Being a Do-It-Yourself recording artist is all the rage these days. From Kanye to Sapient to Stewart Villain to Eminem, there are extremely talented rap artists across the country who’ve expanded their horizons and taken full control of their crafts with success.

But everyone is not good at everything, and at times, DIY artists’ products suffer from a reluctance to ask (or pay) for help. That said, artists should continue to develop well-rounded skills – every skill in your toolbox is a bonus – but don’t let your pride stop you from seeking out the best specialists. I’ve put together a list of 10 things that up-and coming DIYers might just want to bite the bullet (pay some money) and farm out.

1) Recording

You can probably go to Guitar Center and get yourself a cool recording setup for around 2Gs. It really isn’t that hard. You can get all the cool equipment and have people tell you about chains and stuff, but in the end, if you really have no idea what this stuff does you are about to waste a ton of time learning when you’re supposed to be rapping and tweeting about your #StudioFlow.

Suggestion: Hit up Alexander Devine or Cruz over at Flatline Studios in PDX.

2) Mixing

Again, that home setup is cool, but what do you know about sibilance or emotional automation? Not a damn thing, huh? Can you make them drums hit harder than when you got the beat? OK, we’re done here.

Suggestion: Call Zeb at Momentum Studios.

3) Mastering

I can’t really explain what mastering is but I do know that anyone that offers to master your album for under $100 is going to throw a limiter on your joint and send it back to you. Most rappers I know send their projects to local engineers who then ship their work OT.

Suggestion: Ask Red Secta for a quote.

Carbine Action
Trox got this artwork for his single, “Carbine Action”, designed by Alexander Wright

4) Artwork

Having janky artwork is the fastest way to have your future classic deleted from my inbox and ignored by fans in one fell stroke. I shouldn’t have to say this but Facebook pictures should never be turned into album covers. Even if you have zero budget, there are lots of college students into design that’ll help you out on the love.

Suggestions: Our former E-I-C Jake Espi gets busy on design. Also, Alexander Wright is a nifty PDX visual design artist.

5) Photo / Video Shoots

Your phone may have a 13-MP camera but trust me, son, the lens is plastic and you probably don’t have a tri-pod. Step your game up and have someone skilled in both camera-handling and photo-editing handle your shoot.

Suggestions: WOHM’s own Adrian Adel and Cassandra Moses do still work in Portland and Seattle, respectively. Ed Galvez currently shoots our WOHMtv videos and has substantial music video experience as well.

6) Production

Rapping and tracking are two completely different skills. Tope and Stewie are two examples of NW rappers who make dope beats, but even they rarely rap over their own production. Think about that.

Suggestion: Read more WOHM and you’ll hear who’s dope to you.

7) Publicity

People go to school for this. Let them set you up. I know we’re in a time where unannounced albums drop in the middle of the night and go platinum within 72 hours, but chances are that’s not your life. Let a publicist get your music to the right people so you don’t do something stupid like send your crappy press release with no attachment to your miniscule blog list.

Suggestion: Holler at Colin Landforce.

8) Blogging

Rappers love to speak their minds. People love rappers because they speak their minds. Ironically, rapping well does not always translate to writing well. If you’re a good writer who has time to craft careful blog posts, go for it. If you’re kind of emotional and/or struggle with the difference between accept and except, I highly suggest finding someone to edit and post for you.

Suggestion: Send me a DM.

9) Singing Hooks

Back to that home studio… That auto-tune plugin you found is tempting, isn’t it? Singers don’t hit you back or the ones that do can’t hit the notes you need them to. I feel you. You can’t sing, but your friends are going to lie and say you sound good with the auto-tune on. You don’t.

Suggestion: AOB is a great male voice in PDX and Dice is a great female voice in Seattle. Highly recommended.


10) Carrying Drugs / Pimping Whores / Etc

Look, if you’re not just a rapper, but also a career criminal, please delegate your thuggery… Especially if you rap about that life. Police are watching, and your Facebook is not helping. It’s common sense that breaking the law is best done in the shadows, so becoming famous might not be the smartest thing if you have warrants pending. Seriously, let somebody else have the juice and avoid the trouble.

Suggestion: Get a part time job or a rich girlfriend.