As promised, the 10 best boardsmen of 2017! Shoutout all the dope producers contributing beats and instrumentals to the hip hop community. This all would be lost without you right now. Hopefully one day soon peeps can realize how instrumental y’all truly are to this beautiful culture. Kick it!
10) Teddy Walton
The first new face on the list. Memphis’ Teddy Walton burst onto my radar with his boisterous and beautiful banger ‘Crew’ back in the Spring – shoutout GoldLink and company on that one still. Add in some work on Kendrick’s DAMN., Freddie Gibbs’ You Only Live 2wice and B-Tiller’s sophomore effort True to Self and you have yourself quite the list of accomplishments. Well done – will be keeping an eye on him in 2018 for sure.
Notable Feats: ‘Crew,’ DAMN., You Only Live 2wice, West EP, True to Self, Thinking Out Loud
9) Monte Booker
Remember how I said Smino pretty much created his own sub-genre of hip hop? This dude can be thanked a lot for that. Booker worked with young stars throughout the Midwest in 2017, creating bubbly, incredibly smooth tracks throughout the process. Monte will only get bigger in 2018, so it’s time to hop on the hype train. His remixes alone are worth checking out – different dimension of funk.
Notable Feats: Blkswn, ‘Kompany,’ ‘Baby Boy’ remix, ‘Drunk,’ ‘Mona Lisa,’ ‘Yellow +’
8) No I.D.
Gotta be honest – I’d say half of the success of 4:44 has to be given to this man. Jay ABSOLUTELY did his thing on the mic, but No’s beats held everything together perfectly. They were powerful, diverse and the exact rap scores that Hov needed to tell his stories over.
I.D. stayed in house for the most part this year, also working closely with Vic Mensa on his debut The Autobiography. Now stapling himself as an important player on the Roc Nation roster, I.D.
has once again reinvented himself – Resurrection almost feels like a whole lifetime ago. Mad love and respect to this artist. Changing the game for the better.
Notable Feats: 4:44, The Autobiography, Everybody, Paranoia: A True Story
7) Kirk Knight
I GO CRAZY IN MY YEEZY’S KIRK KNEEZY ON THE BEAT! Can’t tell ya how happy I am to have this name on the list. Been following Kirk’s come up heavy – mostly ever since I saw him live in Boston during the Fall of 2014. I was captivated by the high-energy of Kirk’s performance. He was eye-catching, lively and quite frankly rather damn cool. The same vibe transcends into the music. Kirk had his finger on some of NYC’s finest rap music this year. Recognition is a must. Time to wake up.
Notable Feats: Nyck @ Knight, ‘Plain Jane,’ All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$, Black Noise, ‘Nandos,’ ‘Set Up’
6) Metro Boomin
Metro, Metro, Metro. What can be said about this producer that hasn’t already been said? When it comes to mainstream bangers no one is even touching Mr. Boomin. You see those credits below, right? If it was on the radio, heavy streaming or anywhere big this year Metro probably could have been tied to it in some way. Add in the fact that he launched his own record label in 2017 and it’s over. This whole “trap” phase wouldn’t be half as good as it is without Metro pushing it forward. Bold statement – but his craft speaks for itself.
Notable Feats: Without Warning, DropTopWop, Double or Nothing, I Decided, FUTURE, HNDRXX, Issa Album, Mr. Davis, ‘Fucc Outta Here,’ ‘In Charlotte,’ ‘No Complaints,’ ‘Iced Out My Arms,’ Perfect Timing, ‘Blue Pill,’ ‘Yellow,’ Rubba Band Business, C U L T U R E
I’ve been showing mad love to the whole Griselda crew during this list season, so let’s keep the grime going. Out of all the camps in 2017 few went harder than this team. And the brains behind the operation? This man. Mothaf*ckin’ Daringer. Whether he was working in-house with Conway, Gunn, Benny and company, or producing for the likes of Action Bronson and MF DOOM, Daringer brought the heat all 12 months. Already has the makings of a legend if you’re asking me.
Notable Feats: ‘Gorilla Monsoon,’ G.O.A.T., Blue Chips 7000, Hitler on Steroids, Butcher on Steroids, Reject on Steroids, ‘RIP Bobby,’ More Steroids, ‘RAW IS FLYGOD,’ ‘Easter Gunday 2,’ Hitler Wears Hermes 5, ‘Bullet Club’
4) Statik Selektah
Speaking of legends! One thing I loved most about Statik this year is how he effortlessly bridged generations together. He’s connected with pretty much every elite DJ in the game at this point – everyone from Premo to Tony Touch – AND the dude constantly stays in-tune with the new school as well. Peep his work with Joey, Anoyd, Wiki and Joyner Lucas, for instance. His eighth studio album 8 also dropped this year; flawless production front to back. Thanks for making New England proud.
Notable Feats: 8, All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$, ‘How Many,’ ‘Love is Only a Feeling,’ ShowOff Radio, Anti-Hero, ‘500 Benz,’ What Happened to Fire?, A Time and Place, 508-507-2209, More Steroids, ‘Exorcism,’ ‘Too Lit’
In terms of output, Knxw might get the crown in 2017. On top of producing for everyone from Mach-Hommy to Prodigy to Roc Marci, he also put out over 10 projects! His remix of Yes Lawd! especially blew my mind, sounded like a completely different album. Something about this artist’s production feels like home to me. That’s all I can really say. Loved every second I heard from him in 2017 and cannot wait to hear what’s in store for 2018.
Notable Feats: WT.PRT10.8_, The Spook…, GREENTXTS.V1, Blue Chips 7000, Yes Lawd! Remixes, Rosebudd’s Revenge, WT.PRT.11_, HX11.8_, MEEK.VOL1_, WT.11_8, Tha Dark Shogunn Saga Vol. 2, Earl Sweatshirt & Knxwledge Stay Inside
2) The Alchemist
Uncle Al. The galactic sound creator and MPC devastator. Can’t even begin to say how big this dude’s year was. He sounds like he’s in the best producing shape of his life, which is insane, cause ALC has been doing this for nearly 30 years. We heard his nastiness all throughout the mainstream and underground – his instrumental on ‘Fear’ by Kendrick alone can be discussed for years to come. It just felt like any time you saw someone worth f*ckin’ with this year, Alchemist had had his fingerprints on it someway. Either he had worked with them in the past, or he was working with them currently, it didn’t matter. Alchemist was synonymous with greatness in 2017; somewhere out there in the heavens I know Prodigy is looking down with pride.
Notable Feats: The Good Book Volume 2., Fantasy Island EP, DAMN., ‘Throw it All Away,’ PACKS, French Blend, ‘Brand Name,’ Moving Parts, Hegelian Dialectic, Being You is Great I Wish I Could Be You More Often, ‘DOOMSAYERS,’ ‘Warning Shot,’ ‘Disrespekt,’ French Blend Pt. 2, ‘Fresh,’ ‘2Stings’
1) 9th Wonder
It took a lot of thinking for me to pick 9th as 2017’s top producer, so let me break down my reasoning. First, every beat I heard this dude produce this year was simply fuego. Always filled with soul, 9th’s production is almost a guaranteed 10/10 every time. And that’s just insane. To be of that high-quality and that consistent is nearly impossible. Next, he was featured on some of the year’s biggest albums. His production on the Kendrick track ‘DUCKWORTH.’ brings the whole DAMN. album together with great finesse and skill – we owe a lot to that track. Straight up. Not only does it showcase some of the best storytelling Kenny has ever spit, but it also fills us in on his wild origin story. AND THOSE BEAT SWITCHES!!!!!
He also executively produced the masterpiece that is Laila’s Wisdom, releasing the LP through his “Jamla” imprint. Oh, and while we’re on it, have I mentioned Reuben Vincent? The future of hip hop? Dude is only 17 years old and already incredibly skilled. Who found the dude though? 9th did. Who signed the dude? 9th did. Who executively produced his debut project? 9th did.
Don’t forget GQ’s album too! 9th executively produced his E 14th project too. Whether it was the music side or the business side, 9th was on top this year. He seems to have crafted the perfect path for hip hop success, and it starts with focused positivity, hard work and a clear mind. Recognize talent early, push and groom this talent, and then strike when the timing is right. Hats off, Mr. Wonder. You filled the year full of your last name and inspired me in ways I cannot express. This isn’t hip hop any more. This is soul music.
Notable Feats: Laila’s Wisdom, Myers Park, DAMN., Zion II, E 14th, Loyalty is Royalty, Selfish, The Lost Tapes, Jamla Records
Mike Will Made It
Tha God Fahim
Tyler, The Creator
London on Da Track
*more honorable mentions to possibly come*
images via Earl Sweatshirt, 9th Wonder, Red Bull Music Academy, 9th Wonder, Lee V., No I.D., The Code, Monte Booker, Kirk Knight, Daringer, Metro Boomin, Statik Selektah, The Alchemist, Knxwledge, Complex & All rightful photographers
– Benny P