Why The Music On “Black Dynamite” Sounds So Good…And Familiar [EXCLUSIVE]

BD-Roscoes Chicken

Fatin “10” Horton, Music Director for “Black Dynamite” the animated series, tells WatchLOUD how he freaks the Funk

I serve as the Music Supervisor, Composer, and Editor for the show. I’m responsible for scoring and picking all cues and their placement, editing them to fit the scene in time and action, and composing anything original we do for the show. Carl (Jones) and I have actually known each other for years, with both of us being from North Carolina, and we worked together on Season Two of “The Boondocks.” He’s always supported me, followed and been a fan of my work, even before we got to work together. He and my other good brother LeSean Thomas were the two that lobbied Aaron (McGruder) to have me as a part of the Boondocks and get my foot in the television door. Gotta shout him out because the creative weight that he lifts on the show is huge.

Apart from his show runner duties, he also does a lot of voiceover in the show. He did both of the voices in the community town meeting;the one for slavery and the one against. Not only that, he took a gamble on giving me such a huge role and responsibility in a show that has so much music. I’m eternally grateful for his vote of confidence and his creative vision/leadership.

“Hey, that sounds like so-and-so, but you’re saying it’s not…”

BD race riot

The music for the show is based in parody and sound-alikes. They’re versions that invoke the spirit of the original, but compositionally are different and when there are lyrics, as in the case of parody, have to meet certain legal guidelines to qualify. The cue that you’re referring to is a sound-a-like. Sometimes it’s pre-scripted that a sound-a-like of a particular song go in a scene, so it’s my job to compose it. I have a formula that I use to insure that we’re legally safe in melody. From there I sit with Zo of +FE Music, who I hired as my instrumentalist for almost all the live cues I used in the show, and rebuild the songs. I let him know where we want to go octave wise and what notes I wanna add, take out, bend, etc. From there he’ll play. A lot of times it’s like me sampling live. He may freestyle and I stop him and say ‘There, let’s take that chord progression and build.’ We continue to layer until I know it’s right legally and tonally for the scene. Sometimes it’s a little slow and we have to make it move a little faster than it’s inspiration to make it work against picture, as was the case with this particular cue. It’s a meticulous process, but when you work with talented people, it makes it so much easier. That’s the gist of how the cues are created.

“But for real, this song I heard in the show sounds JUST like the song that somebody sampled…”

You’ll probably get that a lot this season. That [song you are thinking of] is not an original cue. [in that scene at Roscoe’s] it’s a library cue I placed there. Now, I can’t say that it wasn’t sampled for [redacted] but that was in our library and honestly, that song never crossed my mind. We have a library of a bunch of 70s cues that I used to score what we didn’t earmark for original composition. There’s a lot of dope stuff in the library. I could’ve made a TON of beats off of it. It’s just a totally different mind and ear when you have to put it to picture. So much dope stuff I WANTED to place, but it just didn’t work against picture.

“Now you’ve produced songs for Lloyd Banks, Pharoahe Monch, Phonte Coleman and more, but  don’t you get confused and sh*t doing it for TV and sh*t??”

BD Woody Allen

It’s honestly very similar and different at the same time. Similar in that you have to capture a certain mood and emotion, but different because it has to match picture AND help move the story forward. That makes the decision making process on what cue works with what picture a totally different ball game. Television is FAR more meticulous than doing records because after the composition, there’s so much that needs to be done edit wise, and then if you’re dealing with parody, satire, sound-a-like etc, you have to take the legal into consideration with composition. A score is a big jigsaw puzzle in my mind, just like writing a movie script is. You just have to kinda make all the pieces fit and not force square pegs in a round hole. A television show or a movie can be greatly enhanced by great music, but the backbone of it all is the story, and the music must fall in line with that or it’s a fail and won’t work, no matter how great the music of a cue may sound and how beautifully it’s composed.

Black Dynamite season 2 airs Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. on Adult Swim.

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