Beat Bang: Skillions boss Jayso shares his Top 5 Productions

“I only got interested in production because I couldn’t find a producer who made the kind of beats I wanted” – Jayso told BeatPhreak



JAYSO needs no introduction as far as the music scene in Ghana is concerned. His imprints on the scene is as huge as those of a bear on a muddy land. His profile and influence strides across rap, music production and of course, A&R. Nobody in the music scene has been able to identify and shape the career path of many young rappers as Jayso. 

For a decade, Jayso co-founded the first hip-hop collective, Skillions in the early 2000s. Made up of himself, EL, J-Town, Ball J, Jinx (now Frank P), Midknight and KP, the Skillions were at the forefront of hip-hop in Ghana. 

Serving as a rapper and a producer, JaySo masterminded their first mixtape. After the group members went different paths, he constituted another group made up young rappers under the ‘Skillions New Generation’ (had Lil Shaker, Rumor, Killmatic, BraKevin Beats, Graffick and Padlock and Gemini as affiliates). He also guided the careers of award winning singer, Adina Thembi and Paapa along with Sandra, Edi Young. 

In December, 2015, Jayso released his long awaited debut ‘’Making Tasha Proud’’ to great acclaim. For all his stellar gift on the mic, it is his production skills that most know him for. Jayso’s production catalogue is a box of glistering stones. He has produced for some of the best and famed rappers in the country and beyond including Sway DaSafo (UK), Wyclef (US) as well as Sarkodie, Kwaw Kesse, ASEM, Scientific. 

Despite his name tagged to so many hit songs, Jayso dug into his work and pulled his Top 5 productions (thus far), sharing in the process, the exciting back stories to how the beats or productions came about.  Brace up and step into the works of the one and only Jayso

LAY AWAY [SARKODIE FT. SWAY & JAYSO]

Back in 2008, I was in the studio working with the New Generation Skillions and my old friend and in my opinion one of the pioneers of GH-Rap Music, Dr. Carl visited (a Radio Host/DJ at Radio Universe). He’d just started making beats. He was playing some of his beats for me and there was this particular beat which had a very weird drum pattern. It was off-beat but there was a snare roll that caught my attention. I copied the snare-roll which sounded almost like a drum fill and started building a completely different beat around it. Around the time I was using Hypersonic 2 and was crazy about the Brass synths it came with so I used that for the horns. Everything was produced on FL Studio except the piano. I played that in Cubase.

I loved what I created and immediately started writing to it. I wrote and recorded the chorus and started writing my verses. At the time I was working on Sarkodie’s album so he heard it during one of our sessions and loved it but I told him to stay off because left to him, he’ll rap on every beat I had lol. Before I could finish the song something interesting happened. 

Sway visited the studio a few days later to work with Black Prophet. I hit up Sarkodie to rush to the studio because we were hoping to get Sway on one of his songs. The two artistes had already met at a radio station the previous day and they both respected each other so the possibility of a collaboration wasn’t far-fetched. Sarkodie came through and after Sway’s session with Black Prophet, we talked about the collaboration. Sway was in a hurry to leave so he asked me to play some beats. None of the beats worked for him so he was about to leave and Sarkodie pulled me to the side like “Jayso, what about that Lay Away song?” I was reluctant at first because it was for my album but I decided to give it to Sarkodie because we could lose that collaboration with Sway. I played it for Sway and he loved it. Sway recorded his verse and the rest is history.

WAR [KWAW KESE FEAT. WYCLEF JEAN]

Wyclef Jean visited Ghana in 2009 for a concert. On the day of his concert, I was home chilling and Kwaw Kese called me and told me to be on standby because there’s a possibility that he’ll get Wyclef to jump on one of his songs. 

At the time, Kwaw Kese was recording some songs at my studio. I rushed to the studio and prepared the place for the session. I was excited but to be perfectly I didn’t expect much. I didn’t think Wyclef would make it. I mean, this is Wyclef. Wyclef in my studio in Adenta? No way. But hey, I compiled some of my best beats and sat tight. A few hours later Kwaw Kese called me again to tell me they are en route to the studio.

We got to work immediately they arrived. I played a bunch of beats and Wyclef selected one. He went straight into the booth and started free-styling his verse. No pen. No pad. He finished in no time. We talked about music, politics etc- a very cool and humble fella. Wyclef had to leave so Kwaw Kese recorded his parts later. One of my favorite sessions till date.

NOTHING WITHOUT YOU (SCIENTIFIC FEAT. JAYSO)

Nothing Without You is one of my favorite songs. The message, the chorus, Scientific’s verses, it’s simply beautiful. In 2008, Scientific called me about a song he’d written and wanted to record. I asked him to come to the studio. He had already written the chorus and verses so he asked me to sing it. He didn’t need to convince me. Working on the beat was easy since my guide was the chorus.

PIZZA & BURGER [JAYSO & SARKODIE]

This song sparked the idea of a joint album between myself and Sarkodie (The Mind Game). Sarkodie was in America and sent me a voice-note of the chorus for Pizza and Burger. Soon as I heard the chorus I had a clear idea what to create. I revisited an old drum pattern I had created back in 2010 and re-produced it. I sent the beat to Sark and let’s just say the rest is history.

MAKING TASHA PROUD [JAYSO FEAT. A.I]

The whole album was inspired by Tasha, my biggest fan (as I stated on the song). The album had been long in the works so, when she hit me about it, I quickly hit the booth to record. I had the beat laid already and the verses ready. I didn’t struggle on who to put on the hook. I have known AI for a while-we are all Adenta boys and had visited my studio many times. So, I drafted him on and the rest of the story is out there.

His latest gift to the world is herehttps://soundcloud.com/jaysoskillions/sets/0106epvol2

Follow Jayso on twitter @Jaysoskillions

written by: Swaye Kidd (@swayekidd)

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Beat Bang: NeL Magnum (NLMGNM) Talks his Top 5 Produced beats

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‘Roger That!’ Henceforth, whenever you hear this signature tag on a song, be informed the song is produced by Nel Magnum (NLMGNM). A brilliant young producers whose productions are as soulful and lush as you’d hear, Nel has earned himself respect among some artistes.  As production credits goes, NLMGNM has worked with artistes like EL, C-Real, Gemini, Feli Nuna, Quayba and Alexia. He’s one of the sampling heads in the game. His song productions aside, Nel has extended his gifts to movie scoring. He scored for the Pascal Aka directed movie Interception. In this post, NLMGNM talks his Top 5 works and how it came together.

 EL – Don’t Let Me Burn

The production for this song was composed primarily in Propellerheads Reason 5. It began with a funk electric guitar loop from Reason Soul School Refill.

Don’t Let Me Burn is one of those songs that makes me understand that we have amazing talents in Ghana in the sense of EL’s ability to create a sound that is fit for a Hollywood produced movie. The production for this song was composed primarily in Propellerheads Reason 5. It began with a funk electric guitar loop from Reason Soul School Refill. The horns and the organs were programmed in FL Studio along with the drums and the percussions. Originally this beat wasn’t meant for EL. The instrumental went through a number of musicians who seemed interested. However, at the end of it all, EL was the one who rose to make claim of this beat. The recording, mixing and mastering processes were done by EL.

 

C-Real – Make It Work

The beat was originally called Homeland Glory. The horns inspired the name. This instrumental was produced in 2013. There wasn’t any story behind this production. However, the beat has been through more studios and through the headphones of more rappers than I can imagine. At a point in time, it was the very first beat I played to anybody looking to work on a hip-hop anthem, but none was able to make it theirs until C-Real stepped up to it in 2014. The process for this instrumental began with the horns. However, the most notable element in this production is the uplifting spiccato strings from Edirol Orchestral that is prevalent in the chorus. The drums, and the muted guitars in the pre-choruses, are from Propellerhead Reason 5. In the chorus, there’s this guitar that plays and that comes from Sample Logic Cinematic Guitars. The song was recorded and mixed (by NLMGNM) at MixDown Studios and was mastered by Waxi. The final song was released on C-Real’s 2016 mixtape Business Ties & Dress Shoes.

 

Lvin Red – On Top Of The World

Working with Lvin Red has been one of the purest forms of musical compositions ever. He’s always pushing the boundaries. And even though he recognizes the limitations in the Ghanaian music industry, he never forgets the limitless potentials he possesses within himself.  Quayba with her extraordinary voice delivered an award winning vocals on the chorus which was written by Lvin Red.

The production for this song began with a piano riff from Nii Kpakpo Thompson (best known as GAVET) and host of Tonight with Nii Kpakpo Thompson. Upon hearing the riff Nii played, I sought to produce a song Coca-Cola or Pepsi will buy to use in their marketing campaigns. The acoustic guitars are from Native Instruments Session Guitarist. For the electric guitar, I manipulated an electric guitar preset in Steinberg’s Hypersonic 2 and I ran it through Native Instruments Guitar Rig to give it that dirty distorted feel. The uplifting spiccato strings I got from Odirol Orchestral. On Top Of The World was recorded at MixDown Studios (mixed by NLMGNM) and mastered by Waxi.

 

 Alexia SunGold – Dance Tonight

As with most of my productions, this beat wasn’t meant for Alexia. It went through a few signers before Alexia SunGold made a classic out of it.

Alexia is one of those singers you’d want to work with after hearing her voice. She has grace and her voice range is quite impressive on a lot of productions from my camp (REGAL MUSIC). The instrumental for this song was made in the final quarter of 2016, and I was looking to make it a happy tune for the Christmas season. If you should listen very well you can hear the jingles of sleigh bells in the beat. However, plans did not go as one imagined. The process began when I was playing around with some piano chords. With a solid tune from the piano chords, I proceeded with percussions. Once that was done, the rest of the instruments followed up so effortlessly, especially the horns. The horns from Native Instruments Session Horns gave the production a victorious and uplifting sound.  As with most of my productions, this beat wasn’t meant for Alexia. It went through a few signers before Alexia SunGold made a classic out of it. The song was mastered by Waxi.

 

Modulo TGB X NLMGNM – Shito

This song is one of the most incredible songs I’ve produced in my career as a record producer. This production was a challenge thrown to me by a friend to produce a song with as little melody as possible. Being an African, and to be able to produce such a song with little or no melody, I went back to my root instruments, percussions. Making this the Ga song it is I decided to visit the gome, a traditional Ga instrument. At a tempo of 123bpm, I began with the traditional “ka-ka-ka–kaka” rhythm.

This song is one of the most incredible songs I’ve produced in my career as a record producer.

The congas from Discovery Series West African Drums threw a little “busyness” on the tune. Displacing the kicks by shifting it to the second and the fourth beats, I threw the instrumental into an unprecedented kick pattern.

After the beat was done, the chorus came to me when I decided to freestyle to the beat. For the reason why it is Shito, I don’t know. After the chorus was recorded, I invited Modulo TGB to do justice on the beat. The recording (NLMGNM), mixing (Waxi) and mastering (Waxi) was done at Mr. Waxi’s Studio at Labadi.