by Roger Walk
Local hip-hop producer and entrepreneur Mike McGraw helps artists and producers around the world to network and create hip-hop music without ever seeing each other in person.
Modern hip-hop music often is the result of a creative process that happens on computers and involves contributors that don’t even know each other. Rappers collaborate with producers that provide the underlying instrumental “beats” and rhythms for their lyrics. Those beats are created on computers with keyboards, guitars, or other instruments as “input.” So rappers are constantly searching for producers that can provide them with beats and producers are in turn searching for beats that others have created and are willing to share. All this happens on the web and, local entrepreneur Mike McGraw has found an unoccupied niche as a global broker of beats for hip-hop productions.
McGraw’s tools are a laptop computer and his cell phone. He collects beats from an ever-growing network of “creators,” bundles them into mixed-tape “volumes” and makes them available to the online producer and rapper community online.
McGraw started his web service in April this year when he saw the need of such a networking tool when he wanted to offer his own beats to the producer community. He jumped in by starting his “Instrumental Infirmary” networking web site (http://www.instrumentalinfirmary.com/). He uses an established third-party website to distribute the compilation volumes. The first volume of beats in April was picked up by a few producers in the U.S. Since then, his phone and laptop has not stop receiving messages and material for the next compilation. At this time McGraw is issuing volume nine of his mixed tape series compilations to which more than 100 “creators” have contributed their beats and which more than 100 producers have downloaded from his website. In just four months his website was visited 22,000 and 1,500 times music was downloaded.
McGraw has a lot of followers to use the music material for their own work. When artists send McGraw their beats they agree that they will be made available to hundreds of producers for free and could end up eventually as part of a commercially successful hip-hop song. McGraw’s online networking service is free for all parties involved at this time, but he does not exclude that in future he will have to put this on a commercial platform in order to recover his cost.
McGraw went to college in North Carolina and came to Chester in 2000 following his father’s military service in Germany. Since then, he has been working as a government contractor on military logistics. In his spare time he runs the website service and enjoying the growth of his network. McGraw, who does not play an instrument or read music, also produces under the name “Krooked Smilez” beats by himself.
He uses a computer program and keyboard input he learned to apply five years ago. “My music is routed in classic rock and country music,” said McGraw. “Pink Floyd, Metallica, and ACDC are my most important influences.” Beside his full-time job as a contractor and his music brokerage, McGraw is also a basketball coach at Thomas Dale High School in Chester.
McGraw is not aware that beats from his compilations have been used in successful hip-hop productions, but he has heard that rappers have hired producers who contributed their beats through the network. So he has a good chance to become famous as a “matchmaker” in the worldwide hip-hop scene.