iStandard Selects The XXL 2014 Freshmen Producers
We hit up the company’s founders, J. Hatch and Don Di Napoli, and asked them to weigh in on which producers were making the most noise behind the boards, and which beatmakers were primed to break out into the big time over the next 12 months. Check out the 2014 XXL Freshman Producers class, and peep J. Hatch (JH) and Don (DD)’s commentary on each. Let the beat build.
istandard beat camp
CardiakName: Carl McCormick
Hometown: Willingboro, New Jersey
Sounds Like: Intense thumping drums with anxious build-ups
Notable Songs: Lloyd Banks featuring Kanye West, Swizz Beatz, Ryan Leslie and Fabolous, "Start It Up"; Eminem, "Groundhog Day"
Don Di Napoli: Hailing from Philadelphia suburb Willingboro, NJ, Cardiak's career was "started up" on a record featuring heavyweights Kanye West, Swizz Beatz, Fabolous, Ryan Leslie, and Lloyd Banks, aptly titled "Start It Up." Since then, this iStandard Alumnus' "Flatline" tag line has become more and more omnipresent, prequeling songs with everyone from Eminem to Rick Ross to Meek Mill. Cardiak's hard-hitting drums and no-nonsense approach to production lends itself to a timeless sound and a long, prosperous career with everyone's favorite MCs.
CardoName: Ronald La Tour
Hometown: St. Paul, Minn.
Sounds Like: Mannie Fresh meets DJ Quik
Notable Songs: Meek Mill, "Levels"; Wiz Khalifa, "In Tha Cut"
J. Hatch: This Minnesota-born, Dallas transplant beatsmith first jumped onto the scene with Taylor Gang in 2010. His infectious melodies and powerful drums caught the ears of Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, and Chevy Woods immediately, which landed his production on Wiz's critically acclaimed Kush & Orange Juice project. Cardo definitely paid his dues in the mixtape world, worked his way through the industry, and eventually got his wings by producing "Levels" for Meek Mill. Cardo's resume now includes records with Snoop Dogg, Yo Gotti, Curren$y, and much more.
cardo got wings
Childish MajorName: Markus Randle
Hometown: Edgefield, SC
Sounds Like: Soulful
Notable Songs: DJ Toomp meets DJ Paul
JH: After producing one of 2013's biggest records, "U.O.E.N.O," for Rocko and providing the backdrop for Rick Ross' controversial lyrics about underage females dining on molly and champagne concoctions, Childish Major was thrown into the ring as one of the hottest new production talents in the game. With an upcoming collaboration on Big K.R.I.T.'s new album Cadillactica on the way, Childish Major is here to stay.
David “D.A.” DomanName: David Doman
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Sounds Like: Futuristic trap pop
Notable Songs: Young Money, "Senile"; Tyga featuring 2 Chainz, "Do My Dance"
DD: Chicago-bred and L.A.-based, David "D.A." Doman has helped craft young Compton MC Tyga's sound since he first burst onto the scene. His ultra catchy single "Do My Dance," which also featured 2 Chainz, went gold in 2012. This prompted Tyga's label mates Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne to enlist Doman to produce the first single off of Young Money's 2014 compilation, Rise Of An Empire, titled "Senile." The lyrical prowess from the crew's leader, first lady, and prince was praised as being some of their best in years, due to Doman's ability to create a pocket for the MCs to shine. Look out for much more from this tireless iStandard alum, as he has scheduled releases with Fabolous, A$AP Ferg, and Chris Brown in the near future.
david d.a. doman
DJ DahiName: Dacoury Natche
Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.
Sounds Like: Melodic dream pop-influenced hip hop
Notable Songs: Kendrick Lamar, "Money Trees"; Drake, "Worst Behavior"
DD: Another Los Angeles-based DJ/producer to add to the mix, DJ Dahi is best known for his critically-acclaimed "Money Trees" track on Kendrick Lamar's late-2012 masterpiece, good kid, m.A.A.d city. The track brilliantly interweaves Beach House's "Silver Soul" throughout, along with featuring fellow TDE mate Jay Rock. The momentum continued, as Dahi's atmospheric sound was enlisted to produce Drake's "Worst Behaviour" off of 2013's Nothing Was The Same, as well as 2013 standouts from ScHoolboy Q, Vic Mensa, Casey Veggies, Smoke DZA, and more.
FrequencyName: Bryan Fryzel
Hometown: Rockville Centre, New York
Sounds Like: Pete Rock meets Dr. Luke
Notable Songs: Eminem featuring Rihanna, "The Monster"; Machine Gun Kelly and Anna Yvette, “All We Have”
JH: This New York-based DJ/producer/iStandard Alum has been around the game creating records for some of your favorites—Snoop Dogg, Raekwon, Game and more—as well as playing a consistent gig as Slaughterhouse's tour DJ, since early 2009. This year was the turning point for Frequency, however; after producing "The Monster" for Eminem (featuring Rihanna) from Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP 2, he has created a demand for his hit-making capacity and is quickly becoming one of today's most sought-after producers.
!llMindName: Ramon Ibanga Jr.
Hometown: Bloomfield, NJ
Sounds Like: Boom Trap—boom bap meets trap
Notable Songs: Kanye West featuring Pusha T, Common, CyHi Da Prynce, 2 Chainz, Kid Cudi, D'Banj and Raekwon, "The Morning"; 50 Cent featuring Kidd Kidd, "When I Pop The Trunk”
DD: The originator of "Boom Trap" saw some commercial success with G.O.O.D. Music's "The Morning" from 2012's Cruel Summer, featuring the all-star line-up of Kanye West, Raekwon, Pusha T, Common, 2 Chainz, CyHi The Prynce, Kid Cudi and D'banj. Although not new to the world of production, over the past few years !llMind has branded himself as one of the go-to gurus, offering his highly popular BLAP Sound Kit series, hosting the B.L.A.P. producer cyphers, teaching and lending advice at the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at NYC and iStandard's Beat Camp, as well as keeping his Twitter followers engaged with priceless jewels of knowledge. !llMind was recently spotted in L.A. collaborating with the likes of Dr. Dre, Focus, and DJ Khalil, so the world will be highly anticipating what's to result from this meeting of heavyweights.
K.E. On The TrackName: Kevin Erondu
Hometown: Tampa, Fla.
Sounds Like: Lex Lugar meets Bink!
Notable Songs: Rick Ross featuring Jay Z, "The Devil Is A Lie"; DJ Khaled, "I'm So Blessed"
JH: The blaring horns, haunting vocal sample and creative drum programming on Rick Ross' Mastermind single "The Devil Is A Lie" pits K.E. On The Track as the go-to producer for epic anthem records. With fame follows controversy, as an up-and-coming producer named Major Seven claimed via Twitter that he was the real producer, but they have since worked out their issue. No newcomer to game, just a new name to get familiar with, K.E. has produced records for Nicki Minaj, DJ Khaled, Future, Wiz Khalifa and many more.
k.e. on the track
M-PhazesName: Mark Landon
Hometown: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Sounds Like: Anthematic and ethereal with hard-hitting drums
Notable Songs: Eminem, "Bad Guy"; Pharoahe Monch featuring DJ Revolution, "Get Down"
DD: We at iStandard first caught wind of M-Phazes at our showcase at 2008's One Stop Shop Producer's Conference, where Australia's most notorious urban producer tore the house down in front of some of hip-hop production's royalty. In 2013 his world expand from Melbourne to Detroit, as he landed a co-production placement on the opening track on Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP 2 titled "Bad Guy." Phazes' ethereal yet hard-hitting compositions helped set the tone for Em's critically acclaimed and highly successful release, as well as future work with the likes of Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli, and even international superstars Kimbra and Gotye. Look out for this overseas wonder to add some Grammys to his shelf, which already is abundant with ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Music Awards.
Metro BoominName: Leland Wayne
Hometown: St Louis, Mo.
Sounds Like: Shawty Redd meets Young Chop
Notable Songs: Future, "Karate Chop"; Future featuring Kanye West, "I Won"
JH: Born in St Louis and now an ATLien, Metro Boomin is making quite the name for himself. After releasing his 19 & Boomin mixtape, the now-20-year-old has compiled records with some of today's newest talents such as Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, Que and many more. It was his stand out hypnotic production on Future's "Karate Chop" that lit the trap world on fire and has him in serious demand, leading to his placements on YG's My Krazy Life and Future's Honest, two albums that already debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in 2014.
Mike ZombieName: William Michael Coleman
Hometown: Willingboro, NJ
Sounds Like: Noah "40" Shebib meets Havoc
Notable Songs: Drake, "Started From The Bottom"; DJ Khaled, "They Don't Love You No More"
JH: Within the first 10 seconds of Drake's smash hit "Started From The Bottom" off Nothing Was The Same you hear a vocal signature that lets you know Mike Zombie is about to take your ears on a journey. A calm before the storm, eery-yet-airy filter combined with in-your-face head-nodding drums had everyone bopping along to this rags-to-riches instant classic. Currently signed as a producer to Drake's OVO Records, you can bet that this Jersey-born producer will be a busy man in years to come.
mike zombie drake
Nate FoxName: Nate Fox
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Sounds Like: Acid washed Midwest sampling
Notable Songs: Chance The Rapper, "Juice"; "Favorite Song"
DD: If, by chance, you heard Chance The Rapper's Acid Rap, you've heard Pittsburgh (by way of Ohio) Nate Fox's sample-laden soundscapes. Fox not only produced "Juice," "Lost," "Favorite Song" and "Chain Smoker," he was also appointed Executive Producer of the critically-acclaimed 2013 release. His production caught the ears of Lil Wayne, and Fox and Chance the Rapper were enlisted for a standout track on Weezy's Dedication 5 mixtape, called "You Song," featuring yet another cleverly placed sample—an a capella version Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel."
SKYWLKRName: Skylar Tait
Hometown: Detroit, Mich.
Sounds Like: Soulful
Notable Songs: Heavy Metal meets hip hop after a long night of partying together
DD: Detroit MC Danny Brown is known for his unpredictable antics and scattery, yet witty, rhymes. SKYWLKR is his perfect producer match, lacing "Dip," the first single from Brown's Old, as well as three others on the haunting 2013 release. SKYWLKR has a background playing bass and drums in metal bands, and it's clearly present in the drudgy basslines and earth-shattering drums which are signatures of his work. One of the more unique producers on this year's list, be sure to check out some of his instrumental mixtapes on his BandCamp page, and prepare to take a walk through the sky.
VinylzName: Anderson Hernandez
Hometown: New York, New York
Sounds Like: 1980's New Wave influence meets today's top rappers
Notable Songs: Jay Z featuring Rick Ross, “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt”; Drake featuring Birdman, "The Language"
DD: Straight outta New York City's Washington Heights neighborhood, Vinylz has been mentored by Toronto's Boi-1da, and his apprenticeship paid off in a big way in 2013. Landing placements on two of the year's biggest releases ("FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt" from Jay Z's Magna Carta...Holy Grail and "The Language" on Drake's Nothing Was The Same), expect to see Vinylz' name on the credits of your favorite MC's projects sooner than later. Vinylz takes the "quality over quantity" approach to his production, understanding the artist's voice is also an instrument, and not bombarding his work with extra frills and sound. Check his co-production alongside Boi-1da on the first single off Lil Wayne's Tha Carter V, "Believe Me," if you need more convincing.
WondagurlName: Ebony Oshunrinde
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Sounds Like: Zaytoven Meets Mike Will
Notable Songs: Jay Z, "Crown"
JH: This Canadian (by the way of Nigeria) teen producer for Jay Z's "Crown" is just beginning her career, and has already made quite the name for herself. Once Jay entered into the world of sports agency himself, and took a stab at highly-accredited sports agent Scott Boras on the first verse of the Magna Carta...Holy Grail track, Wondagurl's stock rose immediately. Her production on "Crown" boasts attention-grabbing vocal samples, standout synths, and heavy-hitting drums all while allowing Hov to murder the beat.