iZotope Sessions: Latrell James

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Latrell James Photo by Niklas Weikert

For Boston-based rapper and hip-hop producer Latrell James, experience is everything.

Experience means volunteering to teach kids music production at a local after-school program. It means making a career in music happen by creating multiple revenue streams, like licensing a song for a nationally syndicated Cheerios commercial, on top of touring and producing beats for other artists. It also means struggling to process family tragedies like his mother's breast cancer and expressing them through his music, however trying it might be.

Whether you're a budding producer, mix engineer, or musician, experience is everything. That's why we created iZotope Sessions, a series that lets you practice music production and mixing skills by downloading the session files of an artist's song and following along with a tutorial video.

In this edition we're featuring “Okay” by Latrell James, a single off of his forthcoming 2018 album. To get the full experience, follow these steps:

  1. Listen to the full song embedded below.
  2. Watch Part 1 of the two-part video series to get to know Latrell James.
  3. Download the session files for "Okay" below and open them in your DAW.
  4. Watch Part 2 and follow along as iZotope Lead Product Specialist Geoff Manchester teaches you mixing and mastering techniques using RX 6Neutron 2, and Ozone 8 (free trial demos available).

In this tutorial, learn five essential audio repair, mixing, and mastering tips.

1: Detect and clean-up issues in the lead vocal 

Geoff demonstrates how to identify and remove problematic issues hiding in a vocal take before moving on to further topline mixing. Using RX 6, you’ll learn how to spot plosives in the spectrogram, and then remove them effortlessly with the De-plosive module. Taking care of problems early in the mixing process for the topline vocal will ensure they won’t get unpleasantly highlighted when you add any dynamics processing further into the mixing process.

2: Organize low-end elements in a hip-hop mix 

Geoff shows you how to experiment with Neutron’s hi-pass EQ slopes and flexible sidechain system to untangle bass and kick in this hip hop session, all while keeping an eye on Tonal Balance Control’s metering tools to confidently manage the track’s overall low-end profile. 

3: Visually mix vocal harmonies

Geoff shows you how to instantly audition unique vocal harmony scenarios by controlling the panning, loudness and width for each vocal layer in Neutron 2’s Visual Mixer. 

4: Jump-start the lead vocal

Geoff uses a combination of Neutron 2, Nectar 2, Bomb Factory’s BF76 and Ozone’s Vintage Tape to quickly integrate a vocal into a busy mix. 

5: Use EQ mastering techniques to translate the music across listening environments

Geoff uses Ozone 8 and Tonal Balance Control to pinpoint and tackle all too common frequency problems that would otherwise prevent a track from sounding great on all playback systems.

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