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Rappers often get the majority of the glory and fanfare, but without the musicians behind the scenes crafting the beats, the lyrics would not come to life. Before the emcee moved the crowd, the break did — and despite the role reversal of the DJ and the artist — continues to be the crux of any song worth listening to. This past year, a number of records were released that resonated with the public in a big way. They were successful due to not only the artist performing on them, but the producer listed in the credits.
The production landscape has never been as vast or open as its become in recent years, with a bevy of talent infiltrating the game and adding new wrinkles to the fabric of hip hop. However, after scouring through the liner notes of some of the biggest singles and most acclaimed albums, a few recurring names jumped out that were responsible for the bulk of what rap and R&B fans were listening to throughout the year.
With the end of the year upon us, REVOLT highlights the nine hottest producers that defined the sound of hip hop and R&B in 2019.
9. NOVA WAV
In an era where women are stepping toward the forefront of the music industry like never before, production duo NOVA WAV made their bones as one of the top hitmakers in the game. Comprised of Floridians Brittany “Chi” Coney and Denisia “Blu June” Andrews, NOVA WAV built on previous placements earned on projects from megastars like The Carters and Rihanna this year with a slew of singles, most notably Nicki Minaj’s top 20 smash “Megatron.” And with additional credits on records from Ariana Grande (“In My Head”), DJ Khaled (“Jealous”), Kehlani (“Feels”) and others, NOVA WAV’s name was a constant in your favorite artists’ liner notes in 2019.
Boasting one of the more distinct production tags to infiltrate the airwaves in recent years, Wheezy’s sound was as inescapable as ever this year. From scoring multiple tracks on Young Thug’s So Much Fun album including the Lil Baby-assisted heater “Bad Bad Bad” to serving as one of the prominent maestro on acclaimed full-length releases by Future (Future Hndrxx Presents: The WIZRD) and Gunna (Drip or Drown 2), the Mississippi native ended the decade on a high note.
Former rap star Yung Berg’s evolution into Hitmaka has undoubtedly been one of the biggest comeback stories in quite some time. Using the latter half of the decade to establish himself, the Chi-Town export’s had the last laugh by building a reputation as one of the most trusted ears in the game and servicing a who’s who of the Billboard charts. Supplying heat to 2 Chainz (“Rule the World”), Chris Brown (“Come Together”), PnB Rock (“I Like Girls”), Teyana Taylor (“How You Want It?”) and countless others, Hitmaka’s fingers were all over hottest rap and R&B records of 2019.
6. London On Tha Track
Some producers enjoy a short stay atop the charts before fading into obscurity, but London on da Track has proven himself to be anything but a flash in the pan — his dominant run being all the evidence needed. Having serviced established rap stars like Drake, T.I., Gucci Mane, Young Thug and Migos; the ATLien changed course in 2019 by introducing his girlfriend, R&B singer Summer Walker, to the masses. In addition to producing the majority of Walker’s debut album, Over It, which yielded multiple Billboard Hot 100 hits, London also got busy on the rap tip, lending his talents to breakout sensations like DaBaby and Dreezy.
As one of the leaders of the west coast renaissance that bubbled over at the beginning of the decade, Mustard has stamped himself as one of the most prominent beatsmiths in music. Having expanded his sound across various genres, the L.A. native returned to his roots in 2019 and reunited with longtime collaborator YG on the Compton rep’s 4Real 4Real album. Mustard also unveiled his own compilation album, Perfect Ten, which was powered by records by the Migos (“Baguettes”) and west coast upstart Roddy Ricch (“Ballin”), the latter of which garnered a Grammy nomination. Keeping the streets fed with Still Summer In the Projects, his joint album with 03 Greedo; the DJ/producer reminded the music world that even with all of his mainstream success, he’s still as hungry as ever.
Few producers have built an innate chemistry with an artist in quite the manner that JetsonMade has with DaBaby this past year. Bursting onto the scene with his work on the Grammy nominee’s major label debut album, Baby on Baby, specifically the monstrous banger “Suge,” Jetson quickly hit the ground running and racked up credits alongside Youngboy Never Broke Again (“Ranada”), Roddy Ricch (“Start With Me”), and Lil Keed (“Pull Up,” “Oh My God”). Teaming up with DaBaby once again on his sophomore effort, KIRK, Jetson cranked out yet another fan-favorite in “Bop,” effectively ending the year in full circle.
3. Nick Mira
As the direction of rap music continues to change course with every new record released, Nick Mira is one of the producers chiefly responsible for providing the backdrop for many of the songs that currently move the needle. Hailing from Richmond, Virginia; Mira’s big break came with his work on late rapper Juice WRLD’s 2018 hit “Lucid Dreams,” along with other placements. But, the past twelve months have proved to be even more fruitful for the boardsman. Crafting the beat for Lil Tecca’s seismic top 5 hit “Ransom,” as well as additional tracks on the newcomer’s debut mixtape, We Love You Tecca; Mira has crept into the upper echelon of producers. And with his sonics having landed on projects from other stars like Post Malone (Hollywood’s Bleeding), Lil Uzi Vert (Eternal Atake) and Young Thug (So Much Fun), it’s a safe bet that this producer’s hot streak is far from over.
2. Take A Daytrip
New York City is known as the home of boom-bap. But these days, production duo Take A Daytrip are churning out a more malleable sound than that of their Big Apple forefathers. Comprised of Denzel Baptiste and David Biral, the duo crashed the party in a big way this year, accounting for some of the definitive rap songs that hit the airwaves. Contributing two tracks to Lil Nas X’s 7 album (“Panini” and “Rodeo”), which peaked in the top 5 and top 25, respectively, Baptiste and Biral also scored Big Sean’s “Single Again,” which peaked at No. 64 on the Hot 100 chart. In addition to making an impact in terms of metrics, Take A Daytrip’s presence were also felt on some of 2019’s most acclaimed albums, with deep cuts on YBN Cordae’s The Lost Boy and Kevin Gates’ I’m Him further attesting to the pair’s versatility.
If any producer defined the sound of hip hop and R&B this year, it was OZ; whose contributions accounted for a mix of chart-toppers, radio smashes, street bangers, and everything in between. Already having worked with many of the top spitters in the game prior to this year, 2019 saw an increase in OZ’s productivity, as the Switzerland native’s name was all over the place. Helping construct the backdrop to Travis Scott’s No. 1 hit “Highest in the Room” may have been the icing on the cake, but OZ didn’t stop there. He would later provide the soundscape for the Drake warning shot “Omerta,” his collaboration with Rick Ross “Gold Roses,” and Dreamville’s syrupy lead single “Got Me.” Top that off with lending his talents to joints by Tory Lanez (“Freaky”), Trippie Redd (“Throw It Away,” “Be Yourself,” “Lil Wayne”), NAV (“To My Grave”), and Young M.A. (“Bipolar”), to name a few, and what you’ve got is an impressive resume from the frontrunner for our producer of the year honors.