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Do beats make the song?

Photo by Stas Knop from Pexels

Photo by Stas Knop from Pexels


In 2019, rapper Freddie Gibbs reunited with DJ/Producer Madlib to release their second collaborative hip-hop record, which they titled “Bandana.”

The record was proof that the duo’s chemistry had reached a new creative peak, with Madlib’s beats and expert use of sampling combining nicely with Gibbs’ mastery of the mic.

Guest Features were sparse but effective with Pusha T delivering one of the most energized and poised verses of 2019 on “Palmolive,” and Anderson.

Paak stepping out of his comfort zone and rapping on the sweet-and-sour “Giannis.” There are a few other surprise guests but, these two songs are highlights for sure.

Long story short, this record was a favorite of mine from last year even despite its explicit language. Then on Jan. 2, the duo behind the record announced that an instrumental version of the album would be released by the end of the month.

I put it on my calendar and counted the days until its release.

I didn’t think that I’d be writing about this album because it was very low-key and it’s an instrumental edition. However, I think it does provide an interesting discussion point which is:

What is most important to a song and thereby an album?

The vocals of a track or the music behind them?

Obviously, both are important and imperative to the creative process of music but is one more vital than the other?

This is a tough question to answer through words alone, but I think if I had to answer this question, I’d say that the instrumentals are more important.

Let’s look at today’s variation on the genre of hip-hop, for example. A very popular song at the moment is Roddy Ricch’s “The Box,” which has become famous for its squeaky beat that can be heard here.

As you can see, the lyrics are mendable and can be reformed to fit the occasion and context (in this case a live performance on late-night television).

The beat, however, never changes, becoming the one constant of the track. And sure, you could be that person who is blessed to learn and memorize every line of a song, but odds are that you’ll certainly remember a good beat.

I’ll also take this moment to destroy my argument by pointing out “Thank you, next” by Ariana Grande. A song that I’m sure is remembered for its hook over anything else.

I guess the debate rages on. What do you think?

Trey Brown

News Editor