Let the Beat Build
Words: Roger Krastz
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

South Florida was the hot spot for new hip-hop talent last year. With Lil Pump, Ski Mask The Slump God, XXXTentacion and Smokepurpp all over SoundCloud and beyond, the young artists dominated the year. Now Ronny J, who first got in the game in 2015, seeks to duplicate that success.

At the helm of the sound of the new movement is 25-year-old producer and artist Ronny J, who has helped mold the gritty, lo-fi sounds of today’s rap scene in the Gunshine State. His biggest records to date include Ski Mask The Slump God’s “Take a Step Back,” Lil Pump’s “Flex Like Ouu” and Denzel Curry’s “Ultimate,” to name a few. This past February, Ronny dropped his debut mixtape, OMG Ronny. Now the Atlantic Records signee looks to continue his movement.

XXL: What made you want to get into music production?

Ronny J: During my second semester of college, my boy Charlie Heat was producing music and he started making hella noise in the Tri-State. So, Charlie is really the person who inspired me to start producing. I knew if he could do it...and that’s when I decided to take my talents to Miami.

What was your first big break as a producer?

It had to be when “Threatz” dropped featuring Denzel Curry, Yung Simmie and Robb Bank$. That thing dropped around Christmastime of 2012, and it kind of just went viral. It was like, a new sound that people never heard and it was hella consistent and just dark and grimy.

How would you describe your sound?

I honestly think my sound is unorthodox and different to what everyone else is doing. It’s real dirty and dark with heavy drums behind it, but I can easily make all types of records.

Your production has been a major part of Ski Mask The Slump God and XXXTentacion’s career. How did you link with them?

I met Ski and X through Denzel. Like, basically I was living with Denzel at the time and they came by the house. That same day we got into the studio because we had a studio at the crib and we just made a song called “Hit the Dirt.” After that they just kept on coming over every day.

What’s it like to work with Smokepurpp and Lil Pump in the studio?

There’s been times we didn’t record anything. There’s times when those guys knock songs out back to back. One thing I do notice when I’m with them is that we work much better when there’s no one in the studio because we get so much done but the chemistry is really cool. It’s super fun and I love it.

Who else have you produced for recently?

I’ve been working with everybody. From Desiigner and Swae Lee to Travis Scott. I’m working with The-Dream. I’m working with Young Thug. I’m working with everybody. Like, Ronny J for everybody.

Check out more from XXL’s Spring 2018 issue including our two cover stories with G-Eazy and 21 Savage, Show & Prove with Trippie Redd, Cole Bennett's rise as a music video director, Show & Prove with J.I.D, Evidence's thoughts on the future of hip-hop, Show & Prove with Tee Grizzley, the power of Lil B's positivity and more.

See Photos from G-Eazy and 21 Savage's XXL Magazine Spring 2018 Cover Shoot

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