Nearly two years ago, I published a Top 10 Producers list as my third article for Burbs. To my surprise, the article has still been gaining traction and sparking debate, so I decided to return with an updated Top 10 Producers list for 2020. Going forward, I'll be updating the list at the end of each year.
Despite all of 2020's adversities, it was one of the most exciting music years in recent memory. As usual, production has been a major highlight of the year's best music. This list has some familiar faces from last year, as well as a handful of newcomers. The talent pool was so strong this year that I decided to add an "honorable mention" section for additional producers who deserve recognition for their efforts in 2020. Without further ado, here are 2020's top producers.
Working on Dying
Working on Dying is a production collective comprised of Oogie Mane, F1lthy, and Brandon Finessin. They left their mark on 2020, making significant contributions to major albums such as Eternal Atake and Whole Lotta Red. They are without a doubt going to continue to shape the sound of trap in years to come.
You might remember Jay Versace from Vine or various social media memes over the years, but he also established himself as an in-demand producer this year. His unique, ethereal use of vintage samples has been tapped on songs such as "Versace" by Westside Gunn and "Lil Diamond Boy" by Lil Yachty, and he entirely produced Boldy James' The Versace Tape.
Atlanta producer Richie Souf is an enigma. He has managed to keep his face hidden from the public for his whole career, but that has not stopped him from working with the likes of Future, Young Thug, Gunna, Nicki Minaj, and Playboi Carti—serving as an important contributor to Whole Lotta Red. He is signed to Future's FBG label, making hits with Hendrix on a consistent basis.
Nascent is a soulful producer from Chicago who spans multiple genres. He first gained notoriety producing for the likes of Chance the Rapper and G Herbo, but he expanded into R&B this year—producing SZA's "Good Days," and Brent Faiyaz's "Clouded" and "Been Away," in addition to songs for Duckwrth, Guapdad4000, and TOBi. He also co-produced Saba and Denzel Curry's "Something In The Water."
Art Dealer epitomizes what it means to be a creative, serving as Playboi Carti's creative director and designer while also producing hits for him. He produced a large chunk of Whole Lotta Red, including standouts such as "Sky," "Over," "King Vamp," and "Control."
40 was at the #3 spot on my previous list, so it's tough relegating him to the honorable mentions. My first list was more general, but this list is more considerate of 2020 efforts. That being said, 40 had a fairly quiet year compared to usual. He co-produced "Deep Pockets" and "From Florida With Love" on Drake's Dark Lane Demo Tapes as well as a couple of tracks on PARTYNEXTDOOR's poorly-received Partymobile, but that was about it. Despite a decreased volume, he is still one of the most talented and important producers in the game who still deserves a shoutout. I'm willing to bet that we can anticipate ample amounts of 40 sauce on the forthcoming Certified Lover Boy.
10. Murda Beatz
Position on 2019 list: #7
No matter what you might think about his music, there's no denying that Murda is one of the smartest and hardest-working producers in the industry. He has amassed a versatile catalog of credits that is far more expansive than most producers his age. He continued the trend this year, working with an array of artists: Busta Rhymes, Ariana Grande, Ty Dolla Sign, Conway the Machine, Polo G, Teyana Taylor, PARTYNEXTDOOR, YNW Melly, Lil Baby, Chris Brown, Young Thug, and Migos, among many others.
9. Quay Global
Newcomer to the list
"Cook that shit up, Quay!" is among the most recognizable tags in today's trap landscape. Since 2017, Quay Global has been one of Lil Baby's primary beat suppliers. The dynamic duo has progressed together; this year, they helped each other shine on tracks such as "Woah," "Heatin Up," "All In," "Consistent," and "Can't Explain" off Baby's album My Turn. Quay also produced solid 2020 tracks for Lil Wayne, SAINt JHN, DaBaby, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, and Toosii.
8. Kenny Beats
Newcomer to the list
"Woah, Kenny!" has become another household tag in hip-hop, but this year Kenny Beats established himself as more than just a goofy producer with a memorable tag. The former EDM DJ turned rap producer/internet personality has been producing hits for years now, but he upped his game in 2020—cooking up with the likes of Rico Nasty, Smino, JID, Dominic Fike, Joji, Fivio Foreign, Key Glock, and Denzel Curry, who he released the experimental collab project Unlocked with. In addition to his diverse discography, he continued his video series The Cave and also proved himself as one of the most wholesome figures in the industry after crowdsourcing studio equipment for a young aspiring rapper.
Position on 2019 list: #5
Southside is so influential in contemporary hip-hop that even a relatively quiet year lands him at a comfortable spot in the Top 10. His most salient contributions this year were on collab projects with Doe Boy (Demons R Us) and Pyrex Whippa (Blood on the Hills), but he also produced a handful of tracks on Future's High Off Life and was responsible for hits such as "D4L" by Drake, "Flex Up" by Lil Yachty, and "Glock In My Lap" off 21 Savage and Metro Boomin's Savage Mode 2.
Position on 2019 list: #6
Boi-1da may be ranked at the same position as last year, but it makes sense—consistency has always been his strength. He didn't have the flashiest 2020, but he made his mark on the year's best music—producing hits such as "Tyler Herro" by Jack Harlow, "B.B. King Freestyle" by Lil Wayne and Drake, and "Feel a Way" by 2 Chainz, Kanye West, and Brent Faiyaz, while also contributing to albums from Kehlani, Amine, Big Sean, Joyner Lucas, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Giveon, and Jaden.
Position on 2019 list: #4
Wheezy is another consistent workhorse who is nearly guaranteed to find himself making an annual appearance on this list. The YSL associate boasted a solid collab project with Nav (Emergency Tsunami) and also provided a large presence on albums such as WUNNA by Gunna and High Off Life by Future. He further decorated his discography by producing gems for Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, Ty Dolla Sign, Lil Keed, and Trippie Redd.
4. Pi'erre Bourne
Position on 2019 list: #8
Pi'erre Bourne saw the largest jump in position from last year's list, and for good reason. Pi'erre has shown greatness ever since bursting onto the scene in 2017, but since the last time I released my Top 10 Producers list, he has proven a lot. He released his long-awaited The Life of Pi'erre 4 and its deluxe version, on which he handled all of the production. He enhanced numerous other 2020 projects with his production—Whole Lotta Red, Eternal Atake, Dark Lane Demo Tapes, and Lil Boat 3, to name a few. Most recently, Pi'erre delivered a solid collaborative effort with Sosshouse artist Chavo entitled Chavo's World. While 2020 wasn't Pi'erre's most dominant year, it was the year that he truly established his staying power. Pi'erre is going to be one of the most in-demand producers in the game for years to come.
3. Metro Boomin
Position on 2019 list: #2
One of 2020's only redeeming qualities is the fact that we received a Metro Boomin album—which, in my opinion, is one of the most special events that can occur in contemporary hip-hop. Although he is not a vocalist, Metro is still one of the most talented storytellers in rap. How? His soundscapes often deliver an artist's message better than their lyrics do, and this phenomenon was evident once again on the highly-acclaimed Savage Mode 2 collaboration with legendary counterpart 21 Savage. Savage Mode 2 has been embraced as one of the best rap albums of the year, but Metro added other 2020 hits to his library with Young Nudy, Lil Durk, Young Thug, 6LACK, Future, and The Weeknd, among others.
Newcomer to the list
2020 Hit-Boy embodied the word "prolific." The man could not get enough credits under his belt this year; he had to touch everything. There was nothing forced about it, either—he is arguably one of the main reasons why 2020 was such a quality year for music. The award-winning legend entirely produced Benny the Butcher's Burden of Proof album, and he made massive contributions to Big Sean's Detroit 2, Nas' King's Disease, as well as Tee Grizzley's The Smartest. Hit-Boy also blessed the likes of Freddie Gibbs, Polo G, Jack Harlow, Ty Dolla Sign, A$AP Ferg, Anderson .Paak, Mick Jenkins, and Lil Baby with beats over the course of the calendar year. I think "prolific" was the appropriate word choice, right? Hit-Boy's 2020 run is one for the history books.
1. The Alchemist
Newcomer to the list
There's legendary, and then there's god-tier. The Alchemist's 2020 run was nothing short of the latter.
First, let's talk about his collaborative efforts. The Grammy-nominated, critically-acclaimed Alfredo with Freddie Gibbs is considered by many to be a strong contender for best hip-hop album of the year. His Griselda takeover—The Price of Tea in China with Boldy James and Lulu with Conway the Machine—has also been highly-regarded all year. Aside from collab projects, he contributed to music from Westside Gunn, Action Bronson, Jay Electronica, Earl Sweatshirt, Anderson .Paak, and Eminem. And surprisingly enough, he somehow had enough free time to release two solo instrumental albums—A Doctor, Painter & An Alchemist Walk Into A Bar and The Food Villain.
Not to discredit any other talented producers, but The Alchemist brings fine art to hip-hop like very few others in the game are able to. The Alchemist is leading hip-hop back into a golden era right before our eyes.