It’s safe to say Los Angeles had an incredible 2018. Artists in the city are hungrier than ever as the wins are starting to roll in, and as a result we’ve been blessed with treasure troves of new music at every turn. Whether they were high-energy cuts for the function, or breezier sounds perfect for California sunshine, there was always something out there for you to sink your teeth into, and now co-signs from artists like Drake and Meek Mill are putting even more eyes on the city heading into 2019.
That being said, it’s time to look back on the past 12 months and separate the best from the best, and acknowledge the artists, songs and projects that made it such a note worthy year. Without further ado, here are our top ten producers of 2018.
Honorable mentions: Ace the Face, JR, Bigg Boo
S.prod first made it onto our radar back in 2017 with “Da Cookie” by AzChike & AzBenzz, and he had an explosive 2018 campaign which led to his name being on this list. His work on 1TakeJay’s “Arco” is a major accomplishment in itself, with an eerie vocal sample and a baseline that tumbled in your eardrums. Additional records with AlmightySuspect, AzCult, Es Och & 1TakeQuan round out one of the most complete resumés in the city. Not to mention, “S.prod on the beat” gets us hyped everytime we hear it start a track. – Sebastian Juarez
9. Arjay on the Beat
Arjay’s tag is a seal, a guarantee that you’re about to turn up for the next 2-3 minutes. His beats are mixed well, and are colorful and high-paced everytime. Arjay makes melodic beats with bells, chimes and synths, that compliment the relatively aggressive delivery from the rappers that hop on. If you were at any LA function this year, you could hear the drums for “Shake Some” playing at some point, ripping through the party and sending a shockwave that got everybody moving. He has the ability to make more radio-friendly songs as well, a sign of true dexterity that’s sure to take him far. We’ve always been supporting him here, but it’s easy when he’s making hits at the pace he does. – Moises Valencia
8. Yike Mike
The man responsible for this year’s best Almighty challenges like “PlanetRock” and “WhyYouBullshittin’,” Yike Mike had to be on this list. The young producer has quickly made a name for himself with these loud, thoroughly raw beats, as well as his work on some of Blueface’s biggest songs to date. It’s early in Mike’s career, but he has the talent and the hunger to do big things in the next year, and top the notable things he’s already achieved. – Moises Valencia
7. Bruce 24k
Many of Bruce24k’s beats have a restrained, yet magnificent energy, with atmospheric synths that set a hazy home for his thunderous basslines. Look to the recent track “Pressure” by Shoreline Mafia to see why he’s becoming a household name, with Bruce’s colorful beat that never overshadows the vocals from OhGeesy and Fenix above it. Earlier this year he was all over 1Take Jay’s Wait Hol Up as well, producing the beats behind “DatWay,” “Nasty,” and “Show Me.” We can’t wait to see what he’s coming with in 2019; if it’s anything like this year, there are plenty of gems on the way. – Kenan Draughorne
The HitMob collective has many big names under its umbrella, like Ron-Ron & LowTheGreat, but one of the more under the radar producers on the roster is JoogFTR. His beats are often times more complex than his HitMob team members, relying on a wide variety of basses, claps and snares that aren’t heard from anyone else. His biggest record in 2018 was Drakeo & Greedo’s sinister collaboration “Ion Rap Beef,” but Joog has his fingers on a lot of LA music, like AzSWAYE’s SwayeFTR album and “Pan Handler” by SaysoTheMac & Rob Vicious, while he even contributed vocals on songs like “For Them Bands” off of LowTheGreat’s Vicky project. JoogFTR is the backbone of HitMob, guiding and advising the rest of the roster on their quest to change and shape the sound of contemporary LA rap. – Sebastian Juarez
5. Scum Beatz
Perhaps the only rise that’s comparable to that of Blueface this year is the one that his go-to producer, Scumbeatz, experienced. He’s got no tag and a very minimal social media presence, yet already has an ever expanding list of massive hits. The musical mind behind “Deadlocs” and “Thotiana” doesn’t get the shine that his rapper partner does, but he seems to be just fine with that. Blueface was quick to say in an interview with Genius that he wrote “Thotiana” to the beat, so without Scumbeatz, parties in LA wouldn’t have gotten to experience that delightfully ratchet moment every time it dropped.
2019 will be all about who Scumbeatz decides to work with. We know what he can do with Blueface, but if he can cook up hits with the rest of the city, we’re looking at LA’s next super producer. – Sebastian Juarez
4. Mike Crook
LA’s top dogs are going to Crook, and he’s not letting them down. The beatmaker landed multiple placements on Rucci and 1Take Jay’s The Winning Team, including the swaggering “Can’t Tell Me Shit” with it’s sparkling synths and booming bassline. On “Slidin’” by Blueface, he follows a similar formula, contrasting the upper-octave keys with deep, resonating 808’s to keep the atmosphere dynamic. Mike Crook has found his signature sound and it’s working, keeping him busy with the high-profile appearances that validate his standing in the city. – Kenan Draughorne
Blink twice, and you might miss another handful of drops from Paupa. The producer had his hands on almost everything this year, popping up on TwoFr, $tupid Young’s True Story and more while crafting the entirety of projects from artists like Rozay Royce and Prince Kofi. Paupa is a masterful creator of lush melodies that are anchored by an irresistible bounce, shining whether an artist is spitting his life story or crooning a softer R&B tune. It’s the versatility matched with the work ethic that makes him such a noteworthy figure, one who’s impossible to ignore when looking back on 2018. – Kenan Draughorne
Ron-Ron needs no introduction. He may be the most influential on this list as the de-facto leader of the HitMob collective, who’s cultivated a sound that is both mesmerizing and hard-hitting with unique, interesting melodies. It’s dark, it’s energetic, it’s drowsy, it rumbles and quakes — to put it simply, it’s everything LA is looking for. He’s executive-produced some of the most notable projects of this year with consistency, and while his work with R Baron artists like Shoreline Mafia, 03 Greedo and Drakeo have brought him notoriety, collaborations with countless other artists have spread his impact wide. – Moises Valencia
1. Low the GREAT
The king of spare but thumping beats, Low The Motherfucking Great takes the title this year. His distinct style that blends old West Coast/Hyphy flavors with a modern twist truly sets him apart, so much so that his bouncing beat patterns have almost become synonymous with the new LA. The influence of the sound can be heard everywhere, from the underground to the mega hit “Bounce Out With That” by West Coast admirer YBN Nahmir. It’s hard to boil this down to just one song or one project — his solo projects are equally strong — because he’s been all over the map this year. Countless artists owe their sound to him, and it’s likely that if you turned a roulette of 2018 West Coast hits, you’d fall on more than a few by Low. – Moises Valencia