Red Bull Music Academy presents Drum Majors

It’s mostly the voice that lifts you up? You know what, scrap that. From Timbaland to J Dilla, Neptunes to Just Blaze, hip hop beatmakers have long been pushing the boundaries of contemporary pop music. The past few years have seen the rise of a whole new generation of producers who made us love radio again. This is why we invited some of today’s most in-demand hitmakers to swap the studio for the stage for one night only. Production heavyweights like longtime Drake collaborator Boi-1da, the main man behind Chicago’s drill rap sound, Young Chop (Chief Keef, Pusha T), and ratchet trailblazer DJ Mustard (Tyga, 2 Chainz) will exclusively reinterpret their biggest tracks live on stage. Other producers set to perform include J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League (Rick Ross, Nas), Bangladesh (Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj), Drumma Boy (Gucci Mane, Young Jeezy), and the great man Mannie Fresh straight outta Nawlins.

The night is presented in association with The Fader who regularly profile the most exciting rap and R&B producers in their “Beat Construction” column.

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Mannie Fresh

Southern hip hop wouldn’t sound the way it does without Mannie Fresh. The Nola representative earned his stripes on the local DJ circuit in the late 1980s, before going on to become the primary production force behind the Cash Money Records empire. Empire is by no means an overstatement, as CMR had the game on lock like a bank vault for a number of years. Laying down the entire beat palette on multiple LPs for B.G., Juvenile, Hot Boys, Lil Wayne, and Big Tymers, Mannie Fresh sculpted the big, bangin’, and brassy sound of the Southern bling-rap movement at its boldest and brightest. Even when Mannie split ways with his longtime associate Bryan ‘Baby’ Williams in 2005, he continued to unleash the fury on the boards, producing tracks for T.I., Rick Ross, Slim Thug, and UGK, dropping his second solo LP, and helping Juvenile make his comeback. Recently, Mannie also scored a production credit on the G.O.O.D. Music sampler and assembled a joint album with Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), which is set to drop sometime in 2013.

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Hip hop’s not dead—it lives up north, as they like to say in Toronto. And Matthew Jehu Samuels, aka Boi-1da, has contributed significantly to the fact that this adage proves more and more accurate. Alongside long-time collaborator Drake, Boi-1da pointed hip hop into new directions when the blank fiction of Drizzy‘s first mixtapes and debut album Thank Me Later grew into a worldwide phenomenon, and propelled one of its main architects off the cuff onto the A-list of basically everyone who has a say in post-millennial hip hop. To say it all went fast from there would be a massive understatement. Boi-1da has had his hands in everything, from major projects like Eminem’s Recovery and Relapse (including the Grammy-winning “Not Afraid”), Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, and Meek Mill to underground tracks by the likes of Das Racist and the Slaughterhouse supergroup. Ain’t no 1da, he’s also been rumored to play a major role in Dr. Dre’s ongoing opus magnum Detox.

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Young Chop

“Young Chop on the track.” The signature vocal drop, used by Chicago’s teenage wonderboy to introduce his beats, has become synonymous with the sound of the Windy City’s visceral, local drill rap scene. Chop’s productions for King Louie, SD, Lil Reese, and most notably, Chief Keef, have propelled him to the forefront of the budding subgenre. As the main beat-supplier for Keef’s first mixtape, Young Chop helped put the rapper on the major-label map. Chop and Keef’s über-hit “I Don’t Like” received some international attention when it was remixed by Kanye West—a fact that Young Chop wasn’t too happy about. This kid likes his beats raw.

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J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League

Wherever beats are corny and drums washed out, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League come to the rescue. Not to be confused with your average masked-avenger clique, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League is a prolific production squad from Tampa, Florida, consisting of producers and instrumentalists Rook, Colione, and Kenny ‘Barto’ Bartolomei. And as their upbringing didn’t command any regionally tinged production templates, their trademark sound melds the best of glossed-out stadium rap and the sample-based traditions of hip hop’s golden era. In other words, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League are the ones on speed dial when MCs from all area codes—Rick Ross, Drake, Fabolous, Bun B, Nas—are in need of some serious soul over dusted drums.

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For over a decade, Bangladesh has been turning hip hop ears upside down with his chopped-up vocals, confrontational beats, and alien sounds. Earning his rep producing Ludacris’ early anthem “What’s Your Fantasy,” the list of artists that Bangladesh has transformed reads like a who’s who of the movers and shakers of the Billboard Top 20. As well as bringing vibes to platinum stars like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kelis, Gaga, Ciara, and Usher, the Atlanta-residing producer is probably best known for his game-changing chops on Lil Wayne’s “A Milli,” which unleashed an avalanche of copycat beat-makers. Since then, his stripped-back and aggressive sound has been sought after to provide definitive career moments for pop and ’hood stars respectively, bringing some true MPC grit to the often pristine and over-produced chart environment.

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DJ Mustard

DJ Mustard on the beat hoe! “Ratchet” is currently hip hop’s en vogue style, and the man most responsible for bringing it to the fore is DJ Mustard. Born Dijon McFarlane, Mustard began DJing at the age of 11 through his uncle, DJ Tee, who owned a bar in Los Angeles. Soon enough Mustard went on to start making beats under the tutelage of Mike Lee, who taught the young producer how to use Reason. He’s only a few years into his career so far, but his success in crafting a unique sound is undeniable. All 808s and clap-heavy, Mustard’s beats have been turned into hits by artists like YG, 2 Chainz, and Meek Mill. His biggest track to date, however, has been Tyga’s “Rack City,” a tune that has come to epitomize the club-tested, booty-approved ratchet style.

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Drumma Boy

Christopher ‘Drumma Boy’ Gholson is a musician’s producer. Born and bred in Memphis, Tennessee, Drumma Boy discovered his passion via a mother who was an opera singer and a father who was a professional clarinetist and music professor at the University of Memphis. Preferring a thick and textured sound, he’s been a beatmaker for an impressive roster of hip hop and R&B acts including Young Jeezy, T.I., Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Nelly, Ludacris, Rick Ross, E-40, and Usher. A 2010 BET-nominated Hip Hop Producer of the Year, Drumma has built his brand on anticipating trends. That’s why it was no surprise to see him expanding his reach by founding Drum Squad, a company that has helped propel him into television. He’s starred in the CW reality show Welcome to Dreamland and guested on The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

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