How To Make Beats Like Reggie Watts
Reggie Watts has made a career from creating beats out of nothing. Far from the months of tweaking albums in a studio, he can get up on stage and do it all live. He’s not the only artist to make beats like this but he’s the only artist to do it consistently well with so little prep.
It’s easy to put down to innate talent but there are methods to Reggie Watts’s work. Learning how to make beats his way will elevate any music production.
It’s difficult to pin down what makes Reggie Watts’ style so unique. He’s in a very small bracket of artists who people rarely try to imitate. There are a few parts of his style that crop up regularly enough that their purpose is clear within his work.
The first and most important tool is his voice. He can Beatbox, speak with accents and freestyle. These three element are things he has developed well enough that he can move between them at ease but all of them come up.
The beatboxing is essential for his loops. He makes them up on the fly and they are the first part of developing each song. After the basic beat is made he’ll move into creating layers that sound like a produced track. He uses accents and voices to stand in for samples but doesn’t stop there. His voices have specific purposes. He’ll use an upper class British accent to sound like a news report sample or an advertisement for bacon. A cartoon character voice becomes an opposing force to a hip hop track.
The freestyles are important, even when they’re not hugely intricate. Keeping the track flowing is easy to get with a beatboxing loop but it’s elevated by filling any gaps with freestyles.
It’s not glamorous but you can’t make music without getting familiar with it. As abstract as Reggie Watts can get, he didn’t start off there without finding a foundation in classical music. He’s played piano and violin since he was a kid and that’s evident in his performances.
You don’t need to have classical training but you do need to learn the basics and practice them. Understanding time signatures and structure in music is why Reggie Watts can make beats on the fly. It’s second nature to him.
Every song Reggie Watts makes contains a certain amount of nonsense. Usually someone stringing along a series of sounds with no real words won’t lead to anything compelling. The reason Reggie makes it work and keeps it funny is by balancing them well. Reggie can sing, beatbox, mix on the fly and freestyle but he rarely uses all his skills at once. There’s a good reason for this. A well mixed beatbox loop is great, adding a freestyle over it can make it into something that sounds dope but isn’t really Reggie. By balancing a well made loop with freestyle nonsense, the goofy parts are made a lot more goofy.
If Reggie is rapping or talking in accents or doing anything else ridiculous, the beat is sick. On the other hand, you can be assured that if the beat is more minimal Reggie is making up for it elsewhere. A less intricate beat will become the basis for him singing and it’s his voice that sounds sick.
It’s a careful undermining of itself. A sick beat with goofiness or a standard one being pulled up by great vocals. The less impressive beat won’t hold up comedy lyrics so Reggie doesn’t use it to.