How To Produce Music For A 500 lb Rapper

March 27th, 2009
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Quang Ly and rapper Might Bestruck

Quang Ly and rapper Might Bestruck

When I was asked to produced Bestruck (real name Brian Forte), I was very excited. I engineered and produced a variety of different genres before but a solid hip hop project seemed to eluded me for a very long time. FYI, no one got shot while making this album. Always a plus in my book.

I’ve always loved groove based melodic music and it was hard to find hip hop music I really enjoyed in all aspects commercially and artistically without sounding gimmicky. Hip hop music that is well, musical, colourful, and tasteful. This was my chance to take hip hop to the next level and explore new elements and challenges on my own terms.

By the way, Bestruck also headlined a show at the Trocadero Theater in Philadelphia. The live performance is also in the Around Da World – EP.

Here’s a brief story behind each song.

Bestruck - Around Da World
This is probably the most accessible and well produced track of all. I absolutely love it and it really shows my European music influenced beats. The drum track is essentially drum and bass but it originally had a too staccato mechanical feel. So adding the constant arpeggiators through a high pass filter gave it more momentum without sounding too bottom heavy. It was also my chance to add screaming guitar riffs that really gives it intensity and dynamics. The airplane sample at the end really does give it an “international” effect symbolic of the song. No, I won’t tell you which 80s record the sample was lifted from. 😉

This is another one of my favorites. Originally it was a track no artist wanted but I always knew it had potential. Bestruck’s lyrics and delivery flowed well. A great catchy hook along side next Braxton family crooner Michael Braxton (Toni Braxton’s brother). Additional vocal arrangements by my good friend David Fenton. We must have recorded 25 vocal tracks layered and mixed together for the chorus for harmony. My little cousin Trang added the laugh track in the beginning and end of the song which added a more personal dimension. I always try to involve friends and family in something I love doing and felt it was perfect. I think this is the only song Bestruck did NOT have any disaggreements with me on (laughs).


This was a crowd pleaser at the Trocadero show. The song was written in memory of Bestruck’s late mother. I love his lyrics because they really do inspire people from all backgrounds to live up. You may notice the resemblance in the beat with 50 Cent’s In Da Club. No, it wasn’t a sample. It just turned out that way. The chorus part was actually Bestruck himself and not a girl. His voice was pitch shift using an MPC drum sampler. For the live show, we did have R&B singer Michaelle Taylor sing it and she killed it! Check out the clip on the Amazon MP3 music player.

This song was heavily influenced by my love for the NEPTUNES/N.E.R.D and Recoil (Alan Wilder ex Depeche Mode). I performed the drums and congas at Gamble and Huff studios and later tweaked, chopped, and reprocessed them in my lab. Strange note: you may think drums are loud instruments and thus easy to record but it must have taken 4 hours to get right. I was in the moment playing and when I heard the playback, it sounded like someone hitting cardboard paper.

My first track with Bestruck. It sounds a bit strange and electronic to me in an endearing way. Very different. Bestruck’s girlfriend Ashanti did some vocals on the track. I thought she was very sweet and nice. And then when she went into the vocal booth, a whole new raunchy side came out. It raised some eye brows in the control room. Frankly, when I first started arranging, I didn’t even know how know the number of bars (measures) or how to slice beats together.

I really liked this song but couldn’t find the right rapper on it so I just released it as an instrumental. I think it has some nice breaks and textures in there.

Some people find it unusual that I am very proud of finishing a hip hop album apart from my Delta Dreams moniker. However, it is something that I always wanted to do for a very long time. I think it turned out well and crosses musical and racial boundaries.I am also grateful I worked with some good people: Bestruck, Sean (Bestruck’s manager), David Abraham (friend), Pascal Volberg (engineer).

Thanks for reading (and listening)!

Quang Ly.