A new trend in hip hop production?


I’ve been following a lot of new Atlanta influenced hip hop quite loosely over the past few years, and while it’s not to some people’s tastes, I really love the post-Young Thug style, where things like rhythmic inventiveness, melody and ad-libs often take precedence over dense lyricism. Its really fun music. I have noticed that production on a lot of big tracks in the past few years have turned slightly away from the huge metro boomin / 808 mafia / zaytoven trap style, instead choosing something a bit more slinky. Kicks and 808s are swampy and less punchy, and instead of spaciousness, the tracks are filled with melody and more complex percussion. Pierre Bourne’s work for Playboi Carti is a definite reference.

Can anyone who knows more than me shed some light on whether this recent evolution is an actual thing, or can point me toward more producers/artists with this kind of sound?

Some examples


Playboi Carti’s style takes a lot from Chicago Drill


This song blew my mind first time I listened to it, I’ve never heard anything like this before. (then again I was faded with my friends lol). But seriously, the production on this was so out of this world.

I should probably mention the Philadelphia rap scene / Working on Dying as well, they’re of course parallel to new type rap productions, but they’re on a whole other level. Their beats are a lot more darker and swampier, but their productions are just as tight.


I think Zaytoven still plays a massive role in informing these type of productions. A lot of the samples used by these producers were made popular by his beats - Zaytoven 808s and snares are ubiquitous in sample packs.

Here are two examples from 2015

A more recent one:

I also think that a lot of this style of production can be traced back to an appreciation for early cloud-rap production, but instead of emulating DJ Screw and slowing the tempo down, the beats have been sped up a bit towards 150-160bpm.

Someone mentioned above that chicago drill was an important touchstone and that is probably true as well. The more melodic early Chief Keef tracks as well as other related scenes are definitely related to current production developments:


To supplement my post above…
Cloud rap was probably one of the more important developments in general because it opened a new sonic landscape:

Lil B is one of the most important figures that paved the way for the sound being described as a new trend - a lot of people will claim that Clams Casino is just as important but I think his influence was felt more in terms of production possibilities, while Lil B also produced and pushed the boundaries of rap styles as well:
2009 - B.O.R. (Birth of Rap) Prod. by Clams Casino

2010 - Love is Strange

Producers like Friendzone brought a lot of focus to those kind of ambient textures and were able to make a little parallel world to the Lex-Luger style production that came to dominate ATL starting around 2010:

Friendzone Kuchibiru Network 1 & 2 (2011)

ASAP Rocky was coming up around this time as well and really helped popularize more melodic elements as well.

Playboi Carti’s YUNGXANHOE has the majority of the elements of this style already in place…in 2013:

What is happening now in 2018 is that Zaytoven’s approach to percussion (leaving melody aside for the moment) has become a staple, not only sonically, but structurally and formally as well. Other ATL producers have played a big role as well, such as DJ Spinz and perhaps Nard and B, but I think Zaytoven is the most important. Around 2015, when Zaytoven and Future released Beast Mode, there seemed to be this realization that fully fleshed melodies and trap music could compliment each other extremely well. On the one hand, that led to producers like London on the Track and Wheezy to take up more “acoustic” sounds, while others applied this really melodic approach to synths:

Yung Gleesh, Prod. by Trappin Benny (2015)


Maybe not the style you’re looking for, but too good not to post:

And @jerome posted this in another thread, been slappin it ever since:


Great reply dude, lots of stuff I wasn’t aware of / didn’t think about! Had completely forgotten about cloud rap. Used to love Main Attrakionz, can see how Friendzone’s production on something like “Cloud Body” sounds really similar to that Playboi Carti track that @Yung_Dave posted above.

Super interesting to see how many different disparate styles are being thrown into the pot in contemporary rap production these days.


Ahhhhh I love that Creek Boyz track


Not a direct reply to the topic but might be of interest.
I think this track is a radical evolution to what rap is and can be.
I think any french speaking person know them by now (check the number of plays + how fast it grows) but I’m not too sure how well the rest of the world is aware of them.
Of course I recomend checking the rest of their music to anyone who doesn’t know them yet.


That was a beautiful song. But why do you believe that this track is a radical evolution to what rap is and can be?


Because the instrumental is closer to the idea of ambient music than the idea of an hip-hop instrumental. I’m not sure they are the first to do it but the surely are the first to use this vibe at this level of fame. I used this song as an exemple but plenty of tracks in their discography can testify of their commitment to this style of production.
Also, the narrative they use regarding life in more poor areas (regarding drug dealing etc) is one of strain, inevitability of it and sometime shame or sorrow.
There’s not the slightest glorification of it, even just for the “style”, like it’s been the case in rap and hiphop for a long time.
I’m not saying one narrative is better than the other one, I’m just saying it’s a change, and when you combine both changes it makes for a radical new way of doing rap and existing in the “urban” (god i hate this term) narrative as a rapper.


I think that this is an interesting choice, which can also be looked at in terms of its form. I think this track is basically a kind of ballad - the first thing I thought of is Sting!

What I think is really interesting about the PNL track is that the ballad form is basically combined with trap tropes (hi hats, gliding 808s) that have been used to accentuate the track at certain stages. Nevertheless, it is very much an “acoustic” song, despite acoustic genres having minimal impact in mainstream music generally. This move towards “rock music” tropes, broadly speaking, is something that’s been bubbling for a while: Lil Uzi Vert and Trippie Red’s vocal styles come very close to Taking Back Sunday and other early 2000s emo pop bands, Rico Nasty references metal music and xxxtentacion was also heavily influenced by rock music.
I’m curious how things will play out in the next few years…


Oh yeah, rock and emo vibes are strong in contemporary hip-hop. Drake’s “Summer Games” reminded me in a weird way of Blink-182 for example. XXXtentacion was heavy influenced by new metal, Slipknot, Korn and the likes. Makes sense, these guys (Lil Pump, Takeshi 69, X) were born when this sound was popular. And they even look like they could play in a band like Coal Chamber :smiley:


I wouldn’t link the instrumental to Ambient music to be honest. But I definitely know what you mean. It reminded me more of a western movie soundtrack. The lyrics are definitely very unusual (and kinda moving), going against the typcial, tiring indentity politics cliches.


Literally Drake and 40 make hella ambient inspired tracks and let’s not forget about Yung Lean. Also it the lyrics aren’t radical either there are a lot of rappers that don’t glorify drugs


I’ve been noticing a new trend in contemporary hip hop production, namely, beats with little to no melodic or harmonic elements (besides 808s). I think this more minimal approach to production has stemmed from the really aggressive and hard production style associated with Ronny J but has really reduced the production to its essence. The rhythmic tropes and drum samples are generally consistent with many of the dominant contemporary production trends of 2018. That being said, I only really took notice of this production style after Splurge released a mixtape titled “No Melody”.

Ronny J production here:

Melodyless production:

These kind of tracks may use sound effects or “atmospheres” to establish mood but the focus is always on the interplay between kick and claps/snare. The 808s and kicks are usually distorted and short and the production is very dry. This leaves a ton of space for vocals and makes the tracks feel really close and immediate; there is very little “distance” between the listener and the music.
I’m probably forgetting a few examples and I’m sure there are other tracks that I’ve overlooked. I think these tracks are pretty interesting and I’d love to hear any examples that others have heard.


a dreamy r&b song for yall…