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SO dope! Rising Sophomore Nate Counts Has Beat Published in Prominent Hip-Hop Magazine

Photo of Seattle Academy student Nate Counts 24 Digital Music Program 2021

Nate Counts ’24 is a rising sophomore who not only dabbles in beat making — he gained recognition from XXL Magazine for a Lil Uzi Vert beat he produced. In the realms of hip-hop and rap music, this is a big deal. Since posting his first beat on YouTube fifteen months ago, Nate has published over 85 beats on his channel, Prod.Nate, gathering over 6.44k subscribers so far. His beat titled “Fly” featured in XXL Magazine has received 1,172,869 views. While Nate has played guitar for ten years and drums for a few, he has only been making beats for a little under two years. Nate’s latest success points to him being a natural, with a little help from Seattle Academy’s Music Production department. 

When Nate entered 8th grade, he swapped out his band kid status for Music Production class. SAAS has a robust music program, including instrumental, vocal, and digital music production offerings with advanced options available in both the middle and upper school. The Music Production classes are run by Josh Brown, Paris Randall, and Amos Miller

Nate’s early introduction to music production is something of a rare gem, as the music production program has only been around since the fall of 2016-17. It is a popular program, with averages of 200 students participating each year, and growing, due in no small account to the teachers who run it. In this instance, Amos was influential in Nate’s outset. “Amos is a really good mentor and supports me,” states Nate. “I often send him music that I make and he gives feedback. He has also been really helpful in getting me started on music production in middle school.” 

This versed and funky-fresh producer, teacher, and music-aficionado that Nate speaks of tells us a bit more about what the program offers: 

Kids get an opportunity to explore the music that they listen to. We listen as a class and learn how music is produced, arranged and recorded. The curriculum aims to demystify the creative process that lies behind making the songs they hear and like. Once we identify what is happening and how it is being created, they learn the studio basics of how to create something similar. The idea is for students to then use the skills they learn and apply the sounds they are hearing to create their own original music.

The program started as an after school club in 2016 and quickly became of interest to many students at SAAS. The 2021-22 school year will offer nine Music Production classes, three 8th-grade blocks, five upper school blocks of Music Production I & II, and it will also be the first year of the Advanced Music Production class called SAAS Records. SAAS Records is an audition-based yearlong cohort aimed to bring music into the community and empower communities in need.

SAAS Records is bound to be a productive production class, though Nate reports that for the most part he makes his prolific beat catalogue at home. One of his beats, a Lil Uzi Vert beat titled “Fly,” was published in XXL Magazine in April of this year. XXL Magazine is a well-established hip-hop news and rap music magazine, with a wide audience base. Nate breaks down why he was featured, and what some of these industry-specific terms actually mean:

XXL did an article about Lil Uzi Vert type beats. [Lil Uzi Vert, a music artist,] has a really unique sound, with influences from EDM [electronic dance music] and other electronic music. The article featured some popular beats from various producers on YouTube. XXL did not contact me directly, but likely found my beat on YouTube. Beats are used in almost all genres of music but the beats I create are designed for rap/hip-hop music. Beats provide the rhythm and structure for a song while other elements provide vocals.

Type beats are instrumental tracks created by producers in the style and feel of a particular rap artist. The producer creates the beat and the rapper crafts the vocal track. In this article, Nate and other producers composed beats in the style of Lil Uzi Vert, a multi-platinum American rapper known for his unique sound and style, fusing EDM and other digital-inspired elements. 

How Nate creates beats involves a computer program called FL Studio. It is a paid DAW (digital audio workstation) used by many producers and musicians. “You could think of it as a more specialized version of GarageBand,” explains Nate. “The first step to making a beat is opening  up FL Studio and finding a sound through a VST (virtual studio technology) like Serum, Keyscape or ElectraX that I like.” 

Nate publishes beats and sound kits on YouTube, which is likely how XXL Magazine stumbled upon his music, and he uses BeatStars to sell beats online to artists. 

“My plan going forward is to continue making beats and sending out sample packs to other producers. I’m also working on collaborating with artists to release more music on streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music,” says Nate of his plans for next year. “I also plan to continue taking Music Production at Seattle Academy.” 

To follow Nate’s beats, check out his YouTube channel.

Or his BeatStars marketplace.