Top 5 Producers Shifting the Sound of Atlanta Rap in 2014

Childish Major
Chris Stanford

Childish Manor photographed by Chris Stanford at The Barrio Home Studio in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Super producers such as Organized Noize have paved the way for others to craft the way Atlanta is represented sonically. Now it seems that the current role of the producer in Atlanta is to dictate the way the Billboard chart sounds, with songs like "Tuesday" (produced by Metro Boomin and Sonny Digital) taking over the radio. Over the past year, producers like Mike WiLL Made-It have successfully crossed over, taking a sound that many thought would be regional into the Top 100 with the support of a worldwide audience.

Mike Will Made-It: The Billboard Cover Story

Here's a list of established producers who are helping shift the sound of Atlanta rap, and the newcomers that are poised to carry the torch into a new generation.

He's recently executive produced Future's mixtape, Monster, and is putting the finishing touches on Young Thug's anticipated Metro Thuggin project. "We have to get the business right, there’s a lot behind that," he tells Billboard. Metro has been one of the most sought out producers in the A, but he doesn't want to be known as the "go-to guy" just yet. "It's crazy to even see it like that," he says. "I just do my thing, and make music that people are going to like and love. That's all I ever want to do."

Longevity is the one quality that the constantly evolving producer thinks about, and with a number of new projects on the horizon, he's focused on making sure the whole city gets its shine. "That’s the thing about hip-hop -- it's too trendy. They can't wait to go on to the next thing. I'm not looking at it like that. I'm looking at it like Timbaland and Pharrell [Williams]. I'm gonna be around."

Their most recent collaborations with Atlanta's Key! have spawned a whole new relationship that is gaining positive results, even if their first encounter wasn't the most ideal. "Key! likes to play around... We were walking out of the club and we heard him say, 'Yo, y'all beats are wack, bruh' and we were about to fight him." Over time, their relationship blossomed into the ambient and attention grabbing FKeyi mixtape. FKi is planning a new EP, Everyday Matters, and they hope to keep their strict approach to music intact throughout it. "It's just the feeling, man. We get in the studio and we go off of the feeling of the music."

C.N.O.T.E. prides himself on being a hard worker as well, plotting his own mixtape with Gucci Mane called C.N.O.T.E. vs Gucci, which is set to release soon. "I'm mixing him with people he has never worked with. I have an intro with him rapping over the phone, it's one of the hardest things I’ve ever done."

Sonny isn't fazed however, as he knows his indefinable production style is gaining new listeners every day. "That Makonnen record got people to start acknowledging what I've been doing. It's put people's mind in a different level [in terms of] what I've done in the past." His inability to be tied down to just a trap sound has been a hindrance to his perception with record labels ("They think I'm just some new producer," he says), but the challenge is one that the laid-back producer is willing to take. "It's fun. When they do their research though, they realize I did all the songs that are in their iPhones," he says.

Even with his newfound success, Childish is keeping his sights on the future of Atlanta and his own artists: "I love working with Two-9, I think Jace (of Retro Sushi) is one of the most underrated artists out... I'm also working with my own artist Blaze Servin." With projects already in the can with Jeezy and The Internet, the future is bright for the young prodigy of the city.

His proximity to Two-9 has also given Ducko a new relationship with Mike WiLL Made-It, who signed the group and Ducko to his Ear Drummaz label. The relationship has already had a positive influence on Ducko, who says, "It's a good fit because I'm able to continue working with Two-9, and learn from someone who I've looked up for the past few years." Ducko has already taken Mike's tutelage seriously: he has a collaboration mixtape with 10Deep, clothing, and records with Rich Homie Quan, Snootie Wild and Problem on the way.

Check out "My City: Atlanta," featuring Father, Raury and OG Maco.