Hip-hop has been getting a bad rap of late; some say the quality of rhyme has dropped off in recent years. Sure, the times they have a changed since hip-hop’s golden era, but let’s not focus on the artist and lyrics, but look to the brains behind the music instead.
We can’t let hip-hop take all the accolades here, though - we’ve also included the finest trap, grime and R&B producers to have made a mark on 2017.
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5. Mike Will Made It
Michael Len Williams II is often associated with the rasping, aggressive sound of Southern hip-hop, but he can churn out a killer pop tune too – just look at tracks like Ciara’s R&B anthem Body Party or Rihanna’s sleek banger Pour It Up.
In the past two years alone, he’s chalked up production credits on Rae Sremmurd’s Black Beatles, Beyoncé’s Formation and Kendrick’s Humble, any one of which alone is the sort of once-in-a-career high-point most producers would give their right arm to create.
As a band in their own right, Canadian outfit BadBadNotGood have been making waves for a few years now with their smart blend of instrumental hip-hop, jazz and leftfield electronics.
They’re more than just a fringe act though, having penetrated the heart of modern hip-hop culture with collabs and production credits for the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown and Earl Sweatshirt.
3. Metro Boomin
Despite still being in the lower half of his 20s, St Louis native Leland Tyler Wayne has firmly established himself as one of the most sought-after and trusted names in hip-hop.
From Kanye to Drake and regular collaborator Future, Metro is the person some of rap’s biggest artists turn to when they need a killer beat. And with credits on tracks like Migos’s Bad & Boujee and Post Malone’s Congratulations, he can lay claim to some of the biggest hits of the past couple of years to boot.
2. DJ Khaled
Chart-bothering Khaled might not have the underground credibility of some of his rap production peers, but you can’t fault the quality of company he keeps; the likes of Beyonce, Drake, Chance The Rapper, Future and Migos all put in appearances on this year’s album Grateful.
There’s no denying his ear for a great tune too – you’ve got to be seriously po-faced if you can’t admit to the infectiousness of tracks like I’m The One or Wild Thoughts.
Over his near 25 year career as a member of Company Flow, a prolific producer and a solo artist in his own right, New York rapper and beat maker Jaime Meline has made a name for himself as one of the key figureheads of creative, underground hip-hop.
However, it’s as a member of Run The Jewels, the duo he formed with Killer Mike in 2013, the El-P has really found his peak. RTJ3, released at the tail end of 2016, is probably their strongest statement yet – a rap album bolder, funkier and more political than anything else released in the 12 months since.