The value of excellent production is often overlooked by mainstream listeners. Many people could sing every word to a song, but tell you very little about the track supporting it. There are plenty of beats out there that take over a song, and thus elicit countless remixes with other rappers using the track (check out Lil Wayne’s garbage mixtape, Dedication 4 for some examples of recycled beats)
Artists don’t necessarily want the beat to take over the song, rather they want it to complement their vocals and enhance them just enough to make the whole thing a masterpiece. The best producers can be compared to composers, constructing multiple layers of a track in a way that catches the attention of the listener, but doesn’t steal it entirely. To do this, for years, many artists have turned to the always-loved piano track.
The most well-known and well-respected artists have often taken advantage of the piano tracks to create some of their best songs. From 2Pac’s Changes, to Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind, to Kid Cudi’s Pursuit of Happiness, these tracks complement the song just enough to make it great, while still allowing the words to get stuck in your head. Probably the best known use of the piano was Nas’ sampling of Beethoven’s Fur Elise in I Can, which is arguably one of his greatest works.
More recently, we heard Kanye West’s less than subtle use of the piano in his hit single and short film, Runaway:
The piano track will always be around in hip hop, steadily contributing to some of our favorite songs. Here are a few recent songs from up-and-coming artists that take advantage of this useful supplement: