Behind The Beats: New York City
Our last installment in our three-part hip-hop producers series lands at the birthplace of rap. It would be easy for NYC to rest on its reputation as the city that introduced a rebellious, game-changing art form that would evolve from its humble Bronx origins to captivate the globe with such pioneering icons as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-D.M.C., the Beastie Boys, and Salt-N-Pepa leading the way. Instead, The City That Never Sleeps has been revitalized, embracing the trap music zeitgeist while still staying true to its boom bap past. For a region that has produced such studio stalwarts as Marley Marl, Prince Paul, the RZA, DJ Premier, and Pete Rock, there is indeed a powerful musical legacy to live up to. The current crop of East Coast-based producers below are certainly up to the task.
Sounds Like: Brooklyn’s in the house.
The Run Down: East Coast purists praised Harry Fraud’s flip of Thomas Bell Orchestra’s “A Theme For LA’s Team” (1979) on French Montana’s 2012 breakthrough single “Shot Caller.” But Fraud, who has delivered for some of NYC’s finest from Mobb Deep’s Prodigy to Action Bronson, is not all about boom bap heroics. He’s racked up bangers for Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y and crafted a silky 2014 remix for British blue-eyed soul crooner Sam Smith (“Nirvana”). This year, Fraud teamed up with lyricist Smoke DZA for the two-fisted set He Has Risen.
Sounds like: Electro hiphop blasting through a wall of Marshall speakers.
The Run Down: So what’s a kid from Iraq doing turning out tracks in Notorious B.I.G.’s BK stomping grounds? Living the American dream as one half for the avantgarde rap duo Weekend Money. After working with heralded instrumentalist Hot Sugar on the 2012 funk strut “F***able,” Baghdaddy — who can go from cool pop to street-aimed trap with ease — partnered with swaggering rhyme prince Ne$$ and unleashed their 15 song stunner Freddie Merkury (2014). Currently, Weekend Money can be heard on their Awkwafina and Kekstizzy blessed infectious single “Sriracha.”
Sounds like: That omnipresent, inescapable hit on the radio.
The Run Down: This Roc Nation-signed conductor boasts an enviable list of studio conquests, including J. Cole, Wale, French Montana, NeYo, and rising pop dynamo Tinashe. And yet it was Jamil “Deputy” Pierre’s career-changing hookup with Rihanna on her 2015 anthem “Bitch Better Have My Money” that lifted the East Flatbush, Brooklyn talent to much sought-after status. The producer’s Roc connections got him a sit-down with Ms. RiRi. After a session with songwriter and wild pop child Bibi Bourelly — and some advice from larger-than-life rhyme rebel Kanye West — Rihanna liked what she heard. The rest is history, but Deputy is not one to look back.
Sounds like: The record industry’s secret weapon.
The Run Down: Quick. Do a check of some of the more noteworthy records to capture music fans’ ears over the last three-plus years and you will see Vinylz’s name attached to a lofty list of productions. The 26 year-old Dominican-American, straight outta Washington Heights, has done most of his damage riding shotgun with fellow hitmaker Boi1da on such chart-aimed missiles as JayZ’s and Rick Ross’ “*uckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt,” Drake’s “5am in Toronto,” DJ Khaled’s “No New Friends,” and more recently Chris Brown’s “Back To Sleep.” Show off.
Sounds like: The ultimate genre-hopping jukebox.
The Run Down: Don’t expect Antwan “Amadeus” Thompson to stick to the proverbial script. The Boogie Down Bronx standout and musical director for platinum R&B heartthrob Trey Songz is much too restless to play it safe. Thugged-out recklessness (Maino & Uncle Murda’s King Kong Godzilla”); soulful balladry (Chris Brown’s “The Break Up”); conscious-minded statements (Talib Kweli’s “Nice Things”); and pop-tailored ‘hood mashups (Jennifer Lopez’ “Same Girl”) all have a place in Amadeus’ dizzying musical world.