Behind every great track is a great producer, and 2011 featured an array of talents behind the boards. From burgeoning upstarts to already acclaimed heavyweights, there was a lot to choose from. It doesn’t just take producing a hit record to be considered the hottest, the impact of that track is also a huge deciding factor. As the year winds down, XXL ranks the 10 top producers of 2011. Let the debate begin… —XXL Staff
Pittsburgh production duo, ID Labs—comprised of E. Dan and Big Jerm— will be closing 2011 with a couple notches under their belts. Crafting tracks such as Mac Miller’s “Knock Knock,” Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers tracks “When I’m Gone” and “The Race.”
“Drumma on the track” was a familiar phrase this year as the Memphis native made his presence felt on a slew of popular hits including Drama’s summer smash “Oh My,” Jeezy’s street salvo “Flexin,” Wiz Khalifa’s brooding Cabin Fever highlight “Phone Numbers” and more.
Hands down, Hit-Boy has one of the year’s best songs in the Throne’s blustering “Niggas In Paris.” Also responsible for Pusha T’s irrefutable “My God” expect a big year for the burgeoning G.O.O.D producer in 2012.
Just when many counted him out after having a big year in 2010 with Ross’ “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast),” Smoked Out Luger delivered once again in 2011. Despite getting criticism for sounding repetitive and the underwhelming “H.A.M” earlier in the year, Luger recovered on Wale’s tantalizing “That Way,” Ace Hood’s block smash “Hustle Hard,” and Ross’ iPhone jingle, “9 Piece.”
It’s somewhat hard not to give Just the top spot after having a hand in an array of projects this year. Besides crafting the bulk of Saigon’s oft-delayed The Greatest Story Never Told and spots on Joell Ortiz’s Free Agent (“Battle Cry”), as well as Mac Miller’s Best Day Ever (“All Around the World”), Just’s true highlights came when he upped the ante on records like the clattering Self Made, Vol. 1 opener, “Self Made,” Ross’ “I Luv My Bitches,” and Drake’s “Lord Knows.” Justin Blaze was back on his circa Dynasty era bullshit. With more heat in the works, 2012 is shaping up to be one interesting year.
Noah "40" Shebib
It’s extremely difficult to overlook the grandeur that was Watch the Throne this year. One of the pivotal reasons it was such an impactful project was the sound architect, Kanye West. Despite not having an array of production credits outside of the collaborative effort, 'Ye managed to craft himself one of the best and most important albums in recent memory. Now, how’s that for getting high on your own supply.
With all the singles that came out this year, T-Minus was on one hell of a run. The Toronto producer captured mainstream attention with successful hits such as Nicki Minaj's "Moment 4 Life," the irresistible “I’m On One,” the strip club denizen’s anthem “She Will,” and also playing a major role on Drake’s Take Care producing five of the 19 tracks, including current singles “Make Me Proud” and “The Motto.”
Dion's been a problem, but he finally earned recognition for his beats this year. Not only did the Chi-town O.G. help shape up Big Sean’s Finally Famous debut—which garnered success with the certified gold single, “My Last”— he’s also had a hand in Watching the Throne (“Primetime”), worked on J. Cole’s Cole World (“Never Told”) as well as crafting Common’s The Dreamer/The Believer.