Strictly for: The rapper, seeking to establish a working relationship with a hip-hop producer.
1. Be Honest
There’s nothing worse than a liar. Producers appreciate honesty. The last thing you want to do is lie to someone about who you’ve worked with, or what “deals you have on the table”. Honesty is the start of a healthy working creative and business relationship.
2. Don’t Be Pretentious
Telling a producer that you’ve got the power to “put them on” is actually a huge turn off. Regardless of what you believe you can bring to the table to help a producer, always approach those conversations by thinking mutually. Sure, the producer might be a new jack, but if you believe in his/her music, your goal is to form a “partnership”.
3. Be Knowledgeable
One of the worst things you can do is engage in a conversation with an “established producer”, and know nothing about them. It’s the same as going into a job interview, not knowing the name of the company or what position you are applying for. Do your research! Create a plan of attack. Producers appreciate it when you show that you know more about them than the average person.
4. Name Dropping Is A No-No
100% of the time, you make yourself look pretentious (see Law #2) when you name drop to a hip-hop producer. Everyone appreciates accolades, and association with certain individuals is absolutely important. But bringing these things up in conversation is counter productive. Most good producers know what’s out, and who’s hot/up-coming. If the producer (established or not) has never heard of you before, don’t shove it down their throat that you opened up for Young Jeezy in 2009. Nobody cares.
5. Appear Properly
First impressions are everything. Make sure your breath is in check. If you are initiating conversation in a bar or club with loud music, don’t scream into the person’s ear (you can literally cause hearing damage to that person). After you’ve “dapped” the producer and proceed to talk, do not hold the “post-dap-handshake” for more than 3 seconds. Be aware of your surroundings, and the context of the environment you are in (For Example: a recording studio is a much more comfortable/open environment to network with a hip-hop producer).
6. Let Them Speak
All people love to talk about themselves. A great way to break the ice is to ask questions, allowing them to talk. The key is to know the right questions to ask (see Law #3 Be Knowledgeable).
7. Know When To Walk Away
Be aware of that moment when your interaction with the hip-hop producer is coming to a close. If you’ve managed to get to the “lets exchange contacts” phase, this is usually your signal to end the interaction immediately afterwards. Do not prolong an un-welcomed engagement. The length of the interaction, and amount of enjoyment for both parties is all dependent on how successfully you’ve closed the deal.
8. Never Say “Let’s Collab”
The word “collab” is short for “collaboration”. Most hip-hop producers understand a “collab” as nothing more than you asking them for a free beat (or more). This is not a good starting point. A producer must feel like the partnership will become lucrative (either immediately, or in the future).
9. Put The Work In
You need playing chips. The more successful you become, the more apt a hip-hop producer (established or not) is going to be open to working with you. Never forget that.
10. Don’t “Bust An Acapella”
Believe it or not, most hip-hop producers don’t care if you can spit a million rhymes, on the spot, a million miles per hour. Most producers care more about your accomplishments, than your actual skills. Yes, it’s true. Rhyming “on the spot” is a complete annoyance and absolute waste of time.
11. Don’t Play Music From Your IPod
You must understand that listening to music from ear-buds is the least satisfying way to experience music, let alone for the first time. You also must understand that sharing ear bud headphones is unsanitary. Hip-hop producers need to experience your music on a bigger medium. Even with Beats By Dre’s, you are still forcing someone to commit their time to listen to your music. That’s a lot to ask.
12. Maintain Confidence
Being confident improves your ability to deal with people. Hip-hop producers want to invest their time into somebody who has things under control. Don’t be emotionally unstable. If you are emotionally unstable, get help to fix it. Believe in yourself, and the rest will follow.