The Art of Repetition: The Story of a Young Sage Named Hlats

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” — Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers)

If you haven’t read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, I highly recommend that you right that wrong as soon as you can, it’s a must read. Heck if you don’t like to read, listen to the audio book pronto! Anyway, I won’t get too carried away as I have an agenda for this post so in the words of the great Sizzla Kalonji, I will “Get to the point”.

I was having a chat with one of my workmates about the upcoming Shottaz releases, and somehow we ended up having an in-depth conversation about post-production. If you’re unfamiliar with post-production a quick google search will give you a bit of insight. After the conversation, I found myself going through our back catalog simply focusing on the production value of each song, and what struck me the most is how the quality of our finished product has changed over the years.

When we started making music in 2007 we were surrounded by producers that were learning their craft and the product reflects that, though at the time we thought our music was simply amazing. As the years progressed, I started getting my hands dirty by mixing our songs. I slowly honed my mixing skills over the years and at one point I was getting one on one mentoring from Tiopira of High Stakes Records fame. One random day Hlats decided that he wanted to handle all our post production. At first, the quality of his work wasn’t anything to write home about but he stuck to the task. From the release of our short mixtape “The Return” (2011), to “Stimulus” (2013), Hlats worked tirelessly at improving his skills improving his standard dramatically. He proved that if you put quality time into improving any skill,  you will reap the rewards. Nowadays he can turnaround a quality mix in a matter of hours without seeming to break a sweat. I have witnessed him masterfully mixing a song whilst having a lazy conversation, because he has a workflow that works.

On the other hand, I haven’t done much mixing since “The Return”. These days I bulk at the thought of mixing vocals, let alone touching an instrumental mix. Whenever I do find myself working on a mix, I find the process laboured and boring. Due to a lack of practice, I find myself having to spend several hours on a mix. That said, I have developed other skills over the years that may not be part of the creative process but no less important. I will no doubt discuss these in future posts.

The moral of this story? If you have any skill you aim to master, work hard at it!!!! Simple.


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