The Best Hip-Hop Producers in North Texas.
So it seems — according to Complex, at least — Dallas is now officially one of the most underrated hip-hop cities in the country.
No surprise there. It's something we've personally known for a while and have been trying to change. The word needs to get out: There's a ton of promise around here these days.
To that end, you may recall, we compiled a list of the best rappers in the city a couple months back. But emceeing is only half of the hip-hop game. Producing, at least in the way in which the genre is currently constituted, is often every bit as important an element in building a strong hip-hop sound.
So, here, we'll honor the immense talents behind the region's finest beats.
Just as was the case with the rappers, Dallas indeed has a lot to be proud of when it comes to its producers. Our regional crop of beatmakers have worked with some of the biggest acts in music — names that include Kanye West, Jay Z, Lil Wayne, Beyonce, Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar, Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross and more. And the ones who haven't? Well, they've still been integral in launching careers for local acts seemingly on the brink of national acclaim.
On that note, let's just jump right into the list, which isn't intended to be comprehensive one focusing on all the rap producers in the region. Instead, it's a compilation of just the region's most elite hip-hop producers — names locals would do well to know given the amount of national attention that these names have earned already and that, surely, they'll earn again.
Producer: 2Much BTP.
Worked with: Dorrough, Young Buck, Shawty Lo, Yung Nation, Tum Tum and more.
Why You Need To Know Him: “Ice, Ice Baby” aside, the most successful hip-hop song out of Dallas to this day has to be Dorrough's still-infectious 2009 single, “Ice Cream Paint Job.” And the man behind the beat on that track? 2Much. To this day, he and Dorrough continue to work together, most recently on Dorrough's Shut The City Down mixtape, for which 2Much produced the title track.
Producer: Black Milk.
Worked with: J Dilla, GZA, Danny Brown, Slum Village, KRS-One, Pharoahe Monch, Proof, Lloyd Banks and more.
Why You Need To Know Him: Black Milk made his name in Detroit, releasing a string of critically acclaimed and hip-hop head-approved albums while working alongside some of the Motor City's finest in J Dilla, Proof and Danny Brown. Oh, and he's also put in production work for a couple of legends in GZA and KRS-One. Now, the highly respected alternative emcee and producer calls Dallas home. But even before his move here, he had his eye on the city, working with Dallas favorites A.Dd+. These days, Black's gearing up for the release of No Poison No Paradise, his first new project in three years, as well as a national tour that kicks off this Friday in Dallas at Dada.
Producer: Blue, The Misfit.
Worked with: Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Mac Miller, Mod Sun, Dorrough, A.Dd+ and more.
Why You Need To Know Him: Blue, The Misfit (a.k.a. King Blue, a.k.a. Brain Gang Blue) is arguably the most promising hip-hop producer on this list. And yet, even though the wunderkind has production credits for Top Dawg Entertainment artists Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul, as well as serving as the producer and de facto leader of the Brain Gang collective, he still hasn't exactly received the national attention he deserves. Maybe that's because Blue's been relatively quiet over the last two years. Regardless, he's developed a wholly unique sound that's still evolving — something we can confirm after hearing teasers for his soon-to-be released and highly anticipated Child in the Wild project, his first since 2011's Numb.
Worked with: Wiz Khalifa, Meek Mill, Snoop Dogg, Big Sean, Stalley, Curren$y, Snow Tha Product, Joey Fatts, Le$ and more.
Why You Need To Know Him: Just recently, it was announced that Cardo has parted ways with the Wiz Khalifa-led Taylor Gang crew with which he made his name. It's pretty safe to say, though, that Cardo will come out of this split just fine. In his years spent producing for Khalifa's camp, Cardo gained a reputation for producing hits and scored production credits with such acts as Snoop Dogg, Meek Mill, Stalley, Curren$y and Snow Tha Product. He's also beloved by pretty much any and all hip-hop blogs, including 2dopeboyz, Hypetrak and HotNewHipHop, who rarely sleep on a newly-produced Cardo track. The most recent Cardo product garnering much deserved attention? Meek Mill's “Levels.”
Producer: Jose Gomez.
Worked with: Dustin Cavazos.
Why You Need To Know Him: For a while now, Dustin Cavazos has been one of the city's most celebrated artists — and never more so than this year, which has already found the proud Oak Cliff product releasing three separate outputs (one LP, two EPs), with another in the works. Credit Gomez for this outpouring of creativity. The driving force behind nearly all the production on all four of these projects, Gomez is quick establishing himself as one of the more creative producers in Dallas.
Worked with: Mga-Czar; The Outfit, TX; Fat Pimp and more.
Why You Need To Know Him: This summer, local rapper Mga-Czar released “LoneStarr Presents” Lord of the Thunder, and, solid as Mga-Czar's rapping is on the release, the real star on the album is LoneStarr's production. Throughout the seven-track album, LoneStarr delivers a variety of bass-heavy, anthemic beats that complement Mga-Czar's booming vocal style. But LoneStarr's no one-trick pony: On The Outfit, TX's “You Are Cordially Invited (feat. Fat Pimp)” LoneStarr shows off his versatility with a syrupy, slow ride-worthy track befitting of the The Outfit's Houston-influenced sound.
Worked with: Erykah Badu, A.Dd+, Astronautalis, Booty Fade, PPT and more.
Why You Need To Know Him: A local stalwart long cemented in the Dallas scene since his days in PPT, Picnictyme produced all by his lonesome one of the most celebrated Dallas releases of all time in A.Dd+'s When Pigs Fly. He also happens to be a member of Erykah Badu's love production collective The Cannabinoids, as well as Picnictyme one half of the already-adored Booty Fade, which is already making a name for itself outside of the city thanks to its top-notch booty-shaking tunes that sample the greatest of Dallas' past hip-hop classic.
Producer: Play N Skillz.
Worked with: Lil Wayne, Chamillionaire, Bun B, Pitbull, David Guetta, Ludacris, Nelly, Slim Thug, Hilary Duff and more.
Why You Need To Know Him: Play N Skillz is easily the most recognized hip-hop production entity in Dallas, and the adulation is very much deserved: The Brothers Salinas have already got a handful of Grammys under their belts thanks to their production work for Lil Wayne and Chamillionaire. These days, the twosome's production credits reads like a Rolodex of pop music's biggest names. But it bears mentioning, too, that Play-N-Skillz has also taken several of Dallas' up-and-coming potential pop stars under its wings, too. You can't say these dudes don't put on for their city.
Producer: Symbolyc One.
Worked with: Kanye West, Beyonce, Jay Z, Eminem, 50 Cent, Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu, Pusha T and more.
Why You Need To Know Him: This list is not ranked — and lucky for everyone else. We it, Symbolyc One would be the clear No. 1 choice. The most notable highlight of Symbolyc One's career is easily Kanye West's in-every-single-movie-trailer-ever “Power” smash, which came as part of the polarizing rapper's Grammy-winning My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album in 2010. These days, S1 continues to work with West's GOOD Music label and most recently produced “Guilt Trip” from this summer's Yeezus. Now, it seems the rap-centric production monster is ready to start dabbling outside of the hip-hop realm, too: He recently announced a new collaboration called The Dividends with area indie pop darling Sarah Jaffe.
Worked with: Team From Nowhere
Why You Need To Know Him: These days, it feels like -topic is as deeply ingrained in the Dallas hip-hop as seems physically possible. But he's more than just a dude with connections. He's one of the region's more innovative production ears. And, more than that, he's multi-talented — he easily ranks among of the city's best rappers, too. His beats and his raps are wholly his own, and, before we know it, he could be redefining Dallas' sound singlehandedly. Basically: He's not to be slept on.
Producer: YoungStarr Beatz' Marvel Hitz.
Worked with: 2 Chainz, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross and more.
Why You Need To Know Him: It's hard to imagine a Grammy-nominated producer going relatively unnoticed in this city, but that's so it goes for YoungStarr Beatz' Marvel Hitz. In addition to plenty of local production credits to his name thanks to collaborations with such recognizable locals as B-Hamp, Fat Pimp and the much-celebrated Yung Nation, Marvel has produced for Lil Boosie and Jim Jones. But his most notable and curiously quiet credit to date is his work on 2 Chainz and Nick Minaj's “I Luv Dem Strippers” from Chainz' Grammy-nominated Based on a T.R.U. Story.