When I was 16 I recorded a ‘rap album’ with 11 tracks, a 15 dollar microphone and a program I still use today — Audacity. I made it mainly because I wanted to liven up the tedious routine of school and I rapped about very tame things (the class botany project; in-jokes with friends recorded for friends and Dance Dance Revolution, sampling South Park’s then-popular episode). I even tried to make a “real” song, of which I’ll spare you the details.
Among friends, from then on, I was of-course known by my rap alias, “Hateorade”, not necessarily by choice, but always in good-spirit. The 14-minute album-in-question, “Hate or Die”, did manage to get played in said science class and yes, when the first track, “With a Beat” came on, a few people started dancing (and laughing).
The memory of my friends’ and classmates’ reaction, in addition to the ‘recording process’ itself (i.e. “Name me some stuff and I’ll make a rap about it,” leading to the classic, “Pancaked”) are clearly why I made the project. The intentions were so pure and the results were so horrible, but everyone just kept going with it because it was honestly pretty funny – this was in 2006.
This is my ultimate take-away from making music: what you record in the present turns into something which helps understand who you were in the past (and thus, who you are today). I think when I revisited this, years later, this realization refueled my desire to record music.
Fast-forward to the end of 2010, throughout 2011 and into early 2012 and I began to reimagine my favorite moments in music as platforms on which my perspective could stand – this was done by looping portions of songs, then rapping over these loops. Those are heady statements, too, because the practical result was some uber-lo-fi, uber-quiet raps over weird-ass samples; amassing maybe a collective 1,000 views on YouTube (and over 17 tracks, that’s even less than you think it is).
It was early 2012 and I realized I had recorded about an album’s length of material, so I released it on DatPiff. I also realized, judging from said ‘album’, that I was a terrible rapper and it was ridiculous to think anyone should waste their time listening to such “armchair Hip Hop”. This, in itself, was enough for me to ask the question: “Could I do it any better if I actually tried?”
So I did try — really, really hard. That very summer I made up my mind I was going to make a rap album that was somewhat listenable. There was also a serious sense of urgency to the project because part of me was a bit sketched out by talks of doomsday and Mayan Apocalypse. I knew the world wouldn’t end, but I did wonder: “If it would, what would I want to say now?”
I was making music as if it was the last thing I was ever going to make. Once it was made, however, I realized that life was still continuing and, since I had at least tried to make something, my sense of urgency faded. Life kicked into full-gear and I was too busy balancing work and school to really find time for rapping.
During this time period, I used Laptop Rap 2 as personal motivation. Whenever I felt like everything was too much, I remembered that at the end of the day, I made Laptop Rap 2. It sounds so silly now, but it was quite an accomplishment (in my own head). Over time, however, inner(/net) criticism dissolved my halcyon daze and I was back to square one: “Could I make an album which would transcend internal criticism?”
I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that making Hip Hop music, in the 100%-DIY manner I choose to make it, is both therapeutic and a powerful tool for self-motivation. I’m telling you all this because I wanted those who know me in-person to understand my intentions and that no, I haven’t lost my mind. If you really respect me as a person, you will indulge my rap-fantasy and give my tunes a listen – you’ll be surprised.