What DAW Does Kanye Use?

Kanye West often does not use a DAW when making music. He uses hardware for sampling, writing, and adding beats. However, he and his team have been seen using both Pro Tools and FL Studio for recording.

“I don’t use a computer or a lot of equipment in my studio.” These words were spoken by Kanye in an old interview.

Kanye is not a fan of computers or DAWs. He likes to keep his simple old-school way of following the analog-style music production. Furthermore, for the production of some older tracks, he only used a sampling keyboard. After all, Kanye started producing music well before DAWs were as ubiquitous as they are today.

The footage from “The MC: Why We Do It: A Hip-Hop Documentary” shows a great moment when Kanye shows his skills creating a song with his sampling keyboard adding beats, and enjoying it. It is from the real production process of the song “Higher” by Do Or Die and Kanye West.

Kanye Prefers Making Music With Hardware

West learned music production in the mid-1990s when DAWs were around for a while but still were not that popular. That is why he prefers keeping things less digital and walking on the way he is familiar with. He likes to chop and use samples, especially from the 70’s soul, to create his tracks on which he can rap.

In the book “Kanye West in the Studio: Beats Down! Money Up!” he talks about his process of building up a song: “I sample them at regular speed, then speed them up inside the ASR-10. I just put the pitch up on the sampler, and it will go faster. The ASR-10 is like my left hand. A lot of old songs are too slow to rap on. So I got to speed them up to a rappable tempo.”

This is the so-called “Chipmunk Soul,” which is the hip-hop production style Kanye pioneered.

But of course, as time passed, he started using other gear for his production process. Besides the Ensoniq ASR-10 Keyboard, the hardware he used included Roland VS 1880 24-Bit Digital Audio Workstation, Gemini PT-1000 II Turntable, and Akai MPC2000 MIDI Production Center.

He Uses a DAW During the Recording Process

Like most musicians today, Kanye started using DAWs, at least for the recording phase of the production. Only after creating his tracks with the sampling keyboard, he processes them using Pro Tools. The aim here is to achieve the positive aspects the digital world brings, including the most important one, the maximum sound quality.

For example, for his debut studio album, “The College Dropout,” he sampled many different songs like “The Good The Bad The Ugly” by Dinah Washington and “Through The Fire” by Chaka Khan. He is really into 70’s soul music from which he creates his samples. 

He used his ASR-10 to sample the tracks, shift the pitch for making the songs faster and create his own beats. After all these processes, he used Pro Tools to record the tracks. So the DAW is actually there but not for production, just for recording.

Summary

Kanye West is not a big fan of creating everything “in the box” of a DAW. He prefers to use hardware, but like all types of music these days, a DAW is almost certainly used during the recording, mixing, and mastering process.

Kanye West – Featured Image by: Angel Laws from Jacksonville, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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