The making of TITS
The Incredible True Story is densely populated with live instruments -- guitar, bass, drums, grand pianos, horns, strings, and flutes all appear within the album's sonic universe. Logic and 6ix's basic formula while creating TITS was 1) construct a song's foundation at their home studio, then 2) head to the "real" studio where they had a bevy of session musicians at their disposal. "Really we wanted to be musical and make it even more grand," he says.
We have assembled a sort of verbal liner notes for the TITS songs 6ix produced below.
On "Upgrade," 6ix subtly doffs his cap to J Dilla the man who first inspired 6ix's passion for hip hop by sampling the same placid wail (from "Clair," by '70s jazz vocal group The Singers Unlimited) that Dilla sampled on Slum Village's "Players."
"That’s a Dilla sample that I’ve always loved and wanted to flip ever since I heard it," 6ix says. "I heard that band was really hard to clear. And we sampled them twice on the album."
The high art form of sampling is cursed by the fact that samples frequently rob producers of 75 to 100% of publishing royalties. On "Like Woah," 6ix recreated a section of John Cameron's 1973 "Liquid Sunshine" so that he didn't have to pay royalties.
"'Like Woah,' that’s complete interpolation, there’s no master sample in that song," 6ix explains. "I had the sample that I was super inspired by, there was a couple drums underneath that made it kinda muddy and the quality of the song wasn't great. it’s an old song. So it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be."
He figured out the guitar part by himself and enlisted Steve Wyreman, who does all the guitar parts for No I.D., Kanye West, and Big Sean, to lay down the guitar that appears on the final recording. As for the flute -- “That was a live flautist from the Bay. We hit him up, and like 40 minutes later, he sent it back with the perfect replay.”
6ix accompanies Logic on all his tours. His job: to make beats all day and record with Logic in their makeshift studio in the back of the tour bus. His greatest tour accomplishment to date is the creation of the beat for "Young Jesus," a thundering boom bap '90s throwback that contains the sort of rare intangible intensity that also exists in Mobb Deep's "Shook Ones Pt. II."
He made the beat while backstage in San Antonio. "Those green rooms had like Dark Side of the Moon rugs, these Hindu rug on the wall," he says. "I was just back there cookin’, I was feeling the energy.” There he came across a crucial James Blake vocal sample from one of Blake's songs with RZA. Unable to contact the notoriously reclusive Blake, 6ix ended up clearing the song by way of RZA. "He pulled some strings," 6ix says. "It was fucking awesome.
A serene journey through the self conceived in the spirit of J Dilla and To Pimp a Butterfly, "Innermission" derives its character from its silky jazz electric piano harmonies laid down by Raphael Saadiq’s 19-year nephew Dylan Wiggins.
"He’s like a prodigy," 6ix says. "We were just in the studio one night, we had a couple hours just to kill. I had these drums and a bassline. I was like, 'Yo, I really want to add some shit to this.' And then Logic came the next day. He was like, 'Yooo, I need this.'"
The undisputed highlight of the TITS recording sessions was a 10-day trip to Hawaii. Logic, 6ix, and their team rented out a mansion. When they weren't hooping on the backyard basketball courts or motoring around the grounds on golf carts, they were making music in their makeshift studio. The trip to Hawaii produced five songs, including "Lord Willin'", "Never Been" "Run It," and the TITS outro.
While 6ix outsourced much of the guitarwork on the album to Wyreman, he played himself the methodical guitar riff that forms the spine of "Lord Willin'." The riff splays out into a four-part textured layer cake on the song's chorus. He recorded the final version of the riff on a Les Paul in No i.D.'s studio, which is stocked with vintage amps and pedals.
CITY OF STARS
6ix names "City of Stars" as favorite song on TITS. Expansive and cinematic, it is more closely aligned with the album's interstellar space concept than any other song on the album.
"I feel like ['City of Stars'] is the most different song that we’ve ever done," he says. "I just remember being in my room at home just making that – having that kick and the four to floor and then having those chords over it. I was in a space where I just wanted to do something totally different and musical. More than rap, bigger than rap, you know? Musically I feel like I really pushed myself."
THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY/OUTRO
TITS ends with the two-part title track "The Incredible True Story" co-produced by 6ix and Aftermath in-house producer DJ Khalil. "Khalil he sent us that beat, we were like, 'Woahhh, this is crazy!!' 6ix says.
If 6ix has a role model, it is clearly producers like Khalil who have managed to carve out careers in production without sacrificing artistic integrity.
They don’t give a fuck about anything," he says. "They just make the music they want to make, and it shows. Just being around those guys, I learned just how to be free, how to not care, take risks and put yourself out there. That’s all that matters."