2018! Wow! What a year everybody! Everyone did such good things! Take a look at yourself (yes you, reader), you did good things and I’m proud of you. This was also a big year for rap producers (harsh segue I know), and so here’s a little thingy to appreciate them. This is really just a list of producers who bursted into the mainstream rap scene this year. So no Murda Beatz, Metro Boomin, Pierre Bourne, or Ronny J, even though they all had amazing years and you should listen to their stuff (just kidding, you already have you just don’t realize it). This list is all men and I apologize as a writer. Here is a great article about female producers with a separate list that you should also listen to.
1.New Deal by K$upreme ft. Ski Mask the Slump God. Produced by Danny Wolf.
Producer tag: “Danny I see you!”
Danny Wolf has been on the come up for a few years now, with colab tapes out with Hoodrich, Pablo Juan, and 6 Dogs. This year his stabbing synths and see-saw sense for sound trickled into almost every tape in the Soundcloud mainstream. This song sounds like if you left a slinky outside to rust for 40 years in somewhere racist, then pushed it down the stairs and it could finally yell.
2. Nephew by Smokepurpp ft. Lil Pump. Produced by Chasethemoney.
Producer tag: “Chase the money, chase the money”
This song might be bad, or it might be good. Chasethemoney basically makes the same song every time: boosted-bass 808s and hi-hat flares rather than trap cymbals. Honestly, it’s a good time. Also, Lil Pump says he’ll Uber pool a one-night stand and that’s some energy I need right now. This is Chasethemoney’s first foray into the mainstream away from his constant collaborator Valee, and he went off with this.
3. Sicko Mode by Travis Scott ft. Drake. Produced by Travis Scott and Tay Keith.
Producer tag: “Tay Keith! Fuck these n***** up!”
Overplayed? Yes. Abrupt beat changes? Yes. Weak verses from Travis and Drake? Yes. But Tay Keith exploded out of nowhere this year. What he has lacked in versatility as a producer (see: this), he has made up for in making me want to dance to pots and pans. This song was Tay Keith’s slam dunk on his outstanding run this year, and it doesn’t seem like the Memphis boy is close to done.
4. Stain by Goonew. Produced by Cheecho.
DMV producer and rapper pairing blew up this year! The swooning and sparring beat pairs perfectly with Goonew’s offbeat delivery. If you don’t support DMV artists and go to Georgetown maybe transfer to the MSB.
5. Billy and Mandy by Ouee 2 Times and Good Intent. Produced by Captain Crunch.
Producer tag: “Captain Crunch presents!”
Another DMV producer! Captain Crunch eschewed his cartoonish style for his own beat tape this year, and this song is extraordinary. The way it provides a narrative and rejects verse-chorus beat structure (and features cohesive beat-switches oh wow) is masterful. This might be one of my favorite beats of the year.
6. I’m Upset by Drake. Produced by Oogiemane.
Producer tag: “I’m working on dying”
I know that one Drake song on a list is bad enough, but this song was a special moment this year. It was Drake’s premature victory lap during his beef with Pusha T, and he tapped underground (like so underground he was subterranean) producer Oogiemane for the beat.
7. Square Up by Zack Fox x Kenny Beats. Produced by Kenny Beats.
Producer tags: “Woah Kenny!” “Thank you Kenny” “Kennnnyyyyyyy”
Bored on an October afternoon, Zack Fox rented some studio space and tweeted at Kenny Beats, EDM artist recently turned rap-producer, to pull up. They dropped Square Up at midnight, and honestly, good for us. Kenny has had maybe the biggest year of anyone on this list, producing entire tapes for Rico Nasty, UnotheActivist, Freddie Gibbs, Key!, and Allblack, and featuring on tapes all across the rap spectrum. He’s proven himself to be versatile and chameleon-like, but it’s his playfulness that holds in every song. And this song is, uh. Playful. Yup.
8. Tsunami by Young Thug. Produced by Weezy.
Producer tags: “Wheezy outta here” “My n**** wheezy, know what I’m saying?”
Wheezy has been cooking up hits since Atlanta trap has been on the map, but this year he finally got recognition. He produced hits for Lil Baby, Gunna, Young Thug, and everyone else looking for that dark and moody Atlanta sound. For his hard work, Young Thug opened his album with a song dedicated to one of Atlanta’s finest, and the industry is still riding Wheezy’s tsunami wave.
9. kareful_ by Knxwledge.
Our only non-trap producer! Knxwledge is closer to a boom-bap producer, making loops in the style of J Dilla. His reimaginings of pop-rap, like this remix of Cardi B’s “Be Careful,” are endlessly listenable, looped brain-worms with an R&B spirituality to them.
10. New Patek by Lil Uzi Vert. Produced by Dolanbeatz.
Producer tag: “This is a Dolanbeatz production”
When Uzi posted that snippet of him dancing to this song in a hotel bathroom, it was already a hit. Kids were hitting the quan to a Twitter video. Dolanbeatz bluesy keys add a swaggered mellowness to a ferocious performance by Lil Uzi Vert, and helped to catapult him into the mainstream.