Aziz the Shake has big plans for his next album. The rapper has been writing and recording music since his teen years, and first stepped into a studio at his high school in Connecticut. Since then the Boston-based artist has recorded tracks at studios in and around the city, and has seen the full breadth of what the area has to offer. These days, however, he produces most of his music at home with his own equipment. However, with the chance to step into the brand new Converse Rubber Tracks Studio to record some tracks, production for his next release just took a step up.
To say the studio is luxurious is almost an understatement. When not recording artists can relax in the company’s community break room, which has a coffee bar and feels like the kind of super hip office space that I thought only existed in movies. The inside of the studio is equally high in quality. The leather couches and cinematic view of the Zakim bridge aside, it is fully equipped to record all genres of music. “It’s so quiet in that room,” Aziz says with a laugh, pointing to the paneled room where he was laying down vocals earlier. “I’ve never been in a more quiet room.”
Aziz the Shake is a local artist, but his session is part of an initiative from Converse to record with international artists. “Over the years, Converse Rubber Tracks has evolved into a global music program that provides aspiring artists from around the world the opportunity to unleash their creative spirits,” explains Global Marketing Director Jed Lewis. “This global studio takeover is the first of it’s kind, opening doors to 12 iconic recording studios.” The permanent Rubber Tracks studio in Boston has seen a variety of artists over the past two weeks, and from Nashville to South Korea artists have traveled to take advantage of the free studio time.
It’s a generous proposition, and it allows artists from all over the world the opportunity to share their perspective. With his session, Aziz wants young people to hear his message of positivity. “Free reign is my thing, that’s my train of thought,” Aziz explains. “Free reign over your mind. Every day you wake up you choose your perspective and how you look at things – that’s the only thing you’ve really got control about. My songs vary from serious to more lighthearted stuff, but at the end of the day there’s going to be a message, there’s going to be some medicine in the candy.”
Aziz came to the studio today with the rhymes and beats written, and was hoping to get at least four tracks recorded. The recordings will be added to his album Sunroof Vision, a project he hopes to work on and complete over the next year. At hand to help was producer Dave Minehan, who is a musician in his own right and currently a guitar player for The Replacements. Though his background is primarily in rock, he finds his approach does not change as he transitions between genres. “When you’re working with an artist you’re always deferring to them, and usually you’re on the same page” Minehan says. “I’m not a my way or the highway kind of a producer.”
The days’ recordings have been going well, and Aziz seems to trust his music is in good hands. In the past, he has struggled with striking a balance between bars and melody and hook, but feels he has finally landed in a good place. “It’s impressive that you can put words together and have wordplay, but a lot of people can do it. To differentiate yourself you have to be able to put a song together,” Aziz explains. “You have to be able to put words together in a way that they’ll want to sing it, or in a way that’s going to catch.” With the fully-stocked studio at his disposal, the rapper should be able to find this perfect formula.