Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The BeatTips Manual by Amir “Sa’id” Said | Review

Full Disclosure: I’ve contributed to Amir “Sa’id” Said’s website, BeatTips. Admittedly, I only wrote one article (a Pete Rock album review), but it’s still worth mentioning. I may be “just a blogger”, but I’ve still got some journalistic integrity.

If rap was a game, Big L would be MVP. If rap was a university, The BeatTips Manual would be required reading. Scratch that. Amir “Sa’id” Said’s beatmaking opus has already earned that status at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for the university’s course on hip hop/rap music production. Rightfully so, The BeatTips Manual earns its stripes as a legitimate textbook, accessible to students at college and students of the game alike.

The BeatTips Manual begins with an all-encompassing look at the genesis of hip hop and the birth of beatmaking. From the offset, the author’s respect for hip hop as an artform is evident. As a sample-based producer, Sa’id fulfills his obligations to highlight hip hop’s influences, both culturally and musically. What’s especially unique about this guide is Sa’id’s introductions and explanations on topics concerning musical theory, written with a style that’s both technical and comprehensible, satisfying production vets and newcomers alike. Sa’id’s crash course on beat composition will serve as an invaluable compass for novices, but The BeatTips Manual provides a wealth of knowledge to beatmakers of all levels of experience.

Guiding the reader through the nitty gritty of both artistic and business angles of beatmaking, Sa’id offers tips and tricks of the trade, the best equipment to look for, and of course, valuable production techniques. His discussions with super producers like Marley Marl, DJ Premier and Buckwild, for instance, are particularly eye opening. Few interviews with these artists ever delve into the brass tacks of beat composition to this detail. Additional sections on shopping beats, sampling laws, and tips on maneuvering through the music industry are all essential reading for anybody who is serious about taking their hip hop hobby to new levels.

Detailed and thorough, I'd consider The BeatTips Manual to be the go-to guide for beatmaking. Highly recommended!