I naturally started producing and making beats without any training, just trial and error

By Maria Winter

GOKP Beats, or the wizard behind the name, has pioneered hip-hop by dropping beats that break the rules. The self-taught rapper, producer, and DJ from Kuwait has been analysing the music scene for many years – capturing the attention of crowds, discovering new techniques, and working with local artists to help get their music heard.

Yet, his own music is a true emotive force to be reckoned with. Released in March of this year, his most recent single, ‘Love Is a Battlefield Beat,’ revolves around the spontaneity of love, the unexpected realities of relationships to which many can relate. By using certain setbacks throughout his early career as fuel for new paths, GOKP Beats emphasises the importance of persistence in creative development, and his music reflects that.

How has your journey from Kuwait to Maryland influenced your music style and approach to producing beats?

“Well, I came to the States when I was 8 years old in 1996 and never went back. My musical touch from the Middle East doesn’t play a big spot in my style but my mother was from Indonesia and inspired me with her wide range of musical tastes. She loved house music and hip-hop, and that’s what drove me with inspiration growing up making hip-hop sample beats and using old-school house/techno music to make beats from.” 

Can you share a pivotal moment when you realised your passion for music production and decided to pursue it as a career?

“It started when I was a rapper. Me and my friends would always freestyle in my studio which at the time was an actual shed that we converted into a dope hangout with couches and TVs and all that jazz. We would just freestyle over beats and one day I came up with this idea to record our freestyles with a tape recorder. I eventually figured out a way from a boom box to dub each recording with layers of adlibs and hooks by playing the recording via cassette on one side and recording the playback with another cassette on the 2nd tape slot. From there, it just started going uphill, especially once I got my hands on a computer and a DAW. I essentially just naturally started producing and making beats without any training, just trial and error.”

What specific techniques or elements do you incorporate into your beats to infuse them with raw urban energy and nostalgic flavors?

“I love making each beat special and different. It’s a case-by-case situation where one beat, I may play with the hi-hats a lot and incorporate a twist within snares. I like fusing live instruments sometimes with 808’s, and hip-hop drums. I tend to have a special drop I add in certain beats which is a kick snare type of roll. I do enjoy playing around with the bass too – leaving them heavy at times but giving them depth.”

You mention learning various skills like graphic design and DJing to promote your music. How have these additional skills contributed to your overall artistic vision and career trajectory?

“From the DJing aspect of things, it’s helped me to structure songs and understand how to give each track its own unique final mix. For instance, where the beat drops, or adding an extra kick here or there and sound effects if needed. It’s helped me develop another ear for polishing mixes and taking tracks to a new level rather than just a simple mix. My artistic vision comes to life when creating music in many aspects. I can visualize tracks from beginning to end with a sense of what the cover art would look like and the colours it would have. Also, having a visual perspective of how the music video or how an animated visual could play into a track. I have been able to help artists bring their ideas to life and help them express their ideas through a project.”

Given your dedication to creating new sounds and not following trends exactly, how do you stay inspired and innovative in your music production process?

“I use many different ways to stay inspired but the main important one is not listening to anything mainstream or keeping up with what’s hot. Some of my music can be timeless and still be relevant to the listener because I am not so much basing my beats off the same producer kits or synths or samples. I use everyday life to stay inspired and the people around me and a few artists that I work with currently that drive me to find new ways to stand out.”

Your bio mentions that your beats come from raw emotions. How do you translate these emotions into your music, and what role does storytelling play in your beats?

“I tend to release the energy I feel at the time. You can grasp the sentiment with my beats as soon as you hear the melody. I create some of my best work when I’m actually going through life events – whether I am happy or sad or angry. I will incorporate the drums or bass to match the strength of the emotion. Sometimes, storytelling comes along with the beat build-up and timeline. I can change a certain part of the beat to change within the beat to give it a different feeling to match if the mood has changed.”

What message or feeling do you hope listeners experience when they hear your beats, and how do you navigate balancing personal expression with connecting with your audience?

“The music will speak for itself for each listener. Stumble on a certain beat and a certain sound will speak to you. I’ve had people listen to the same beat over and over again and tell me that they feel the emotion and that it has helped them to overcome certain feelings they couldn’t explain. I hope this inspires or soothes others to see that my music can speak in various ways to the soul.”

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