Recording Connection mentor Sheldon Ellerby Talks Mentorship and Hip Hop in Atlanta

Recording Connection mentor Sheldon EllerbySheldon Ellerby started his career operating in New Jersey and then New York prior to moving down to Atlanta, where he’s based today and is currently putting the wrap on something very big and very secret (as is often the case). Artists Sheldon’s worked with include Ludacris, Patti Labelle, and Anita Baker to name just a few. As a Recording Connection mentor, he’s focused on helping instruct the next generation of recording professionals out the aptly-named The Writer’s Room Studio.

When asked how he got into hip hop Sheldon tells us:

“I had an older brother who was real big into hip hop. He started buying albums from Boogie Down Productions, Rakim, LL Cool J, Public Enemy…I grew up in New Jersey, which is right next to New York. So we had New York radio, where a lot of the hip hop radio stations would be playing [hip hop]. We would record it on Friday and Saturday nights. That just put me in that mindset that music was what I wanted to do. After that, I had to understand how the process was done in order to create a record, a song, or a recording.”

We asked Sheldon for his thoughts on music in what has become one of the nations most prolific hip hop meccas:

Atlanta has run the hip hop sound for almost 10 years now. Atlanta has dictated the way hip hop has sounded…It’s been the driving force from Atlanta to New York to L.A. to, you know, all regions. So it’s really a good push. Me being a northern boy, being up from New Jersey, is, when you get in Atlanta you really see how there’s a sense of community. People are open arms and welcoming…If you come down here and you’ve got the talent and you can kind of mix in with certain people, people will give you the chance and the opportunity to see what you’ve got. And it allows a lot of people to prosper…It’s funny, I meet a lot of people that aren’t from Atlanta, in Atlanta, if that makes sense. So everybody’s coming here really trying to get a piece of the pie.”

Since Sheldon has helped numerous students find their way in the music industry, we wanted to know more about his own approach to mentorship:

My approach is really to give them an understanding on the principles of recording. I like to go back to not just the start, but to even eras where you had The Beatles, James Brown, the Motown era. Everybody has the same principles of recording, and we still use those principles to this day. I try to get people to understand that it’s more than just running a program. Anyone can push a couple buttons and say they’re engineers, but if you don’t know how to identify distortion, ‘Am I getting a good signal?’ or ‘What mic should I use?’ ‘Does this mic complement his vocal tone?’…I get into helping them build a real foundation and understand they how’s and why’s of what they’re doing…

What drives me more than anything is passion. The passion to learn, always wanting to know more. One thing I really pass onto a lot of the students is never stop learning. You have to continue to learn, because everything is always like a constant evolution with the technology.”

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