You may not know his name, but you’ve definitely heard his work. Meet 24 year-old Mexican-American producer and Chicago native Stefan Ponce. He’s been producing for over a decade and began his successful career at a media arts literacy organization that serves Chicago’s youth, where fellow Chicagoans Vic Mensa and Chance the Rapper were also mentored.
Coming up with two of the city’s biggest talents, Ponce worked with both of the Windy City’s spitters before their meteoric ascents to fame. In 2013, he furthered Chicago’s rap resurgence by producing Chance the Rapper’s “Good Ass Intro,” off his iconic Acid Rap release. Sampling Chi-Town legend Kanye West on his 2006 mixtape Freshmen Adjustment 2, Ponce added a steady juke beat and it became clear that he was destined to be the next great Chicago producer. As a frequent collaborator of the SAVEMONEY collective, which consists of Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, and Joey Purp to name a few, Ponce has been carving a new but nostalgic sound on the streets of Chicago. Blending R&B, house, and Chicago juke with lush hip-hop beats, Ponce has provided a genre-bending sound for a new wave of rappers. From composing Vic Mensa’s “Down on My Luck” to the Kanye featured track “U Mad,” Ponce has shown a diverse skill set and demonstrated his ability to produce a range of different styles. It all bodes well for his potential longevity in the game.
After working as Mensa’s tour DJ, he came into contact with Childish Gambino. Ponce began collaborating with him as an in-house producer for Because The Internet and produced Gambino’s biggest radio hit to date: “3005.” With a subsequent 2015 Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album from the 2013 Gambino release, we’ve seen Ponce skyrocket in the hip-hop scene.
While Ponce continues to grow in his successful career, he finds motivation in his roots. He’s previously stated that he’s “motivated every day knowing I’m one of very few young Latino kids making music tastefully. I want to inspire young Latino kids. If you’re black, you can look up to Kanye or Quincy Jones. If you’re white, you can look up to Mark Ronson or Rick Rubin. I’m trying to fill that void with creative Latino kids.” Although he states he’s the “most non-traditional Mexican of all time” due to his ten-year commitment to vegetarianism, he stays reppin’ for La Raza.
The young producer has a bevy of production credits on major MCs’ catalogs, but he also follows his own endeavors and switches up genres. He’s set to release his Somewhere EP this summer, and has already dropped two pop-house tracks from it. “Lost in Translation,” featuring the mind, and “Forever Julie,” assisted by vocals from an unnamed singer, exemplify Ponce’s the diversity and ingenuity. Both tracks are upbeat, soulful, and have an overall feel-good vibe for summer days by the pool. Moving forward, Ponce will collaborate with Maryland rapper Logic on his upcoming album, and tour the festival circuit as he continues to prep his new EP.
Based on his work so far, expect Ponce to become a household name in the near future.