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  • Daniel Vannoy

What makes a $B Beat

The rise of $uicideboy$, plus my attempt at replicating their iconic sound.


description: $uicideboy$ members Ruby Da Cherry (left) and $crim (right)

Hip-hop and rap are two of the most popular genres of pop music. Almost half of the songs on iHeartRadio’s top 40 are either a rapper, feature a rapper, or have a hip-hop beat. Hip-hop’s influence has skyrocketed as rap has become mainstream. In the past, record labels such as Def Jam, Death Row, and Cash Money dominated the industry, bringing new and upcoming hip-hop artists to the forefront of popular culture.


Now after the advent of music sharing/streaming services, specifically SoundCloud, new underground and independent artists receive otherwise impossible exposure to masses of fans. Many choose to publish their music without a large label backing them. Rap has burgeoned on SoundCloud not only because of the ease of publicity, but also because of the dawn of free music production software. Digital audio workstations (DAWs) are widely available and free. Some of the most famous free DAWs are GarageBand which comes on every Apple computer and Audacity which can be downloaded from its website.


One group that took advantage of these enabling factors is the New Orleans hip-hop group Suicideboys (stylized $uicideboy$).



DEscription: $B at a concert

ABout the artist

$uicideboy$ ($B) is a trap/horrorcore rap duo founded by Scott Arceneaux Jr. and his cousin Aristos Petrou. The two go by the monikers $crim and Ruby Da Cherry respectively.


After both experienced dissatisfaction with the direction their lives were going, they agreed to make a pact that if their musical career did not work out they would both commit suicide. $B have created a lengthy discography of singles, EPs and albums in a short amount of time since their 2014 foundation.


From their humble origins on SoundCloud all the way to their sold out tours, $B has demonstrated the efficacy of the tools they use to create and spread their work. $crim makes a vast majority of the beats used in their songs. According to equipboard.com, he uses GarageBand to produce his tracks.


According to a how-to YouTube video on $B’s beats, there are three main types of songs in their repertoire. The first is a loud mosh-pit trap beat. A great example of this style is the song “Paris”. These types of songs are aggressive and feature heavy trap instrumentals. The second is a an emotional sample based beat. Songs like “122 Days” and “...And To Those I Love, Thanks For Sticking Around” exemplify this style. The last style that $crim uses is a Three 6 Mafia type beat, featuring Memphis horrorcore samples overdubbed with trap beats. The beat will usually start with a sample and then pick up after a couple loops. “Omen” is a great example of this last type of beat. Below are videos of each style of beat used by $B in their songs.


paris



122 days



omen



My goal

For my final project in COMM 410, I wanted to learn more about music production, specifically underground music such as $B. In the past I have dabbled with music production on GarageBand and Ableton, but have never produced much more than 8 bar loops or experimental roughly made beats. I combined this with my interest in $B and created this blog to document my process.


Digital Audio Workstation Garageband (credit to Businessinsider.com)


I enjoy much of $B’s music because of their hard-driving trap beats. These beats, while simplistic, are tightly woven and employ the same formula of trap essentials and dark, ominous samples. I will to build a simple beat inspired by $B and their signature sound of gothic SoundCloud rap. I intend to do this by analyzing $B songs and by trial and error. First, I need to form an outline of the essentials to creating a trap beat.


THe Essentials

The main parts that comprise a trap beat are the hook (either a sample or a melody played on a synth), the bassline, and the drums. . For the bass-line, I used the native 808 sub in GarageBand’s version of an 808 drum machine. After tapping out a quick hook and sparce bass-line (blank space goes a long way when using a sub bass), I can get started on the drums.



To start off, I am producing the track in 4/4 time and at a tempo of 108 bpm. For the hook, I ended up using Garageband’s mellotron with a simple slow haunting combination of flute and strings.




For the bass, I downloaded a sample pack of Lex Luger style drums. Lex Luger is a record producer who is famous for founding 808 Mafia, one of the most famous hip-hop production teams. I used the 808 sample and played around with changing the pitch to get what I wanted. I used the kick from the same drum Lex Luger pack. I placed it on the 1 and 3 downbeats in each bar. The snare I used is from the same drum pack. This is important because the pack contains the right sounds for the drums. The snare is snappy and short, which is just how it should be in a trap beat.


American Record PRoducer LEx luger (credit to Thefader.com)

I found a hi-hat sample in the drum pack and played around with it for a while. This took some time as I couldn’t assign the clips to a key, and I don’t have my launchpad on hand. A midi controller with pads would have been super useful but I left mine at home this semester. Regardless, I used my third method of creativity (trial and error) and played around with note divisions, trills, and triplets until I got what I wanted. The hi-hat is interesting because while it needs to be specifically in the right places, it never has to be the same way twice. Adding random changeups like doubling, trills, and triplets helps keep the beat interesting and can also add dynamic range to a beat.



For effects, I found several sounds that are essential to any $B track. I found an evil laugh which I pitched down. Then I found a night-vision goggles sound which is good for buildup before a drop. Finally, I added the spice of Memphis horrorcore with a chopped-up clip of Juicy J’s infamous Three 6 Mafia ad-lib.


After putting all these parts together, I created a simple trap beat similar to a $crim beat. For the cover art of my beat, I used a flash photo of a tree that I took one night while walking on campus.


hEre is the photo:


This image is dark, mysterious, and foreboding. It fits the track well.



Here is the final product uploaded on soundcloud:



Final Thoughts

Overall, I took the parts that make up a $B track and created my own variation of a beat. This beat is unpolished and by no means professional, but it was a fun project to undertake. I learned more about $uicideboy$ and their style of music. Although easy to listen to, the beats that $B uses are far from simple. I hope to take the knowledge and experience i gained while making the beat forward as i create other beats and songs.


BElow is a video of me breaking down my track and going more in-depth on the parts that comprise it.








References


Top 40 song chart: Iheartradio. Music Charts. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2021, from https://news.iheart.com/featured/charts/top-40/.


$uicideboy$ Hometown, lineup, Biography. Last.fm. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2021, from https://www.last.fm/music/$uicideboy$/+wiki.


$uicideboy$. Equipboard. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://equipboard.com/pros/uicideboy.


FinnaFinesse. (n.d.). How $uicideboy$ make their signature melodies - youtube. Retrieved December 11, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyiweit8Jr4.