2019 was a breakthrough year for several of today’s most exciting acts. The multiple hip-hop success stories were the result of a healthy combination of skills on the mic, the ability to keep fans engaged and production provided by some of the most talented names behind the boards. These producers have been building a following for quite some time and in 2020, they're continue their winning streak.
Since dropping his debut studio album Baby on Baby, DaBaby has ascended to hip-hop stardom. The North Carolina rap star’s rise to the top of the charts was due, in part, to Jetsonmade. The 22-year-old producer crafted several tracks on Baby on Baby, including “Goin Baby” and “Suge,” the latter of which peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also earned DaBaby and Jetsonmade nominations for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance at the 2020 Grammy Awards.
At 19 years old, producer Nick Mira earned himself the title of youngest producer on the Billboard Hot 100 Producers chart in 2019. The Richmond, Va. native has been crafting beats for plenty of artists from the SoundCloud era and beyond. Most notably, his work with Juice Wrld earned him placement after placement on the Billboard charts throughout last year. In 2020, he's keeping the momentum going in the stu.
Megan Thee Stallion also turned the heat up in 2019. And LilJuMadeDaBeat, the producer behind bangers like the platinum, DaBaby-assisted “Cash Shit” and Meg’s first gold record, “Big Ole Freak,” helped to soundtrack her Hot Girl Summer, providing several beats found on last year’s acclaimed Fever mixtape.
Wheezy outta here. His producer tag has been heard far and wide, and his production savvy has landed him on albums from Young Thug to Gunna to Future and more. His 2019 brought him even more acclaim with his work on Gunna's Drip or Drown 2, locking in half of the album's 16 tracks.
From Brooklyn to Buffalo, New York is experiencing a musical resurgence of sorts. BK’s emerging drill movement—which has helped to introduce the likes of Pop Smoke, Sheff G, Fivio Foreign—has mostly been sonically curated by U.K. beatsmiths AXL Beats and 808Melo, while the Griselda team of Benny The Butcher, Westside Gunn and Conway The Machine have relied heavily on producer Daringer to provide their signature sounds.
Several other producers including 30 Roc, Earl on the Beat, Christo, and even artists like Baby Keem have been soundtracking rap’s latest waves. Here, XXL takes a look at 24 Essential Producers to Look Out for in 2020.
Responsible for the beats behind hit songs like Lil Baby’s "Yes Indeed" collab with Drake and Meek Mill’s Drake-assisted “Going Bad,” Wheezy kept his hot streak rolling throughout 2019. He co-produced three records on Future’s No. 1-selling album Future Hndrxx Presents: The WIZRD, seven songs from Gunna’s Billboard 200 top 10 debut, Drip or Drown 2—which includes the singles “Baby Birkin” and the Young Thug-featured “3 Headed Snake”—and Thug’s heater from So Much Fun, “Hot.” The fun didn’t stop there for the platinum-selling producer. He also laced Trippie Redd, Yung Bans, Lil Gotit and folk artist Bon Iver with his signature sounds.
After providing the bulk of the production for Juice Wrld’s critically acclaimed 2018 debut album, Goodbye & Good Riddance, 19-year-old producer Nick Mira followed up strong in 2019. He produced “Robbery,” the lead single for Juice’s sophomore album, Death Race for Love, and one of Juice's newer efforts “Bandit,” the hit collaboration between Juice and YoungBoy Never Broke Again. The member of the Internet Money production collective also provided the bounce for Lil Tecca’s 2019 smash “Ransom," which landed at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, Post Malone’s “On the Road” featuring Lil Baby and Meek Mill, and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s “Might Not Give Up” with Young Thug. He's also cooked up heat for Kodak Black, Iann Dior and Landon Cube, among others. Last year, he received the title of youngest producer on the Billboard Hot 100 Producers chart.
After making a name for himself as a popping producer for the likes of 21 Savage, Young Nudy, Lil Keed and Lil Gotit, JetsonMade teamed up with fellow Carolina native DaBaby and further established himself as a hitmaker. The producer, who first linked with the Baby on Baby rapper via Instagram, crafted several slaps and bops for the 2019 XXL Freshman, including the hit singles “Suge” and “Bop.” DaBaby's song "Suge" earned Jetsonmade his first two Grammy Award nominations this year when the song he produced nabbed Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance nods.
LilJuMadeDaBeat helped usher in 2019’s Hot Girl Summer. Megan Thee Stallion’s go-to producer was responsible for the production found on six of the tracks from her Fever mixtape. He laced her with the sonic backdrops that helped create her twerk anthems, as well as crack the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time. Ju, a native of Dallas, Texas, first started making beats in 2008, and landed his first placement five years later with Gucci Mane. He's expected to help Hot Girl Meg steer the boat for her forthcoming debut album, Suga.
Yo, Pi'erre, you wanna come out here. Producer Pi'erre Bourne has been out here literally for quite a few years, but the new-generation of artists, from SoundCloud rappers to the next wave of Billboard chart-climbers, are still relying on him to craft the sonics permeating the streaming blocks. Last year, the North Carolina-bred, Queens-bred beatmaker also showcased his rhyming skills with The Life of Pi'erre 4, a lauded effort replete with Auto-Tune, plenty of vibes and his signature production. Will 2020 deliver TLOP 5? Let's hope so.
When digging in the crates for a sound and feeling reminiscent of the raw, boom bap flavor synonymous with the golden era in hip-hop, Benny the Butcher, Westside Gunn and Conway The Machine know just who to call. Daringer has been contributing to the Griselda movement since 2014, when he produced cuts on Conway’s Hitler Wears Hermès. Since then, the producer crafted the soundscape on multiple projects from the Griselda crew, including their debut album, WWCD.
Hailing from Switzerland, producer OZ began his takeover of the American airwaves by creating heat for rap stars like Meek Mill, Fabolous, Logic and Gucci Mane. He’s continued his reign by scoring co-production credits on seven songs from Trippie Redd’s A Love Letter to You 3, Rick Ross’ Grammy-nominated track “Gold Roses,” Travis Scott’s No. 1 hit “Highest in the Room” and “Life Is Good” from Future and Drake.
Kid Culture is a new kid on the producer block, and he's already received the accolades of a seasoned veteran. The beatmaker from Seattle, who's provided production for Ed Sheeran and Rich Brian in the past, received his first two Grammy Award nominations for his work on YBN Cordae’s debut album, The Lost Boy. The West Coast native co-produced 10 of the 15 tracks on Cordae's lauded LP including "Bad Idea" featuring Chance The Rapper. Kid Cutlure's most recent claim to fame is scoring Justin Bieber’s comeback single “Yummy,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
After leaving an impression on 21 Savage, Atlanta native Kid Hazel became an in-house producer for the Grammy Award-winning rap star’s Slaughter Gang. The producer, who grew up a fan of legendary artists such as Carlos Santana and Smokey Robinson, went on to contribute to several songs (six of 15) on 21’s critically acclaimed album I Am > I Was, including the tracks “Out for the Night,” “Pad Lock,” “ASMR,” “Gun Smoke,” “Letter 2 My Momma” and “4L.”
Kenny Beats can’t stop, because he won’t stop. The in-demand producer, who has crafted tracks for the likes of Ski Mask The Slump God, Freddie Gibbs, Rico Nasty and Denzel Curry, has maintained his presence by producing on a variety of projects from a wide range of artists. Recent recipients of Kenny’s banging beats include FKA twigs, Ed Sheeran, Yung Bans, Gucci Mane and Key Glock, as well as Rico Nasty, Denzel Curry and 03 Greedo, who all teamed up with Mr. Beats for joint projects.
Things continue to heat up for ChaseTheMoney. Since relocating to Chicago, the in-demand, St. Louis-bred producer has crafted hard-hitting beats for singles like E-40’s all-star posse cut “Chase The Money” featuring Quavo, Roddy Ricch, A$AP Ferg and SchoolBoy Q, along with Smokepurpp’s hit collaboration “Nephew” with Lil Pump. He's even laid the foundation for album cuts like the J. Cole and Young Nudy collab “Sunset” from Dreamville’s Revenge of the Dreamers III compilation album. The certified heat-maker also provides instrumentals for Maxo Kream, Lil Yachty, Jeremih, Chance The Rapper and Ski Mask The Slump God.
Straight out of Watts, Calif. comes producer Ron-Ron. The 23-year-old beatmaker has been soundtracking the streets of Cali since he first landed on the scene. He credits the sounds of Snoop Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound as early inspirations for what he's ultimately made as his own West Coast sound. Ron-Ron, who dropped his RonRonDoThatShit EP last year, continues to bring the rising rappers from his hometown to the forefront with collaborations from the likes of AzChike, 1Takejay and Shoreline Mafia.
Roddy Ricch closed out his highlight-filled 2019 with the release of his debut album, Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial. The chart-topping project features the 30 Roc-produced “The Box,” which has spent seven weeks and counting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100—plus its' spawned countless memes. The Bronx-bred 30 Roc is not new to climbing the charts. The producer of hits like Cardi B’s 21 Savage collab “Bartier Cardi” and Yo Gotti’s hit “Rake It Up” with Nicki Minaj has also lent his production skills to the likes of Quavo, Lil Yachty, Kash Doll and 21 Savage.
Las Vegas rapper Baby Keem is a triple threat. He's certainly got the rhymes down and he's also a talented songwriter and producer. His cinematic production skills appeared on two of the most buzzed about movie soundtracks in recent memory: last year’s The Lion King: The Gift and 2018’s Kendrick Lamar-curated Black Panther: The Album. Keem, who is listed as co-writer and producer on The Lion King: The Gift’s Beyonce and K. Dot-featured “Nile,” can also be considered one of TDE’s top secret weapons. The 19-year-old producer, who first made noise with his own music in 2018 with The Sound of a Bad Habit, produced a couple of joints on Jay Rock’s Redemption ("Knock It Off," "Rotation 112th") and Schoolboy Q's CrasH Talk ("Numb Numb Juice," "Lies"). His most solo album, Die for My Bitch, features him co-producing on 13 of 14 tracks, including his hit "Orange Soda."
Whether as a lead artist or a behind-the-scenes playmaker, Hitmaka, the artist formerly known as Yung Berg, is a certified hit-maker. After scoring smashes with the likes of Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Big Sean and Gucci Mane, Hitmaka turned up in 2019. He provided production for songs like PnB Rock’s “I Like Girls,” 2 Chainz’s Ariana Grande-accompanied single “Rule the World,” from his Rap or Go to the League album, and singer Layton Greene’s successful collaboration “Leave Me Alone” with Lil Baby, City Girls and PnB Rock. The producer behind 2007’s “Sexy Ladies” is right back at it in 2020, with production credits found on A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s Artist 2.0 track “Right Back.” He produced the track along with Billboard Hitmakers, Go Grizzly and Squat Beats, flipping Blackstreet's 1997 classic song "Don't Leave Me."
Over the last few years, Turbo a.k.a Turbo The Great has made a habit out of producing hits. The Atlanta producer is responsible for some of the region's most compelling street anthems of the last few years, serving as an executive producer for Lil Baby and Gunna's 2018 Drip Harder mixtape (he produced eight of 14 tracks on the project, which earned a No. 4 Billboard 200 debut spot) and crafting several beats found on Gunna’s acclaimed top five Billboard 200 chart debut Drip or Drown 2. Thanks to Turbo's sonics, "Drip Too Hard" has been certified five-times platinum. He's also connected with newcomer NLE Choppa for the Cottonwood track “Cruze,” as well as MoneyBagg Yo, 03 Greedo, Lil Gotit, YNW Melly, Key Glock, Shy Glizzy and Q Da Fool.
Sonic has been catching bodies with his production skills for rap stars like Lil Durk and Roddy Ricch for a few years now. The producer, who brought in his first gold plaque for his contributions to Polo G’s song “Effortless” in 2019, is listed in the production credits for several tracks housed on Roddy Ricch’s No. 1 album, Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial. Prior to lacing Roddy’s tracks “Perfect Time,” “Moonwalkin” with Lil Durk, “God’s Eyes” and “Prayers to the Trap God,” Sonic teamed with Durk for cult classics like “David Ruffin” and “Career Day.”
An affiliate of Metro Boomin’s Boominati Worldwide imprint, Chopsquad DJ introduced his Midwest swing in the mid-2010s, producing for rap stars like Lil Durk. He's the kind of producer who will hit the keys to craft a beat literally from his own two hands. The Grammy Award-nominated producer from St. Louis has consistently put in work over the years, and as a result, his production has ended up on projects from Lil Uzi Vert, Chief Keef, King Von, Sada Baby, Yo Gotti and Yung Bans. A few recent highlights from Chopsquad’s resume includes Lil Durk’s “No Standards,” Trippie Redd’s “Topanga,” Fabolous’ Lil Durk-featured track “Cap” and Swae Lee “Sextasy.”
London producer AXL Beats has been making a splash across the pond ever since he linked with 22Gz’s via YouTube for the Brooklyn rapper's 2016 song “Suburban.” AXL has been crafting his beats with a sound that features a sonic mash-up of Chicago drill and U.K.’s grime. In 2019, he continued to help usher in hip-hip’s current drill wave with production credits that include Fivio Foreign’s big hit “Big Drip,” Smoove'L’s “New Apollos,” Jackboys' “Gatti” featuring Pop Smoke, and Drake’s “War,” the latter of which now has over 30 million views on YouTube.
Inspired by the sounds of Chicago’s drill scene, U.K.-based producer 808Mel began carving out his own sonic lane in 2016. A few years later, he took his talents global by producing bangers for emerging Brooklyn rap acts like Sheff G and the late Pop Smoke. He's responsible for the ominous sounds of Smoke’s breakthrough record, “Welcome to the Party,” as well as nine of 10 tracks on Pop's debut project, Meet the Woo, and several tracks from the Brooklyn rapper’s recently released follow-up Meet the Woo, Vol. 2. You can hear his work on Pop's Quavo assisted “Shake The Room,” the Lil TJay collaboration “Mannequin” and “Foreigner” with A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. 808Melo is a leading architect of the emerging BK drill movement.
CashmoneyAp went from an unknown producer leasing beats on YouTube to one of hip-hop’s most sought-after hit-makers. Already known for supplying the likes of A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and YoungBoy Never Broke Again with fire production, Cashmoney Ap managed to keep the winning streak going throughout 2019 by producing heat like DaBaby’s Kevin Gates-assisted “Pop Star,” Lil Tecca’s “Weatherman” and “Senorita,” NLE Choppa’s “Famous Hoes” and “Side,” “Double C’s” by Quando Rondo and NBA YoungBoy’s Michael Jackson-sampling “Dirty Iyanna.” Leveling up to executive status with his own label, the platinum-selling producer found success with the “type beat” marketing strategy. Last year, he signed YoungKio—the beatmaker who crafted the track for Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road”—to his CashGang imprint. AP also appears on recent releases from Pop Smoke, Lil Tjay, TJ Porter, Lil Skies, Saweetie and Kevin Gates.
Pittsburgh-bred producer Christo has been riding high off a successful 2019 following his work on the Dreamville compilation album, Revenge of the Dreamers III. The platinum-selling opus features two of Christo's beats: "Under the Sun" with J. Cole and Lute featuring DaBaby, and "Wells Fargo" with J.I.D and Earthgang featuring Buddy and Guapdad 4000. Even before the newbies caught wind of his work on the No. 1-selling project, Christo has been steady behind the boards for many of J.I.D's lyrical onslaughts. Aside from beats on The Never Story and DiCaprio 2 (his production work can be heard on seven of 14 tracks on the latter, including the gold-selling banger "151 Rum"), he'll likely have his hand in the beats for J.I.D's upcoming album.
For the uninformed, Earl on the Beat a.k.a. EarlThePearlll is responsible for the driving soundscape that is City Girls' 2019 smash "Act Up." He's produced plenty of tracks throughout his career, but the platinum-selling banger is one of his most lauded claims to fame. His longtime friend Lil Yachty penned the track, which is just another indication that their friendship works both in and out of the studio���Lil Boat and Earl have been friends since 7 years old. Take a listen to the Quality Control: Control The Streets, Volume 1 and Quality Control: Control the Streets, Volume 2 compilations, plus Lil Yachty's 2018 Nuthin' 2 Prove album to hear his beats. And look out for more of Earl's production savvy to come on Lil Yachty's Lil Boat 3 album, set to drop this year.
Murda on the beat, so it's not nice. You know when Murda Beatz's producer tag hits, the sound to follow is about to be a slapper. Hailing from Ontario, Canada, the 26-year-old producer has been putting in work since 2015 with Migos' "Pipe It Up." He's shown his versatility with beats for everyone from Drake to Smokepurpp, and even scored one of his biggest accomplishments to date by landing an eight-times-platinum-selling accolade with the 6ix9ine and Nicki Minaj collab "Fefe." This year, stay tuned for Murda Beatz's Keep God First 2 project, the follow-up to his 2016 effort of the same name.