Switching Sides with Allday & NYNE

Tom Gaynor from Adelaide is one of the hottest up and coming modern Australian rappers today. Surprisingly, Gaynor’s roots lie within the punk genre, from when he used to be a part of a band from his highschool days entitled ‘sissycunt’. Gaynor now goes by the alias ‘Allday’ (which is a much nicer name, and easier on the ears too) and has been a part of the scene for over 5 years, beginning to produce beats in January 2011 after dropping out of university and then going on to release several Mixtapes and EPs. His debut album ‘Startup Cult‘ was released in 2014, debuting at #3 on the Aria charts. This album’s huge success helped the rapper break one hundred thousand likes on his Facebook page. Startup Cult featured the singles ‘Right Now‘, ‘You Always Know The DJ‘, and ‘Wolves‘ (featuring Sunni Colon).

But this blog post isn’t just going to be a history lesson. We’re going to take a look at some of the production techniques and aesthetics that make Allday’s tracks sound so fresh and so clean.


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Title: Sides
Artist: Allday feat. NYNE
Duration: 3:38 | Tempo: 80bpm | Key: E minor
Release date: July 15th 2016
Album: Speeding (April 21st 2017)
Label: Wind-Up Records
Written by: Allday & NYNE
Mastered by: Chris Athens


LYRICS (Source: Genius.com):

CH
She just wanna go downtown when the sun down
Got a couple pills and it's cool 'til the comedown
And I brought the whole damn crew but it's alright
Living every day to the fullest, never switch sides
Switch sides, switch sides
Switch sides, switch sides
Switch sides, switch sides
Living every day to the fullest, never switch sides

V1
No hit records on my demo, no talent, this is effort
Sculpting stone like Donatello of the clouds, visionary
Ray of light, ray of light, found myself out in the desert
Arizona sky like neon Nerds, system filled with venom
But if that’s their disses for me, I do not feel disrespected
I just feel young, wealthy, kind of handsome, independent
Did I mention independent? Casper’s t-shirt, Independent
Small labels with the method, whole team did this together
Oh no, oh no, they had to be a hassle
I got bigger fishes, killer whales, I know they’re really mammals
People’s morals getting lost, it's too much for me to handle
I don’t take these hoes to dinner, I would rather eat a barrel

PCH
These things used to hurt but I’m stronger now
Reps, reps, reps, reps, 'til I’m bulging out
I know the way they talk when I’m not around
That's why I only come around when it's going down

CH

V2
I’m streaking, I’m streaking fully dressed
No peeking, no peeking at my test
I'm skidding, I'm skidding through these streets
With my whole team squished into the seats
That's my old whip, kept it when I signed the deal
That's my new girl, think this one might be real
Guess I say that, I guess I say that every time
I would hate to have to settle, I need to get this right
On Bell Street going past the cemetery
Don’t bury me there, heaven help me
Ooh, having panic attacks, this stress ain't healthy
Blue like repping Chelsea, go tell them girls, "Leave"

PCH
But I’m India like New Delhi, the new Delly, I'll cross you up
Crossed with Nelly and you always find some summer
No matter what the month; Goulding like Ellie
But I'll make a bad boyfriend like Oscar Pistorius
And when all is done and said, it's me and my warriors
And she just

CH
She just wanna go downtown when the sun down
Got a couple pills and it's cool 'til the comedown
And I brought the whole damn crew but it's alright
Living every day to the fullest, never switch sides
Switch sides, switch sides (never fuckin' switch sides)
Switch sides, switch sides (never fuckin' switch sides)
Switch sides, switch sides (never switch sides)
Living every day to the fullest, never switch sides

Structure

Sides follows a very generic radio single structure, consisting mainly of verses and choruses, with an intro and a couple pre-chorus sections, but it toys with the idea of the “chorus” to come up with an interesting and dynamic three and a half minutes of new age Aussie hip-hop.

Instrumentation

Graunke & Bluff’s production on this track fully consists of electronic elements (electronic synths & drum samples), with the exception of the recorded vocals. This is a common practice in trap music, which is the style ‘new school’ Aussie hip hop borrows elements from.

Intro (0:00 – 0:11)

The song begins with a simple plucked-style FM synth over a sub bass, with some pitched-down vocal splices. These continue into the first chorus after 4 bars. The melody that the plucked synth is playing is the most common element of the piece and helps listeners identify the song right from the start if they’ve heard it before.

Chorus A (0:12 – 0:35)

The intro bleeds into the first Chorus which has Nyne singing over the synth, bass & vocal splices from the intro, with ad-libs from Gaynor. 808-style kicks lead this first chorus into a verse.

Verse 1 (0:36 – 1:11)

The bass drops out, and Gaynor comes in with some pitchy rap vocals that hit around the E and F# notes, as a filtered electronic snare starts knocking in the background. An arpeggiated synth can also be heard but may also have a low-pass filter on it. After almost 4 bars, the bass comes back in, and a high pitched vocal splice leads the instrumentation into the meaty part of the verse. Electronic drum samples (kick, snare, hi-hat) come in with a simple hip hop beat that may have some trap influence (syncopated hi-hat rolls pitched up and down). The reverb on the snare here combined with the ghostly vocal splices and minor key of the song put the listener in a haunting atmosphere with Gaynor’s vocals, the drums, and the synths cutting through the fog.

Pre-Chorus (1:12 – 1:23)

Gaynor’s vocals become a bit more tuned here again as the chord progression changes, an orchestral pad synth comes in, and the drums revert back to just the filtered snare hits. The synths also drop out here in favour of a more empty feeling soundscape. Chord progression changes back to the original again for the chorus.

Chorus A (1:24 – 1:47)

The first half of the chorus feels vast and empty, with nothing but the bass, Nyne’s chorus vocals, backing “oooh” vocals, and an orchestral pad synth before building back up into a more “full” chorus with the plucked synth, the drums, high pitched vocal splices, and Gaynor’s ad-libs. This may be to accentuate the second half of the chorus which mentions the song’s title to make it more memorable to potential listeners. A bitcrusher effect is applied to the drums at the end of the chorus to transition the song into the second verse.

Verse 2 (1:48 – 2:23)

The second verse is similar to the first, with the addition of an airy pad synth, which sound very reverberated and also like it has a tape-stop effect on the 4th beat of each bar, possibly from a plugin such as Dblue Glitch. After the first four bars, this verse is identical to the first, except for Gaynor’s lyrics and the delivery of some of his lines seem pitch corrected, especially as he sings “with my whole team squished into the seats” at 1:56.

Pre-Chorus (2:24 – 2:35)

Almost identical to the first pre-chorus but here, the orchestral synth and alternate chord progression continues through the next chorus and into the outro.

Chorus B (2:36 – 2:59)

The alternate chord progression gives this chorus a completely different feel from the other two, hence why I’ve labled it Chorus B. This chorus is completely devoid of percussion until the end when the bit-crushed drum fill leads the song into its outro. This section is the most “empty” feeling chorus in terms of layers purposefully to build up to a strong instrumental outro littered with synths and vocal splices.

Outro (3:00 – 3:38)

The outro of the song is 12 bars long with the first 8 bars being a very full sounding instrumental breakdown containing all of the elements mentioned before, sans lead vocals. The last 4 bars of the song sees some elements drop out as the song prepares to end to not feel as if it ends abruptly to the listener.

Production Aesthetics

The reason why the collective vocals are the centrefold of this track is due to the many production decisions made.

The intro + first chorus incorporate background vocal splices that are pitch modulated and also most likely time-stretched and reverberated to make it sound like a choir vocal, which gives it an atmospheric feeling and ultimately send chills down the listener’s spine. At the start of the verses and the pre-chorus sections, the drums are filtered to accentuate Allday’s main rap vocals as the focus of the song, also so the listener can get a feel for the flow before the beat drops. The outro sees the main raps take more of a background stance and puts emphasis on the vocal splices, which are pitched up, and like the lower pitch splices, are also reverberated. This technique creates something entirely new by making it sound nothing like a normal vocal – it now gives off a supernatural, enchanted vibe.

Vocal splices are a very common aspect of trap and hip-hop music, so the decision to include these into this production was partly to keep up with trends within the style of the music, and also as mentioned before to add more expression to the piece. Vocals are the most powerful aspect of not just hip hop but many other styles of music. Allday’s main rap vocals are also pitch modulated in the verses, most noticeable at 1:57 when the beats drops out for a bar – most likely done in Melodyne (or a similar performance correction tool).

Conclusion

Allday & NYNE’s Sides felt more like it’s own ‘main course’ instead of a ‘side’. It’s just one of those tracks that feels like it has a lot of gravity to it, and that’s achieved through the use of specific types of synths & sounds. Listening to the beat feels like you’ve opened the door and stepped into a chill & soothing sonic landscape, with the vocals only adding more flavour and character to the piece. Credit to the producers and engineers, because this track exceeds expectations and showcases a definitive evolution from a typical Aussie hip-hop song.

References

Bacon, E. (2014, September, 25) Where did Allday come from? [Web Article] Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/where-did-allday-come-from-20140925-10lrzq.html

Genius.com (@016, August, 7) Allday – Sides Lyrics [Song Lyrics] Retrieved from https://genius.com/Allday-sides-lyrics

Marsland, D. (2016, October, 6) The Changing Face Of Hip Hop In Australia [Web Article] Retrieved from http://pilerats.com/music/rap/the-changing-face-of-hip-hop-in-australia/

Wikipedia (2017, June, 17) Allday – Wikipedia [Wiki Article] Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allday 

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Switching Sides with Allday & NYNE

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