A Recording Connection collaboration seeks to change the hip-hop game in Los Angeles



Here’s a classic example of how you can make life-changing connections by learning on-the-job: two Recording Connection students meet at their mentor’s studio in Los Angeles, and form a hip-hop duo that aims to redefine the genre!

The connection was first instigated by Recording Connection mentor Donny Baker of ES Audio in Glendale, CA, who felt like one of his graduates, Tanner Bjorklund, would mesh well with his current master’s student Rodolfo Lopez. “There’s this kid who is pretty good at rapping,” he told Rodolfo. “Maybe you should record with him.”

Almost from the moment Tanner stepped into the studio to work with Rodolfo, it was apparent something important was happening. “We recorded one song,” says Rodolfo, “and I said to myself, ‘This kid has potential.’”

Meanwhile, Tanner, a gifted teenage rapper, had already graduated from the Recording Connection and had been struggling to engineer his own recordings in his home in Temecula. He was likewise awed by Rodolfo’s ability. “I was doing all my own engineering,” he said. “It’s hard to do it all on your own, trying to be an artist and manage all the other stuff.”

So instant was the connection that when Tanner invited Rodolfo to move to Temecula, Rodolfo didn’t think twice. The two built a studio in Tanner’s house and began working every day in the studio, along with Tanner’s producer, Mindstate. Before long, the duo had adopted the name “Clever Empire,” and in July 2015 they released their first EP!

“The album is The Future’s Present,” says Tanner, “which means the future is now. The picture is actually me unwrapping a present that says ‘future’ on it.”

With Tanner at the mic and Rodolfo engineering, the pair that now call themselves Clever Empire add up to more than they were on their own. Tanner says, “Rudy records me and he engineers it, and it’s better than I’ve known how to do it…What we are getting is sounding really professional.”

Rodolfo’s feelings toward his musical partner are mutual. “Hip-hop, where it is now, it’s so repetitive,” he says. “All they talk about is women, money and drugs…The reason I really like Tanner’s flow is because he raps about real events…He questions life in his raps, you know, like very underground hip-hop and raw lyrics, and you don’t really hear that anymore.”

When you apprentice (extern) on-the-job in a real recording studio, you can make connections that have a direct impact on your future career. Meeting through their mentor, Rodolfo and Tanner are living proof.