Rappers Earning More Respect as Producers
Being creative isn’t limited to being nice at one thing. Some artists bloom by being a jack of all trades and master of many. Most notably and as of late, a lot of coveted rappers have been making magic on the boards in addition to on the mic. And whether that typically consists of them producing music for themselves or other artists, their shared ability to cook stuff up from scratch shouldn’t go without notice.
Last year, Drake and 21 Savage’s blockbuster album, Her Loss, only had one sole feature, Travis Scott, but La Flame wasn’t the only other rapper to make an appearance. Lil Yachty was also a significant part of the project’s creation. Yachty scored co-production credits on standout cuts like “Jumbotron Shit Poppin” and “Privileged Rappers,” plus others. Following the release of Her Loss, Drizzy thanked Boat for his work. “I love ya kid thank you for your time your incredible talent and your adlib game,” he wrote to Yachty on Instagram.
Baby Keem is another name that jumps off the page in this regard. Keem of course laces his own beats to punch in on, but there’s also a friends and family element to his umbrella of talent. In 2021, Keem and his big cousin Kendrick Lamar dropped the Grammy award-winning “Family Ties,” which Keem contributed production to. As heard there, his talent is not to be boxed in, something he stamped in a 2020 XXL interview. “I am not opposed to the title rapper, but that’s not all I do. I’m a creative,” he said.
Moreover, Blxst is additionally known for his execution as a beat controller. Efforts like No Love Lost (“Gang Slide”) and Before You Go (“Still Omw”) slap even harder knowing that Blxst barely outsourced to put it all together. His inspiration to be a switch-hitter came from watching his family do so. “They inspired me to want to try production,” he said about his cousins in a 2021 XXL interview. “I think what sparked it for me was how natural it was…It was as if it was in my DNA already.”
Big respect to those names, and there’s even more to salute. Below is a full list of modern-day rappers who are similarly just as good on the boards as they are on the mic. Disclaimer: this article doesn’t contain the usual suspects like Kanye West. Rather, it highlights the new crop of talent that is following in his footsteps per se.
Blxst’s production aptitude has been exemplified on solo projects like No Love Lost (“Overrated”) and Before You Go (“Still Omw”), as well as Sixtape 1 (“Savage”) and 2 (“Might Do Well”) in tandem with Bino Rideaux. Outside of his own world of rap&b and over the last few years, he also assisted on the beat designs for Bino’s “Brand New” and Burna Boy’s “Solid.”
Both Die For My Bitch (“Invented It”) and The Melodic Blue (“Lost Souls”) feature Baby Keem rapping over beats that he made. But he was earning his stripes as a producer years ago, stacking up credits with TDE’s ScHoolboy Q (“Numb Numb Juice”) and Jay Rock (“Knock It Off”). Recently, Keem won a Grammy for TMB’s “Family Ties” with Kendrick, a track where he also secured a co-production credit, and contributed to Offset’s Blame it on Set single “54321.”
Lil Yachty was one of the producers who helped slice up The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift’s theme song for a face-souring cut off Lil Boat 3, “TD” featuring fiery verses from A$AP Rocky, Tyler, The Creator and Tierra Whack. Fast-forward to last year, he secured four production credits on “BackOutsideBoyz,” “Privileged Rappers,” “Pussy & Millions” with Travis Scott and “Jumbotron Shit Poppin,” all of which were housed on Drake and 21’s Her Loss.
Quavo really started firing off on a production tip back when Culture II dropped. Using the momentum he had from tracks like “BBO” with 21 Savage, he went on to produce on his debut solo project Quavo Huncho (“Lost”) and on the last Culture installation (“Avalanche”). Last year, he branded his beat-making on Only Built For Infinity Links, building rhythms on “Two Infinity Links” and “Bars Into Captions.”
Every Travis Scott project, from Owl Pharaoh to Astroworld, features his production palette. In the last 10 years since gaining his respect as an A-list artist, he’s also assisted on beats that were used by Migos (“White Sand”), Rihanna (“Woo”) and Drake (“Company”). More recently, when his Cactus Jack limb Don Toliver popped out with Heaven or Hell, La Flame lent some melodies to his signee for “After Party.”
Tyler, The Creator
Tyler, The Creator started off in the lab years ago by making beats for himself and other members of the famed Odd Future collective. Speed things up to the 2020s, and he’s winning Grammys off albums that he entirely produced (Call Me If You Get Lost) and pushing the boundaries by offering his production up to people like Maxo Kream (“Big Persona”). On the note of R&B, he’s also helped Snoh Aalegra (“Neon Peach”) and SZA (“Jodie”) maintain their musical chokehold on the masses.
Chief Keef has been producing since the early days, as evidenced on projects like Back From the Dead 2. As time progressed and closer to now, he’s gotten even better, starting with his work on Lil Uzi Vert’s “Chrome Heart Tags” and 2 Chainz’s “Free Lighter” in 2020. He wrapped up last year by contributing some dope additions to Coi Leray’s Trendsetter (“Mission Impossible”), and NBA YoungBoy’s Ma’ I Got A Family (“All The Problems”).
Fridayy produced majority of his Lost In Melody EP last year. From that, standouts include “Empty Stomach,” “God Send” with Vory and “Don’t Give Up On Me.” He rose even higher lat year by solidifying a 2023 Grammy nod for DJ Khaled’s “God Did,” a track he both sung and produced on, and credits on Rae Sremmurd’s “Denial,” Lil Tjay’s “Give You What You Want” and Rod Wave’s “The Answer Is No,” among others.
J. Cole has been known to put his foot into a beat or two. He proved himself early on in the 2010s with platinum-selling records like “Work Out” and “Power Trip,” tracks that he also produced. Showcasing that he hasn’t missed a step over the next decade, Cole was the main beat architect on The Off-Season, where he laced tracks like “Applying Pressure” and “100 Mil” And he handed off two more on Dreamville’s Gangsta Grillz project D-Day (“Lifestyle” by Bas and A$AP Ferg and Ari Lennox’s “Coming Down.”)
Between The Bucket List Project, Care For Me and Few Good Things, Saba is three for three when it comes to his studio albums and his beats are packed within all of them. The list of credits runs deep, but when he popped out with the latter last year, tracks like “Still,” “Survivor’s Guilt” and the Pivot Gang cut “Soldier” stood out, all of which featured his production prowess.
Logic is an underrated tastemaker when it comes to the rap game. His talent should never go without notice though, especially when it comes to production. He’s been perfecting his craft in that regard ever since the mixtape days in the early 2010s. It paid off now that tracks he helped produce like “1-800-273-8255” are on the cusp of going diamond. And he’s made even more beats for recent efforts like Bobby Tarantino III (“Vaccine”) and Vinyl Days (“Tetris”).
Ty Dolla $ign
Ty Dolla $ign has been producing his own music since he first got in the music industry. Extending his success into this decade, he contributed to the beats on Featuring Ty Dolla $ign (“Tyrone 2021,” “Lift Me Up” and “Power Blue,” just to name a few.) And when he linked up with DVSN for Cheers to the Best Memories, he laced the production on that as well (“I Belived It” with Mac Miller).