NBA Youngboy making signs with his fingers

How to Mix Your Vocals Like NBA YoungBoy - Mixing Guide

When we think of modern rap vocals, one of the first names that pops up in our head is most likely NBA YoungBoy. His vocal style mixes gritty emotion with a polished sound. Many emerging artists try to emulate his unique style. This guide explains the steps to mix your vocals like NBA YoungBoy.

Get your Recording Setup Right

You don't need the top-of-the-line gear to sound like NBA YoungBoy. What you need is a gear that you can use to capture any inspiration that may strike your mind. Focus on getting good takes instead of being obsessed with gear. 

YoungBoy prefers the UAD Sphere microphone to add brightness and air to his vocals. It shines a light on the energetic delivery style that he is known for. If you have a naturally bright voice like YoungBoy, consider a slightly darker microphone to balance it. You can go for any microphone that brings out the clarity of your voice. Focus on getting a great performance. Capture the energy on your vocals. Get multiple takes until you are satisfied. 

Add Channel Strip Emulation

A channel strip emulation plugin to your vocal track simulates the recording sound through a high-end analog console. The Brit 4K emulation, modeling an SSL 4000 series console, is often used for YoungBoy's vocals. It adds a slight coloration to the recording, which helps the vocal tracks in the mix sound cohesive.

Clean up the Vocals

Apply a de-esser to control sibilance. It prevents the vocals from becoming harsh or piercing. Adjust the threshold until you hear the sibilance being tamed without affecting the tone of the vocals. A broadband de-esser helps control sibilance. Follow up with a frequency-specific de-esser to target problem areas. The harsh "s" and "sh" sounds have no place in your track. 

Keep an eye on your levels throughout the mixing process. Proper gain staging helps maintain clarity. It prevents distortion as well. Noise reduction can remove any background hiss or room tone. Use volume automation to keep the vocals at the right level throughout the song. It is often more effective than trying to do everything with compression.

Play Around with EQ

YoungBoy's vocals mix stand out with a good amount of body. The presence of his larger-than-life vocal can be achieved through some clever EQ techniques. Boost the low mids of your track to add fullness to the voice. Reduce high-mid boosts and use less aggressive EQ cuts for a fuller sound. 

A gentle high-shelf boost brings air to the vocal track. Cut out any muddy frequencies that you find distracting. The best way to do it is by cutting the problem frequencies by increasing presence. An aggressive compression can even out the dynamics. Remove any harshness in the mix. Use your ears and adjust based on the specific vocal you're working with. The goal is a full-bodied sound without harshness.

You can use a parallel EQ plugin for both lows and highs simultaneously. It helps you achieve the characteristic sound that NBA YoungBoy is famous for. 

Shape the Tone

Add some saturation to bring warmth and extra harmonics to the vocal. It helps the vocal cut through the mix. Use your preferred analog-modeling saturation plugin. Start with a low mix and adjust to taste. See that you have enough space for the vocals. You can adjust the arrangement if the vocal has no room to shine. It adds a polished sheen to your vocals.

Control Dynamics

You cannot miss compression if you want to sound like YoungBoy. His engineer compresses the sound in two stages. In the first stage, use a transparent compressor. A good idea is to use an opto-style compressor. Experiment with different gain reductions. It will help you smooth out the performance without sounding overly processed. Try different settings until you are completely satisfied. Go for different ratios and attack. 

The second stage includes further compression to add character to the recording. It helps lift the quieter parts of the performance. Be careful not to overdo it. You will want to keep the grittiness of the track intact. Don't over-process and remove all the characters from the performance.

Add Space and Depth

Multiple reverbs can help create a sense of space in the mix. Short room reverb makes your vocals soar. Mix it with plate reverb to bring in a new dimension. Slap delays can help you add depth without obvious echoes.

Keep the mix low on both of these effects. Aim for something barely noticeable when soloed. It helps the vocal fit into the track when everything is playing. 

While recording, you can loop the live track with these effects into your headphones. It will give you a clear picture of how the finished track will sound like. 

Insert a stereo widening plugin or doubler on your vocal bus. Play around with settings to add width without causing phase issues. It can be achieved using a doubler effect. 

Match the Beat

The record will sound phenomenal only when the vocal sits properly in the beat. You can use sidechain compression so the vocal doesn't sound too jarring or hard to listen to. Adjust the vocal level relative to the beat. Refer to your favorite track from YoungBoy for proper balance. Check for tonal balance. Pay attention to how the vocals sit relative to the instrumentation. Balance the clarity of the track with the grit in the performance. 

Mixing vocals like NBA YoungBoy is about balancing technical skill with artistic vision. The goal is to create a professional vocal sound that maintains the performance's energy and emotion. Trust your ears! Adjust your mix based on the specific vocal you're working with. 

If you want to get the desired sound with minimal effort, our vocal presets and sample pack might be your golden ticket. You can check out our NBA YoungBoy Vocal Preset! It is crafted using stock plugins to work with your favorite DAW. Just load it and see your sound soar to new heights!