Freshman season wouldn’t be complete without a look at the burgeoning wizards behind the boards. After all, what’s a Macklemore without a Ryan Lewis? And what’s a goon to a goblin? Anyway, now that the Freshman Class of 2013 has been revealed, it’s time to get familiar with some of the producers that will be sure to make much of the music the Freshman MCs will rhyme over. When it comes to beats, the good folks over at iStandard Producers are our go-to guys. We hit up the company’s founders, J. Hatch and Don Di Napoli, who are in the midst of preparing for the launch of Beat Camp, a producer’s one-stop-shop event for branding, management, mixing, sampling, networking and more. Beat Camp kicks off May 17th, and will makes stops in Miami, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York. Check out the 2013 XXL Freshman Producers class and peep J. Hatch (JH) and Don (DD)’s commentary after the jump.

A$AP Ty Beat$

Name: Ty’Shaun Holloway

Age: 19

Hometown: Hampton, VA; Harlem, NY

Sounds Like: Southern-infused foggy music

Notable Songs: “Gotham City,” by A$AP Mob; "Peso,” by A$AP Rocky; “NigHtmare on Figg St.,” by ScHoolboy Q

JH: A$AP Ty Beat$ pretty much set the tone for A$AP Rocky's introduction into the world of rap. With "Peso," he created a laid-back musical storyline with memorable drums, and he hasn't disappointed since.

Black Metaphor

Name: Byron Forest

Age: 23

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Sounds Like: Soulful samples

Notable Songs: “Sanctuary,” by French Montana; “Ali Bomaye,” by Game featuring 2 Chainz and Rick Ross; “In God We Trust,” by Meek Mill; “Get Right,” by Jeezy

DD: Black Metaphor has been showing his skills at the iStandard Producer Showcase since 2010 and was bound to break out with a major artist. Recognition started to come with Young Jeezy's 2012 single "Get Right," which served as a return to form for the ATL MC. Metaphor's hard-knocking drums lay the foundation for excellent sample selections, ranging from current artists (The Weeknd) to artists of yore (Roberta Flack).


Name: Jahmal Gwin

Age: 34

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Sounds Like: Sample-heavy Midwestern meets New York boom-bap

Notable Songs: “Lives,” by Cyhi The Prynce featuring Kris Stephens; “White Dress,” by Kanye West; “New God Flow,” by G.O.O.D. Music featuring Kanye West, Ghostface Killah, Pusha T; “Only You Can Tell It,” by Pusha T featuring Wale

DD: One of the most recognizable intros of 2012 was Boogz' World War II era "Somebody!" sample, from "Sound Off (The Duckworth Chant)" by Private Willie Duckworth on Cruel Summer's "New God Flow." Talk about obscure. Look out for this Chicago-bred producer to create some classics with your Top 5 MCs, as his sound is as timeless as it is fresh. 

Chuck Strangers

Name: Che Jessamy

Age: 21

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Sounds Like: Classic New York boom-bap music

Notable Songs: “Smart Water,” by Casey Veggies; “Daily Routine,” by Joey Bada$$; “FromdaTomb$,” by Joey Bada$$; “Suspects,” by Joey Bada$$

DD: Looks like Brooklyn is back on the map, as Flatbush's own Joey Bada$$ has taken the world by storm. Crafting some of his finest work, Chuck Strangers’ sound can be described as atmospheric hip-hop with mesmerizing loops, laying the perfect foundation for an MC to tie up their laces. Also, working with newer favorites like Casey Veggies and the recently deceased Captial Steez (R.I.P.) means Chuck won't be a stranger anymore...

DJ Mustard

Name: Dijon McFarlane

Age: 22

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Sounds Like: Ratchet music

Notable Songs: “R.I.P.,” by Jeezy featuring 2 Chainz; “Rack City,” by Tyga; “I’m Different,” by 2 Chainz

JH: The “MustardOnTheBeatHo” is a tag one can't just forget, and for the last year or so DJ Mustard has owned the club. He has a knack for creating anthem-type songs for the artists he works with. Although his beats aren't very complex, his simple yet melodic approach makes him one of the most sought out producers today.

Harry Fraud

Name: Harry Fraud

Age: 26

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Sounds Like: New York tinged, sample heavy, foggy music

Notable Songs: “Morey Boogie Boards,” by Action Bronson; “Shot Caller,” by French Montana featuring Charlie Rock; “New York Minute,” by French Montana featuring Jadakiss; “Stoners Night 2,” by Juicy J featuring Wiz Khalifa

JH: “LaMusicDeHarryFraud” is another heavy tag heard throughout 2012. By lacing the likes of French Montana and Action Bronson with some serious sample flips and club anthems, Fraud has proved the opposite of what his name suggests. His sound is NY with a universal twist. It’s going to keep him a busy guy within New York’s hip-hop renaissance.

Hudson Mohawke

Name: Ross Birchard

Age: 27

Hometown: Glasgow, Great Britain

Sounds Like: Hippy hardcore and techno

Notable Songs: “Bliss,” by G.O.O.D. Music featuring John Legend and Teyana Taylor; “To The World,” by G.O.O.D. Music featuring Kanye West, R. Kelly; “Goooo,” by TNGHT; “Higher Ground,” by TNGHT

DD: If you read any blogs this past year, one could not help notice writers from around the world gushing about the TNGHT EP and with good reason. Blending trap elements with spaced-out blippy keyboard lines, the project will have your neck broke from front to back. Did I mention he also produced on the Cruel Summer album? Yeah, big things coming for this British powerhouse.


Name: Carlo Montagnese

Age: 25

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sounds Like: Soulful, foggy R&B music

Notable Songs: “Crew Love,” by Drake featuring The Weeknd; “The Morning,” by The Weeknd; “The Zone,” by The Weeknd featuring Drake; “Remember You” by Wiz Khalifa featuring The Weeknd

DD: Something magical has happened in Toronto over the past half decade, as the talent is crossing the border at a rapid pace. Enter illangelo, who produced the bromance anthem of 2011, Drake's "Crew Love." Ever heard of it? Blending traditional house elements with Pop and R&B, illangelo is providing the soundtrack to your weekend. Umm, I mean, Weeknd.

Key Wane

Name: Dwane M. Weir II

Age: 22

Hometown: Detroit, MI

Sounds Like: Soulful instrumental music

Notable Songs: “Higher,” by Big Sean; “Memories,” by Big Sean; “Amen,” by Meek Mill ft. Drake; “Hypnotized,” by Tyga

JH: Key Wane is one of those producers who doesn't need a lot of light shined on him—he lets the music speak for itself. After linking up with hometown homie Big Sean, the two have created a nice catalog together. Wane also had a bit of controversy this year as the man behind the boards for Meek Mill's "Amen." Wane's midwest yet universal sound has created his lane and has the industry in demand for his creativity.


Name: Stepan Oleksyn

Age: 32

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

Sounds Like: Rock and pop-inspired music

Notable Songs: “Foreign,” by Cory Gunz; “Can You Believe It,” by Game featuring Lil Wayne, Birdman; “Mercy” by G.O.O.D. Music featuring Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz; “Get It,” by Los featuring XV

DD: What more can I say about Lifted's monstrous 2012? Not only was "Mercy" played on every radio station / boom box / iPod / bodega / outhouse, the Phoenix, AZ-bred producer also signed a production deal with G.O.O.D. Music.  Look out for this multi-talented cat, as his artist project The New F-O's may end up landing him on next year's the Freshmen ARTIST list!

Mike Will Made It

Name: Mike Williams

Age: 24

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Sounds Like: Club meets Atlanta trap music

Notable Songs: “Turn On The Lights,” by Future; “Bandz A Make Her Dance,” by Juicy J; “Bitches Love Me,” by Lil Wayne featuring Future and Drake; “No Lie,” by 2 Chainz featuring Drake

JH: #MikeWillMadeIt is the tag that made every artist in the game calling his name for material. His epic yet simplistic melodic approach to music has earned him some of the biggest hits in the last 2 years. From the clubs, to the whips, to the strip clubs to the radio, Mike Will has definitely made it. 

Paris Beuller

Name: Paris Beuller

Age: 26

Hometown: Chicago

Sounds Like: Drill Music

Notable Songs: “L’s Anthem,” by Lil Durk; “Wild Niggas,” by Lil Durk featuring Fredo Santana; “Beuller Shit,” by Paris Beuller; “Top & Bottom,” by Paris Beuller featuring Shawna

DD: Bringing a traditional trap sound to some of Chicago's hottest new MCs like Lil Durk, Paris Beuller had a promising 2012 that also saw him collaborate with the likes of Shawnna. It'll be exciting to see where he takes it this year.


Name: Mark Spears

Age: 27

Hometown: Compton, CA

Sounds Like: Classically sample-based hip-hop with a modern edge

Notable Songs: “A.D.H.D.” by Kendrick Lamar; “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” by Kendrick Lamar; “m.A.A.d. city,” by Kendrick Lamar featuring MC Eiht; “There He Go,” by ScHoolboy Q

DD - The West Coast is back, as Kendrick Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d city" was at the top of everyone's 2012 album list, including here at XXL. Lacing the most memorable tracks on the album ("Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe," "m.A.A.d. city," etc.), Sounwave is cognizant of one of the most overlooked aspects of production: breathing room. Sounwave sets the tone, creates the atmosphere and lets the MC do what they do.

The Beat Bully

Name: Anthony Tucker

Age: 21

Hometown: Chester, PA

Sounds Like: Sample-free club meets trap

Notable Songs: “I Did It For My Dawgz” by DJ Khaled featuring Rick Ross, Meek Mill, French Montana, Jadakiss; “House Party,” by Meek Mill; “Stay Schemin’,” by Rick Ross featuring Drake and French Montana; “So Sophisticated,” by Rick Ross featuring Meek Mill

JH: Talk about a talent, The Beat Bully had some of last year's biggest club records. You couldn't go to a club without hearing DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, French Montana or Meek Mill talking in a braggadocious manner over one of his drum-heavy, melodic, hook-driven records. Beat Bully is exactly what his name describes: They dont have a chance!

Young Chop

Name: Tyree Pittman

Age: 19

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Sounds Like: Drill Music

Notable Songs: "I Don't Like," by Chief Keef featuring Lil Reese; "Love Sosa," by Chief Keef; "3 Hunna," by Chief Keef featuring Soulja Boy; "Us," by Lil Reese

JH: Young Chop is one of the youngest new producers on the scene that helped introduce the world to Chicago's Chief Keef. Chop's big drums, haunting synths and distinctive trap sound have helped him garner his stake in the production game. I'd love to see Chop get more instrumental and work with more new artists outside his hometown.