Being a producer has never been as cool as it is today. Yes, back in the day, we had the Dr Dres and the Timbalands, but majority of the time, the rapping was left for the rappers, and the producing was left for the producers. Yes, I know we had artists back in the day who produced and rapped i.e Pharrell, J Dilla etc., but in the age we live in now, the line between rappers and producers has become fainter than ever before.
In this current day and age, when we hear a song, we clamour and scramble to find out who produced the beat. Producers are enjoying a limelight now, that they have probably never experienced before; I honestly don’t think producers have ever been paid more attention than they are right now. With the rise of trap music in the last decade, trap producers such as 808 Mafia, Zaytoven etc have reaped the fruits of the successes of artists such as Gucci Mane, Future, TI etc. I also think we as music fans have come to appreciate them more; it’s rare for you to listen to a Metro Boomin produced song, and not sing along to his famous adlib; this is just symbolic of the rise in producers’ popularity.
What you also have now, is rappers who are on the come-up, have the ability of producing their own beats. The most famous rapper/producer is undoubtedly Kanye West, but he established his career as a producer even before he properly started his rap career. But I think as of recent, there has been a higher amount of underground artists who produce and rap over their own beats. When Travis Scott first burst onto the scene in 2012-13, he was producing all his own beats. Listen to his first mixtape, Owl Pharaoh; he produced every single song on there, besides one. More recently, you have Nav. He was producing all his beats up until his recent collab mixtape with Metro Boomin, Perfect Timing. And even still, he produced more than half of the songs on the tape. I just think this is a testament to the rise in prominence of the producer; the beat has probably become the most critical and scrutinised part of music nowadays, so producers are under a higher level of scrutiny. Why pay thousands for a beat, when you can just do it yourself?
Genius have a great series on their YouTube channel titled ‘Deconstructed’; here, they dissect and break down famous beats with their producers. Here, you can find Mike Will talking about how he made the Black Beatles beat, the making of the Blem beat by T-Minus, and many others. I don’t think you would’ve seen this sort of series being created 10 years ago. Bear in mind, 10 years ago, we had songs with crazy beats such as A Milli being released. If I asked you who produced the A Milli beat, would you know? His name is Bangladesh, but you didn’t know that, I’m sure. The digital age has helped producers too.
I’m sure there are more Metro Boomins and Southsides out there, who haven’t got the spotlight shone on them just yet. There’s producers on the come up, like K Swisha and 16yrold, who have blessed the underground scene with their beats. K Swisha even produced Blue Cheese by 2 Chainz, which was one of my favourite songs of the summer.
Producers; the real MVPs of hip hop.