Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Manny Marroquin - Inside Track: Kanye West 'Stronger'

Rappers Kanye West and 50 Cent intentionally put their latest albums under starter’s orders on the same date, September 11, 2007, so they could slug it out in the charts, 50 Cent sulkily declaring that he would stop releasing records if he lost the race (a statement he since appears to have retracted). As both artists had enlisted the services of celebrity producer Timbaland, the whole thing felt rather like a family feud gone public. There appears to be no clear winner yet in their who–sells–the–most–albums stakes, but West has had one of the hits of the year in ‘Stronger’, which was a UK and US number 1.

‘Stronger’ is constructed around a sample of ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ by French duo Daft Punk, itself based on a sample of a song by ’70s funkateer and keyboardist Edwin Birdsong called ‘Cola Bottle Baby’. Daft Punk strongly quantised the beat and added vocoded vocals, giving the song a Kraftwerk–like robotic feel. They also added a melodic chorus with a descending chord sequence, which was the section West sampled. The American rapper and producer then slowed down and loosened the rhythm, and overdubbed pulsating synths, evocative rapping and singing, transforming a robotic feel into something much more soulful.

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Inside Track: Justin Bieber, Purpose

Josh Gudwin has been Bieber’s sidekick for half a decade. The engineer and mixer has enjoyed a fairly meteoric career, studying at Florida’s Full Sail University during 2005-2006, interning at Track Records Studio in LA, working with songwriter Esther Dean, and most of all studying for two years with America’s number one vocal producer, Kuk Harrell. In the process Gudwin clocked up an array of big-name credits, including TI, Lionel Richie, T-Pain, Quincy Jones, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Carly Rae Jepsen, Celine Dion and Pharrell Williams. However, his first meeting with Bieber in 2010 proved the most significant of his career to date, and Gudwin has since worked with Bieber on studio, remix and compilation albums like Under The Mistletoe, Never Say Never: The Remixes, Believe, Believe Acoustic, Journals, and Live At Madison Square Garden.

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