Rappers usually get most of the shine in hip-hop. And rightfully so; it’s called rap music for a reason. However, it’s the ones putting in work on their instruments, DAWs, and even iPhones that tie everything together, allowing our favorite vocalists to sound as good as they do. With that in mind, here’s a list of five rising producers who are making waves in the industry, often without saying a word.
Steve Lacy’s on his way to being the one of the most sought-after producers in hip hop, and he’s doing it all from his iPhone. Since co-executive producing The Internet’s last album Ego Death in 2015, Lacy’s made beats for J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and Twenty88. Not to mention his solo project, Steve Lacy’s Demo, that’s making waves in just 13 minutes of runtime.
Lacy’s been in high school for most of his music career, and got his big break after joining the jazz band in freshman year. There, he met Jameel Bruner, then-keyboardist for The Internet, and eventually started playing and recording songs with the band. Having now graduated, Lacy’s starting to get his shine both as a bandmember and on his own. On Steve Lacy’s Demo, the brain behind much of Ego Death takes center stage on a trippy setlist full of funk. “Some,” one of the standout tracks, sees the 18 year old building a groovy melody over his signature grunge drums. Expect to hear a lot more Steve Lacy going forward, whether it’s on his own, with his band, or behind the boards for your favorite rapper.
It’s hard to get paid in the music industry as a rapper, and it’s even harder as a producer. Just ask Teddy Walton, a rising producer out of Memphis. Even after producing “LOVE.” by Kendrick Lamar, a song nearing 100 million plays on Spotify (as of mid June), Walton described himself as essentially “homeless” out in Los Angeles in a recent interview with Complex.
While producers’ typical lack of compensation is an issue on it’s own, it’s not due to any shortage of talent in Walton’s case. His booming, silky smooth sound appeared on four songs off Bryson Tiller’s True to Self, infusing 90’s R&B samples that fit wonderfully under Bryson’s vocals. On “Crew” by Goldlink, he speeds up the tempo to match the rapper’s “future bounce” style, creating an infectious groove impossible to resist. Further showing his versatility, his beats produced for A$AP Rocky (“L$D”, “Electric Body”) carry a darker, more brooding vibe. We’ll see what other projects he pops up on in 2017, hopefully once he’s managed to find a permanent residence.
Jay Z himself gave this producer’s biggest track yet a shoutout in a memorable twitter rant, so you could say things are going well for him. Pierre Bourne was the main producer on Playboi Carti’s self-titled album earlier this year, earning credits on six of the songs. The South Carolina native found a recipe for success with steady hi-hats over deep, resonating 808’s, and sticks to it while working with a number of buzzing rappers.
It doesn’t take long for Bourne to create an idea into existence, as he recently produced the “Free Smoke” beat for Uno The Activist in 20 minutes on Instagram live. As long as the people are rocking to it, there’s little reason to expect him to change.
To the untrained ear it would be nearly impossible to piece together as many mismatched, irregular sounds as Monte Booker does in a way that makes musical sense, but under his direction they all come together to form a beautiful out-of-tempo rhythm. The lead producer for Chicago’s hip hop collective Zero Fatigue, Booker’s unusual beats are propelling artists like Smino and Ravyn Lenae into the spotlight.
Booker’s also heavily involved in Soulection’s growing platform, and is slotted to perform at the first ever Soulection Experience in Los Angeles (Steve Lacy’s on the lineup too). Look out for Monte to make more nonsensical noise this year; it may be coming sooner than you think.
be on y'all soundcloud apps next week
— mon tea (@montebooker) June 13, 2017
The Chicago hip-hop scene is loaded with hungry young voices coming into their own, and THEMPeople are playing a major role in helping them break out. The quartet of producers has worked with Chance the Rapper dating back to 2012, and have also been heavily involved with Mick Jenkins, Smino, and Noname. Their watery, soothing production sets the stage for an array of vocalists, and is perfect for when you’re looking to mellow out.
Singer/producer theMIND, one of the group’s members, has been putting out an impressive catalogue of solo work along with his contributions to THEMpeople. His newest single “Ms. Communication” with Da-P is a fun, bouncy ode to missed signals in the modern dating world, and shows his strengths as a vocalist. Make sure you’ve heard his 2016 album Summer Camp, and keep him along with all of THEMpeople on your radar going forward.