23 April 2018
Are Hip-Hop Producers Undervalued?
Producers in the Hip-Hop/Rap genre are the architects of the sounds that are heard in rap today. These musicians work behind the scenes to create a melody for the music that paints a picture of what the artist is talking about. Without a strong or fitting instrumental, the message of a given song deteriorates, ultimately becoming obsolete. But do rap fans even know who producers are and what they do? Due to the fact that these unsung heroes aren’t vocally at the forefront of a given song, many people don’t even know who producers are or what makes them such an integral part of the genre. The lack of credit given to rap producers causes the rap industry to put artists before producers when it comes to notoriety. This message limits fans ability to truly understand the music they’re listening to and allows record labels to take advantage of producers financially.
In April of 2018, a survey was conducted in Ms. Pahomov’s 11th grade English class with avid rap fans that focused on the recognition of producer “tags” and if the given student knew what the job of a producer was. Of the ten students who participated in the survey, six knew what a producer was and could describe at least partially what the job of a producer was. Of 40 producer tags,--all of which were/are big-name producers like Metro Boomin, DJ Khaled, and RONNY J--the average amount that a given student recognized was 19.5. Further, all ten participants new at least one of each of the 40 producers collaborators. This lack of knowledge pertaining to the very people who are making the hit songs that have stormed the nation is flat out wrong. These statistics show how uneducated and unexposed the teenage fans of rap music are to the people who are building the foundations to their favorite songs. This lack of knowledge creeps into the minds of the management of record labels, making it easier to take advantage of these producers.
This past year, TM88, a member of the production powerhouse 808 Mafia, tweeted that he hadn’t been paid by Atlantic Records for his work on rapper Lil Uzi Vert’s breakout hit “XO TOUR Llif3”, despite the report that the song had raked in approximately $4.5 million for the label. However, TM88 is far from the only producer to speak out on shady business deals and lack of payment. Producers like E. Dan, DJ Burn One, and Illmind, among others have spoken out about missing payment from labels and rappers alike. These shady payment deals result in the producers getting paid much less than the artists that they work with. One example of this phenomenon is Atlanta producer and architect of the “trap music” sound Mike Will Made-It.
Despite a successful and lengthy career spanning well over a decade, the producer’s net worth is estimated to be $10 Million, according to celebritynetworth.com. This may seem like a lot of money, but compared to the artists he’s worked with, this number is meager at best. Over ten of his collaborators have net worths that surpass his despite similar career lengths and accolades. The music industry’s inability to recognize its producers allows those producers to get paid much less than their vocal counterparts.
If rap fans were to realize how little they understand about the music they’re listening to, they’d realize that they’re actively limiting themselves from finding music that they like. Producers that have one hit song may have several others and may have relationships with some of the most popular artists in the world. For example, “trap music” producer Zaytoven has worked with everyone from Lil Pump to A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie to Wiz Khalifa. If someone who’s a fan of Lil Pump decides to look at who Zaytoven has collaborated with and finds that they like other music he’s made, they’ve just opened themselves up to a whole new path for discovering music. By shutting out the idea that producers are an integral part of Hip-Hop, fans are shutting out a possibility to access music that they’d like.
This is my best 2Fer because I try to be as precise with my evidence as possible. I've struggled with this before and I think that I was effectively concise in this essay.
Cantor, Avi M. “Interview Data.” Google, Google, 17 Apr. 2018, docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1A_uA0C1wHT37vBSujYU80-dtSaXnKJ5Cs_ogrq8kJo4/edit#gid=0.
“Rae Sremmurd.” Celebrity Net Worth, www.celebritynetworth.com/dl/rae-sremmurd/.