The Making of "Anthem Redux"

◇ 3 min read

A few weeks back, I entered a MetaPop competition – specifically, the producer competition, Produce This #7. This was a fun way to get back into music, keep a timeline, and do something creative.

The rules were simple:

  • Download a sample pack.
  • Create a 16-bar track. (although I noticed not to many people adhered to this rule…)
  • Use at least two of the provided samples.
  • Genre restricted to hip-hop, R&B, or grime.

Naturally, I chose hip-hop. As of 2018-06-04, you can still download all of the samples here. In this post, I’ll only be covering the samples that I used in the track. Here’s the final result:

Let’s unpack how I got there….

Yes, I admit, I have used the the driving, thumping, motif in a previous song – surprise, surprise called Anthem – hence the name, Anthem Redux. Nevertheless, the provided samples provided some new life and inspiration. In addition, only having 16-bars forced me to find a way to convey all the energy in a limited amount of space & time. (Perhaps this is what creative limitation is all about?)

Primary Motif

The primary sample behind all of this is a snippet from “Ensemble OldWeaver”. The original, sounds like this:

Chopped up, re-tuned, and at a different tempo, courtesy of serato sample yields:

Combined with some stacked piano, we get:

Kicks

Next, I took one of the provided kicks, “Kick Coliseum”:

Again, re-tune + stack with other samples to get:

Bass

What’s a hip-hop without a little 808 bassline? Which at bar 12 gets embellished with a gritty-wide-mid-bass for stereo spread and better small speaker translation.

Snares

I used a provided snare “Snare Brutus” and provided snap “Snap GeorgiaSnapper” and reversed the snare + tuning + timing + spread to yield…

…which I augmented with some other samples from F9 Audio.

Guitars

The guitar lead is the “Bluesy Lead” patch from Omnisphere – with only small sonic enhancements + color. Spectrasonics makes some really nice toys!

You can also hear pulsating 16th-note distorted+muted guitars holding down the rhythm. I fell in love with this technique which you hear a lot in early-to-mid 2000s hip-hop records. I want to say it can be largely attributed to producer Mike Elizondo. You can hear this in a lot of 50 Cent and Eminem tracks that he did, but the one that I always seem to recall is “In da Club” from 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003) album.

Strings!

My favorite element of this track has to be the orchestral strings! These are from the Cinematic Studio Series. In retrospect, I feel they were mixed too quietly and too far back in the mix – should I get around to arranging a more complete version of this song, you can be sure that I’ll find a way to make these stand out a bit more.

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I hope you enjoyed the walkthrough. If you have any questions or comments feel free to drop a line below or you can also reach out to me here.