I have not come to this point lightly, but finally I must make a pointed and public case against Donnie Trumpet.
Donnie, while an exceptional talent on his aforementioned trumpet, is ruining some of the best music coming out of Chicago.
It started with Surf and the immense problems with the mixing of that album. Then it snuck onto Coloring Book, the first song with Kanye West should be awesome. It isn’t, the mixing of Kanye’s vocals is uncharacteristically bad for a man that had “Stronger” mixed over 75 times until it was right. I was in disbelief the first time I heard it, how Kanye? How Chance? How could you let this be heard publicly? Kanye’s vocals are possibly the loudest thing on the entire album. Thankfully it didn’t permeate the entire album, but the mixing on the rest of the album wasn’t good for such a high profile album. (If you want to hear fantastic mixing and mastering listen to Beyoncé’s Lemonade.)
Most recently though frequent Chance collaborator Jamila Woods released Heavn. A fantastic album worth a listen. It unfortunately has a song with a Donnie Trumpet, “Breadcrumbs”. It is easily the weakest song on the album and I know it’s Donnie’s fault. His trumpet playing is the third loudest thing on the record, Jamila’s voice being first and the bass being second. What’s so infuriating is the potential for the song, this could have been the song that sets her live shows on fire. Unfortunately because of the mixing and boring arrangement - most likely from Donnie being too heavily involved with the post-production work - the song falls flat.
Here is my vision for what could have been. The intro stays the same structure, but the drums are removed, it is almost all a cappella except for the horn stabs when she repeats “eighty-nine”. Where the bass drops in stays the same, but since the drums are not in the intro there is a few beats of silence, then I would love to hear more aggressive heavy on the backbeat type of drums. Someone I think would be the perfect person to perform it would be the drummer from St. Paul and The Broken Bones. He is an extremely tight drummer, but more so than that I think he would bring some funk to this record and a completely different feeling. The bass would come down slightly in the mix to let the drums shine. The trumpet wouldn’t be so effect heavy or so loud. There would be a more definite transition into the chorus, to make it more effective. The 30 second instrumental as it is would be gone, and the song would end a chorus earlier. Then when it is performed live the time before the chorus could be built up longer and then everything could drop in heavy.
This is a vendetta that I must see to either the end of my life or the end of the mistakes being made. I can no longer stand for the sub par mixing and what seems like taking of creative control from the artists that comes from Donnie Trumpet feature. I think possibly the easiest way to solve this would be to record his parts then make him leave, give him no real say in the mixing or the arrangement of other people’s music. Donnie I’m begging you stop it. The music that you touch deserves better than this.
by Addison Garry (@addisonagarry)