More often than not producers are the architects behind great music. They create and mould the atmosphere for the world our ears inhabit. It’s a great balancing act one has to do when it comes to producing music with vocals because they have to make an indelible footprint whilst providing the canvas for the performing artist to soar. In this new blog series, I’ll be spotlighting young music producers I’ve found on the net who I feel are making great strides and/or have the potential to be our next great architects in music.
Basic Info: Our first producer is originally from Ezulwini, Swaziland and currently based in Johannesburg. This 24-year old is extremely versatile. Armed with a mixing and mastering background, he also works as a DJ. Stickx has racked up quite the discography, producing whole bodies of work for artists like Coopay Sounds, Greg XV and Lucille Slade as well as singles like Dibi‘s Golide, TTGO’s Gorgeous and J Molley’s Hype. On top of that, he’s released two EP’s of his own, Esc_ape and We Need To Talk, where he collaborates with artists like Kyle Deutsch, LoveSechaba and Obysalone to name a few.
Style: Stickx’s musical output is extremely diverse and spreads across the spectrum of rhythmic-based genres; read R&B, Hip-Hop, Funk, Reggaeton etc. His latest output, We Need To Talk, paints a picture of a producer who is fascinated and experiments with syncopation and off-beat rhythms. The productions here often feel like a complex avalanche of ever changing sounds and rhythmic patterns which are built with the intention of surprising the listener just as they get into a groove; Dream World is an excellent example of this.
Stickx has an understanding of how to construct infectious earworms and does it with aplomb. His penchant for slightly off-beat compositions as well as his DJ’ing has informed his ability to make extremely distinctive and multi-layered hooks and one needs to look no further than Coopay’s Shmoke (a reggaeton song) and Dibi’s Golide (a hip-hop/kwaito song). Although these tracks on face-value are extremely different in genre and scope, what makes both their choruses so infectious can be broken down into similar elements. These tracks are constructed with a two-part chorus; the first part is a crescendoing mix of individual hooks which build and satisfyingly erupt into a much calmer post-chorus hook. Stickx tailors how the track ebbs and flows towards the strengths and personalities of both the performing artist and the intricacies of the genre he inhabits. Stickx’s continuous experimentation and growing versatility should only enhance his already immersive style of music.
Basic Info: Born and raised in Pretoria, Katlego Tema is a 19 year old who goes by the moniker Doou$hii. Doou$hii is primarily a self-taught producer who’s been releasing music for at least the last three years on Soundcloud. Some of the artists he has produced work for include Roho (Broken Metal), Tyson Syba Teli, Yuang and The SlumpRine to name a few.
Style: Doou$hii’s current musical output finds him playing within the hip-hop and R&B space as well as their sub-genre counterparts. A running through-line within a good chunk of his music is experimenting with relics of the not so distant past. When it comes to that, Doou$hii’s an astute student and has some really good instincts on where to push and pull from. Thus far, his best muse for these type of productions has been Roho, an artist who we’ve explored previously an article you can read here. Cell Division was my introduction to his work and stands as one of my favourite works his produced thus far. The song rests upon a hype sample and drum patterns that harken back to early 90’s new jack swing and hip-hop. What makes the song intriguing for me is how the contrast of the hype and brightness that’s common within new jack swing is met with Roho’s melancholic tones and harmonies. This type of contrast creates a good balance of creating nostalgia whilst keeping it fresh and contemporary to the moods of the time.
His musical library and reference points when it comes to his hip-hop productions is quite eclectic, a lot of his inspiration is pulled from Crunk and the southern (read American-Southern) hip-hop influences that were prevalent in the mid 2000’s as much as it is from contemporary trap. With this some of these sounds being from the not so distant past that brings a different kind of challenge of how to reimagine them without it feeling dated. Once he finds a consistent way to strike that balance, he stands to be one of the more daring and threatening producers in his field. It’s really intriguing and how varied his references are within his output. Being 19 years old and pulling from so many influences can only inform and enhance his voice as his work matures and he moulds his signature.
Basic Info: Our next producer is originally from Congo but is currently based in Sandton. Fresh out of high school, this 19 year old self-taught producer has been making the most of his first year out. Often found tag-teaming with Elizee, Elohim is has been the producer behind music by artists such as Febuary, Malachi, Ka$h and Pluto to name a few.
Style: Elohim’s current musical output leans towards alternative hip-hop and trap. His style is extremely contemporary with a focus on ambient and atmospheric soundscapes. Of all the producers I cover in this article, Elohim is the closest one to having a signature sound and is extremely proficient at playing around in it. At the core of a lot of his productions are eerie sounding piano/keyboard melodies, the type of melodic patterns one might find coming out of an old-school music box. These melodic patterns are embedded into club/bedroom ready style trap productions; examples of this can be found on Malachi’s Basement, Febuary’s No Options, Elizee’s Ruthless and KC The Plug’s Beg You to name a few.
This signature sound is often met with a signature trademark, a woman coos “Elohim, are you home?”. This further solidifies the style of music and target audience he’s style of music is going for. It would be really interesting to see how he evolves from this specific sound as his artists and sound mature. To see what other spaces and genres he takes influence from and grows with.
Basic Info: Hailing from the Mpumalanga, we find 19-year old Dee Mkhonza. Dee is a composer as well as producer who is known for usually working tag teaming with his brother, That Ego, a hip-hop artist and fellow producer with a sound engineering background. Thus far. his discography is spread through working with artists such as Benny Afroe, Kat Michaels, That Ego and Peezy Da Afrikan.
Style: Dee’s current musical output sees him playing within the realms of classic hip-hop, trap and R&B. Dee is very much a contemporary producer when it comes to his instincts but revisionist in his approach. At the core of a lot of his productions is the use of trap drum patterns. Regardless of the style of the sound, he finds a way to use those trap sensibilities as a way of embellishing the sound often with the intent of making them sound or feel current. The obvious references can be found within classic hip-hop sounding tracks like That Ego’s Take A Chance and The Unforgiving Truth, and the same can be said for Benny Afroe’s soulful Rock Your Soul. On top of that, he has a way of making his songs sound anthemic through the way he chooses to introduce them, how he creates quiet spaces for dramatic effect and how he builds and interacts with different sounds on a production.
On top of his musical production, Dee has also taken a stab at scoring, composing a healthy chunk of The Unmanly Men Association’s soundtrack and score. This has allowed me to see some of his instincts outside of mainstream genres. His work on that project highlights his ability to create compositions based on heightening moods as opposed to creating them. What would be interesting to see is how he grows his style using all the different tools he’s currently building in his arsenal.