like a sample on purpose. Or Jin "Cold Outside", which i produced with Neo the Matrix (he did the drums, i did the music). Both created to feel like samples, neither is. The real downside to creating songs like that is it takes ALOT of time to do, and all you can do is hope they come out hot, but man when they do, they really do.
Old 10th September 2007
  #9
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KevWest's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Lewis View Post
I wish i could take credit for anything on the final version of the album, however, i'm pretty sure nothing i worked on made the final album. I'm very dissapointed, i believe Graduation will be a classic album.

I believe Mike Dean was the primary mixer on the album, and i'm betting that Andrew Dawson got some shine on some mixes as well. Andrew certainly played a key role as engineer and go to guy.

While i have mixed for Kanye many times in the past, most of what he calls on me for is musical contributions. Most often, sample recreations. When he cant clear something, or doesnt want to, he hires me to either exactly recreate the sample from scratch, or to exactly recreate the sonics of the sample, then flip it so its a new piece of music. You can hear me and my work on songs like "Family Business", "All Falls Down", "Gold Digger", "Last Call" (i wrote most of the music and sang "hears to the Roc, Here's to Rocafella" yep thats me.). I've also done a ton of recreations and work on artists he's produced, like Jay Z, Janet Jackson, Common, Jadakiss, etc... And i composed and performed an orchestral interlude for Kanye's 2005 Grammy performance, the orchestral part that tied together the end of Jesus Walks with the car crash and gospel song. And i most recently created original music for him for a film project he was working on.

Kudos to Kanye once again on making an album with real substance that once again raises the bar. big props to Mike Dean and Andrew Dawson who were 2 of the hero's of that effort. I believe (though i wont know til the album comes out) that all the samples Kanye had me recreate for the album, he ended up clearing anyway or those songs didnt make the final cut. thats the way it goes, i think i got shut out of this one.

-Ken Lewis
did you mix the original All Falls Down with the lauryn hill sample or the remake? i think who ever replayed it on the remake did an excellent job replaying the guitar line but i still feel the original one he recorded was a lot better
Old 10th September 2007
  #10
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Hey ken can you give us an insight into sample recreation (don't want to steal your secrets) but would be nice to hear some basic tips as I am working on a track with built around a sample of a herbie hancock tune. Bit reduction, vintage copms and eq's, adding distortion? I guess it's kinnda of tricky without good outboard....which I don't posess. Obviously a crucial element is the musicianship but just interested in how you manipulate the sound. cheers.
Old 10th September 2007
  #11
Gear Head
 

interesting

Yeah, this is interesting topic here.
Ken you should tell us a bit more man.
=)

Thanx
Old 10th September 2007
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Lewis View Post
yes, "All Falls Down", there are 2 nylon string acoustic parts, playing the same thing, panned left and right. i played them.

If you wanna hear a good example of a 70's flavor but not a sample, check out maybe the Lenny Kravitz "Storm" single that Just Blaze produced. I created alot of the original music to that, which sounds like a sample on purpose. Or Jin "Cold Outside", which i produced with Neo the Matrix (he did the drums, i did the music). Both created to feel like samples, neither is. The real downside to creating songs like that is it takes ALOT of time to do, and all you can do is hope they come out hot, but man when they do, they really do.
Cool...

So was the same guitar used for both parts or 2 different one's?

I checked out those 2 tunes and they are very well done...got that old skool vibe but with modern mix flavour. Definitely feeling the Kravitz track, I'll have to check that album.
Old 10th September 2007
  #13
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Ken Lewis's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by butterfly View Post
Hey ken can you give us an insight into sample recreation (don't want to steal your secrets) but would be nice to hear some basic tips as I am working on a track with built around a sample of a herbie hancock tune. Bit reduction, vintage copms and eq's, adding distortion? I guess it's kinnda of tricky without good outboard....which I don't posess. Obviously a crucial element is the musicianship but just interested in how you manipulate the sound. cheers.
Actually REMIX Magazine is doing a big story on this topic for their October issue. I am a heavy contributor to the article, along with the incredibly talented Ryan West, and others. Pick that up, it should help.

Also, maybe back in 2005, i wrote an article for Scratch Magazine where i talked about doing sample recreations for Kanye's College Dropout album. I cant find it on Google, but if you look maybe you can. Most of the article is online. Its from around June 2005. Not sure exactly the month.

I will tell you this. Sample recreation has no magic bullet. its different every time. it usually takes me about 40 to 80 hours to recreate a 4 bar sample. And thats not including the tens of hours my assistants put in as well. Its about using your ears, and staying focused.
-Ken
Old 10th September 2007
  #14
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Ken Lewis's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by blayz2002 View Post
Cool...

So was the same guitar used for both parts or 2 different one's?

I checked out those 2 tunes and they are very well done...got that old skool vibe but with modern mix flavour. Definitely feeling the Kravitz track, I'll have to check that album.
Same guitar on both parts on "All Falls Down".

That Lenny Kravitz "Storm" track is not on the album. It was the radio and video single, however it wasnt a remix, the Just Blaze produced version was the only version released to radio and video. I think Just Blaze made Lenny sound more like that oldschool Lenny than Lenny did
Old 10th September 2007
  #15
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Thanks ken......jeez....40-80hrs that's intensive! and you know what you're doing, so I'm thinking in my case make that 40-80 days. Will poke around on google and see what I can find....and will look out for the article when it comes out.

Best wishes.

ps. sorry to hear about the kanye thing . I remember reading an article with Craig Bauer in sound on sound where he says that kanye always has several guys on the same mix.....then he makes his choice, whilst presumably driving the mix engineers nuts with dozens of recalls.....and even then they don't get the gig. Must cost his record company a fortune!
Old 10th September 2007
  #16
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PhonoquO's Avatar
 

what i like about kanye's vocal tracking is that he's not doing doubles and all the other fancy tricks to get his message across. His approach is nice and personal; it feels like he is speaking to you or the crowd directly.
Old 10th September 2007
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhonoquO View Post
what i like about kanye's vocal tracking is that he's not doing doubles and all the other fancy tricks to get his message across. His approach is nice and personal; it feels like he is speaking to you or the crowd directly.
yeah doubles SUCK!
nobody used to do doubles back in the day.
2 pac is the worst, i don't think i'v ever heard a tupac song without doubles all the way. heh
Old 10th September 2007
  #18
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the worst!

get me a rope!!!!

u should die...

doubles are good ... if you aint got a voice ... but pac.. come on he's great.
Old 10th September 2007
  #19
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deuc647's Avatar
 

yeah i like the clean vocal sound, if i remember correctly nas did it in his last album, no doubles
Old 10th September 2007
  #20
I like doubles only to emphasize specific words, add libs or phrases, and I think that works well on most artist and think Nas could do with drooping a few, co's although he's got a great flow and and is a great lyricist I find his vocal production a little flat a lot of the time.

In regards to Pac, a lot of his tracks I could never listen to because of the doubles all the way through every song.
Old 11th September 2007
  #21
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PAC would be an exeption to what i said before. he invented the tight steady double. Nobody to this day has rocked mutliple passes to tape the way PAC did. In his case, it suited his flow, his soul and delivery.
Old 11th September 2007
  #22
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John Moran's Avatar
 

mike dean. yep.

we have some stories...
Old 11th September 2007
  #23
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PettyCash's Avatar
 

I think it depends on how the double is done.

I know when I spit doubles, you have to put some kind of a effect like a delay on it in order to hear it more distinctively from the Lead, because I can do it that accurately, and it never gets in the way of the Lead.

Now when it comes to doubles that are done way off from the lead to the point where it bothers you, thats a different story.
Old 11th September 2007
  #24
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electric's Avatar
 

hi ken,
thanks for continuing your great work on some of the best music out there (weather the mixes made it or not). also thanks for sharing with others on the forum.

excited to hear the album.

regards,
electric
Old 11th September 2007
  #25
Gear Maniac
 

on graduation album, how did they make the vocals sound so nice on the ears????
Old 11th September 2007
  #26
Gear Addict
 

Kanye's Album Sucked Ass
Old 11th September 2007
  #27
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frank lyon's Avatar
 

I love the album. I need to get the retail to check on one thing:


I'm curious about the following words peaking:

[Kanye West]
Like we always do at this time
I go for mine, I got to shine
Now throw your hands up in the sky
I g-go for mine, I got to shine
Now throw your hands up in the sky


Anybody else notice this? It could be the non-retail copies I have. Anywhoo, its quite clear that a lot of time went into this album. I'm also thrilled to have a few of the involved parties here contributing. Thanks guys.


Old 11th September 2007
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike dean View Post
...doubles are good ... if you aint got a voice...
i see, we agree!
Old 13th September 2007
  #29
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PettyCash's Avatar
 

In my opinion one of the nicest tracks on this album has to be the "Big Brother" track. The beat on that track is straight up the alley of the style I mess with myself. And the way he is spitting on the track is probably some of the best out of all the material he had on this whole album. Classic type of tune. thumbsup
Old 13th September 2007
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhonoquO View Post
PAC would be an exeption to what i said before. he invented the tight steady double. Nobody to this day has rocked mutliple passes to tape the way PAC did. In his case, it suited his flow, his soul and delivery.
And thats what recording is about, doing stuff for a reason, for a certain sound and effect...

Doubles now a days are often used to cover up weak Lead vocals, which is not what it should be used for. The lead has to be strong enough on its own for it to be a keeper for me, or I'd have it done over and over again until its perfect.

Pac sounded nice cause he was nice with it. He could do what ever he felt needed to be done on a track, and it would work. Why? Cause he goes for feel and not function. Real music is about feel, and you shouldnt do anything just because you think it needs to be done, but you should do what Rick Ruben does and just close your eyes and really take in the music and see if what you are doing actually works and belongs on the track.

Too much wanna-be muscians do things because they see other people doing it, instead of just working on feel, which is inspired by your past music influences and the music you grew up on.

Oh well what do I know anyway..... Let me go and earn some gold plaques and then come back and mouth off to ppl I feel I have earned the right to mouth off to.
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