Case Study: The Making of SZA's 'Forgiveless'

Grammy award winning producer Rodney Jerkins was hit with inspiration when he found a 25-year-old VHS tape of Ol'Dirty Bastard (Wu Tang Clan). He used AudioShake to extract vocal stems and samples of the late rapper's perfomance for SZA's "Forgiveless."

I was digitizing a bunch of my footage for a documentary that I’m working on, and I came across this VHS tape from 1998 that had ODB. He was in my studio and I didn’t have a session with him, he just was passing through and he just started rapping about a hundred bars. And as I was listening to it, I was like, ‘I wonder if I could take his vocal off of this VHS tape – and get rid of the track that was in there – and put it on top of this idea for SZA?'

I took the VHS, turned it into audio, put it through AudioShake, and then just pulled hthe vocals out. And time it to my track, and I went back and played it for SZA and she was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where did you get this from?’ And the rest was history."

– Rodney Jerkins, Producer

Rodney Jerkins, also known by his stage name Darkchild, is a Grammy award winning producer who has worked with artists like  Mary J. Blidge, Justin Bieber, and Lady Gaga. Most recently, he helped produce SZA's latest, chart-topping album "SOS" including songs "Shirt" and "Forgiveless."

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Rodney Jerkins revealed the production behind "Forgiveless" included finding a decades old VHS tape of the late Ol'Dirty Bastard (ODB) of Wu Tang Clan. After hearing the tape back, the producer thought it would be the right sample for SZA, but needed to extract just the vocals of OBD off the existing backing track. Using AudioShake, Jerkins was able to separate the vocal and instrumental stems and utilize the iconic rapper's performance in this number-one album.