Several days ago I hired a hip-hop producer to lay down the beats and melody for the first ever Hymn-Hop. The plan was to use Do What Is Right but its 3/4 time signature is unusual for hip-hop. So I decided on A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.
AMF (as it shall be known here on in) is an obvious second choice because it's one of the few songs I can actually play on piano, from sheet music. As a bonus I've studied the life of the composer Martin Luther and the context and motivation driving the lyrics. I feel qualified* to do this.
As for how to make AMF groove, the idea hit me while I was in the shower. I immediately jumped out and while dripping wet made this embarrassing audio memo:
My only other suggestion was to use the same funky, churchy organ for the melody as the song Groove Holmes from the Beastie Boys. What the producer came up with nailed it, first try:
Phase one is done.
Now it's time to write and record the rap. I can already hear it in my head. Not so much the lyrics but the rythm and cadence, when I need to be "in the pocket", and when I can go outside the beat. When I listen to this imagined rap I can't help but bop my head to the groove.
Of course the final product will have a gap, a difference between what I hear in my head and what I can perform with my mouth. American radio personality Ira Glass spoke of this gap between what we envision and what our current skill-set can deliver. The Hip-Hop producer I hired closed the gap with his work. I'm curious to see how close I can get to my ideal version.
We'll find out soon.
*Then again, how different is my process than my old co-worker whom I insinuated was a poseur? I feel bad for even thinking that. Like him, I still need a producer to take my ideas and make them into music.
I intend to become musically self-reliant though, by learning FL Studio or some other Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). The app is on my smartphone and I'm chipping away at it.