Eight man strong, the Newport, Wales, collective flowing under the heading Goldie Lookin’ Chain is providing what was missing from music:
Likened to the Beastie Boys more often than not, their debut long-player, Straight Outta Newport, first catapulted GLC into the public’s consciousness after the success of their website, www.youknowsit.co.uk, and a series of DIY demos. And GLC’s stories run the gamut from songs about smoking, going out, smoking, life in Newport, smoking, you get the picture.
Dwayne “Xain” Xedong, one of the main mouthpieces for the crew recounts the process underlying their hit single, “Guns Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do,” which went to number three in the British charts.
“All the kids, as I call them, they come around to the studio area downstairs in my house, a room full of crap we called HQ, and they say stuff they’ve said to themselves to me and we try and hook up some songs around it. Mr. Love Eggs was saying ‘guns don’t kill people, rappers do,’ and we decided it would be a really good idea to make a song out of it. I laid down some grooves on the computer. I’ve been PC-based for ages. I call the computer ‘the rave generator.’ It’s actually two custom-built PCs with 128 MB RAM. It’s not very powerful, but built for music spec by C.Live Ltd. in South Wales.
We use Cakewalk. It’s really good because it’s not compatible with a lot of other things, so professional types can’t play around with my stuff. I have to let them have it mastered rather than let them have all composite parts on the CD that they can open somewhere because no one really understands the program, which is quite good.
We started off with a basic rhythm and built up the track sampling a Martha Velez tune, which I got from Cardiff Market for 4 pounds, which has got a good groove on it. I used to use an Emu ESI 4000 Turbo sampler, but I haven’t turned it on for two and a half years. Now I use the computer, recording directly onto Cakewalk. A lot of times with samples I’ll put it in Sony’s ACID Pro 5 and you can do whatever you want with [the sample]. You can put it in the pitch or BPM you want and re-import it back into Cakewalk. You can slice them, move things around, and start building up like that. The nice thing about the way the groove works [on “Guns”], it leaves breathing room for the snare so if you’re looking at a page it’s got that bit of space on it that sets everything into place.
There’s four of us rapping: me, Mr. Love Eggs, who does the first rap, and then there’s Adam Hussain, and Mike Balls. We use Shure SM58 microphones. They give a fantastic top end and are very responsive for any type of voice. We’ve got so many different types of voices in the GLC. A lot of people like to use valve mics and stuff like that and put people in booths. We’re making hip-hop. We keep it real. We do it very organically. If someone’s got a rhyme, or was done a verse, they’ll step up, we’ll bang it in and keep going. We compress the vocals. Compression’s the secret to anything. Any effects that go on the track will go on through the computer plug-ins.
When we finished with it I thought to myself it needed some scratching at the end of it. I took it to Second Son, a record producer from Cardiff. He’s got a DJ on his roster called Upper Cut, and he did some scratching on the end and we finished it off. We took it to be mastered in London at the Exchange. They made it sound too clean and sheen-y, like guitar music. So I took it to Second Son again, gave him my finished version and he mastered it there to give it a more punchy hip-hop feel.