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 the post-production process. If you’re unfamiliar with post-production a quick google search will give you a bit of insight, but I digress. After this intriguing 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 all starting out and the product we put out was pretty average, though at the time we thought our music was amazing but that’s another story for a different day. As the years progressed, I started getting my hands dirty on the mixing side of things. I slowly honed my mixing skills over the years and at one point I was getting one on one mentoring from the man himself Tiopira from High Stakes Records, one half of the team behind our 2009 release “The Premiere” which is easily our most polished release to date. One random day my brother in arms, Hlats, up and decided that he too wanted a piece of the mixing/mastering action and he started demanding to have a hand in all our musical projects. At first, the quality of his work wasn’t anything to write home about but my good friend stuck to the task. From the release of our short mixtape “The Return” (2011), right up until our last release “Stimulus” (2013), Hlats worked tirelessly at improving his post-production skills and the man has improved his standard drastically since his first mix. He has proved that if you put quality time into improving any skill, regardless of difficulty, you will reap the rewards as long as you stick to the task and avoid taking shortcuts. Nowadays, Hlats the engineer can turnaround a quality mix in a matter of hours without seeming to break a sweat, I remember being in utter awe when I watched him work during a recent session. Having developed a workflow that works perfectly for him, he masterfully finished the song we were working on whilst we had a lazy conversation. It was as if he was casually tidying up his desk, which was quite amusing to me, and you can bet the outcome was right on point.

(Story continues after the image…)

Hlats has dedicated countless hours perfecting his post-production skills. Though I think he’s a boss now, he still pushes himself to be better…

On the other hand, I haven’t done much mixing since “The Return” and 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 painstakingly boring. Due to a lack of practice, I find myself having to spend several hours to finish a mix, which would have taken me less than a couple of hours to complete at one point. Don’t get me wrong though, I have developed other skills over the years that may not be part of the creative process but are still important to the existence of our crew and I will no doubt discuss these in future posts.

The moral of this story? If you have any skill you aim to master, the key is tireless hard work!!!! Simple.


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