Producers that are part of El Movimiento assume a multi-skilled position, graciously encompassing more than one role: vocal coach, composer, creative director, instrumentalist, and at times engineer.
Inspired through cultural exchanges, the Dominican producer has contributed to the movement’s evolution since it’s early beginnings and has been at the forefront of sub-genres like dembow and Latin trap. Rooted in the influx of Dominican immigration in the late 1980s and ‘90s, the diaspora found itself highly concentrated in New York City barrios like Washington Heights-Inwood and the South Bronx. As a result, a bicultural generation raised on American music and Dominican homegrown sounds like bachata and merengue contributed to the uproar in El Movimiento’s infancy, creating music that mirrored their “ni de aqui, ni de alla” reality and embraced all sounds.
The city’s melting pot initiated the transcultural exchange that birthed merenhouse, reggaeton, and rap en Español. Merenhouse producer Pavel de Jesús distinguished Proyecto Uno’s sound by blending hip-hop references and samples with rhythms that spawned from merengue, like the tambora and the güira. This era reimagined merengue and became symbolic of Dominican-American national identity.
Few years down the line, Luny Tunes-produced tracks strengthened reggaeton’s blueprint by incorporating bachata and perico ripiao rhythms. It’s also impossible to talk about Trap en Español and not mention the efforts and contributions of producers like DJ 40, Cromo X, and The Reason—who’ve worked with early trap headliners Lito Kirino, Tali, and Messiah (“Tamo Lindo” and “Robinson Cano”).
Though producers incorporated 808s before, it wasn’t long until the Trap en Español movement influenced producers like Light GM, Nico Clinico, and Chael Produciendo who infused new trap keys, flute sounds, and snares. As the movement’s popularity continues to secure mainstream success, it is important to recognize the producers revolutionizing the current sounds. Below, Remezcla compiled a list of 12 Dominican producers, in no particular order, shaping the scene with their contributions.
Spearheading the underground dembow movement—a counterculture to dembow’s mainstream scene— with standout tracks like Rochy RD’s “Trucho” and Crazy Design and Kiko El Crazy collab “Dejen Su Loquera,” Leo RD undoubtedly became 2019’s underdog-turned-rising star. Contributing culture-defining sounds, he’s made a lane essentially creating music with drum breaks that highlight rap verses—creating a format raw and clear enough for rappers to focus on lyricism.
Since then he’s worked with the likes of El Mayor, Bulin 47, and Ceky Viciny. “The work I’ve been able to accomplish is worth 10 years in the making. To create so many hits in the movement whether it’s underground or more commercial, it’s been a blessing and historic. I’m one of the few,” Leo RD tells Remezcla.
Aside from the seasoned punchlines, Bad Bunny’s “25/8” trap drums and beat build-up is an impassioned journey from beginning to end. Co-produced by Hide Miyabi, a Philly-raised Dominican-American, the song has garnered 23 million views on YouTube since it’s late February drop. The producer’s journey began at 13 when he curiously witnessed his cousin using FL Studios and decided to test it out himself. Through self-training, he eventually learned and began making beats for local artists as a side hustle in his later years, tastefully navigating the city’s American rap and Latin American music scene.
A trip to the Dominican Republic in 2017 motivated the producer to take his role more seriously, after finding himself in a tropical environment with other producers and seeing the way they created beats. “The whole year was crazy because I got my biggest records,” he says. Once the other half of producer duo The Martianz, producing tracks like Chris Brown’s “Pills n Automobiles” and Lil Baby’s “Freestyle.” Now rocking solo, he hopes to play a role in bridging both industries. Recently, he contributed to Eladio Carrion’s debut album Sauceboys, on tracks like “3 A.M” and “Mala Mia.”
Producer to Amenazzy top-streamed songs, like reggaeton romantico “Baby” featuring Nicky Jam and Don Omar collab “Desierto,” Nicael’s distinctive dreamy sounds have powered through many recent international collaborations and projects. Producing since the tender age of 16, his fondest and earliest music memories were the moments spent watching music channels like MTV and BET, this stimulated an eclectic taste that played a huge role throughout his formative years. While he enjoyed reggaeton veterans like Luny Tunes and Tego Calderon, he also consumed American-made sounds that consisted of rock bands System of a Down, Slipknot, Eminem, and Lil Wayne.
As the beatmaker behind the Oasis standout track “La Cancion,” he granted nostalgia with his sparse piano chords, trumpet lines—transforming the reggaetoneros to balladeers. “Funny thing is this was an R&B beat. When you hear it, you’ll notice the chord progressions are R&Bish and Jazz,” Nicael says. “Even the 808s aren’t in the patterns that people normally use because it’s an R&B song.” The track is one of the album’s most memorable and placed the producer on 2019’s year-end Billboard Top Latin producers chart.
Head of the multi-cultural artist incubator A2F Latin and lead audio engineer, Pamela Velez has worked with the likes of many in music J Alvarez, Paulina Rubio, Paloma Mami, GioBulla, Mariah Angeliq, Malu Trevejo, and MoMo. As in all industries, women are vastly outnumbered in the studio. For every woman producer, there are 49 male producers—this is something she is not intimidated by though. “I don’t think I’ve ever stepped into a room I couldn’t dominate. It is just a matter of showing them that you can keep up and that you are as good as any other male that could do the job,” Velez tells Remezcla.
To the women aspiring to follow in her footsteps, she leaves her formula: “It’s a matter of winning the respect of those in the room around you, and that’s only possible if you know that ‘preparation meets opportunity,’ and that when the opportunity comes you need to be ready to execute. Hard work, dedication, and discipline are the secret formula.” She’s also envisioning the ways she can push the culture forward. “My goal is by the end of this year to be at least at 70% with building a hub to start developing new producers and writers in DR and start opening doors and developing Dominican talent.”
Thoroughly influenced by Philadelphia’s hip-hop scene, Frank Acevedo creates beats rappers can “go off” to. “I grew up watching DVD’s of Philly spitters…the passion and aggression, nobody can tell the story of a come-up better than a Philly artist.” Artistically known as FranchiseWav, Acevedo received his first placement on Montana of 300 “God Strong,” later followed by GioBulla’s “Consentida.”
His latest project Forever is an 808-heavy, high energy adventure that incorporates the East Coast-founded ‘90s boom bap and soul samples, the tracklist also includes producer collabs with NYBangers (Young MA “OOOUU”) and Darios ( Meek Mill’s “Championships”).
Big Chriss & Draco Deville
Franklyn Alexander Matos and Luis Santiago Neris Martinez, known as Big Chriss Draco Deville have about 30 hits under their belt. Producing local and mainstream successes, like Bulova “La Grasa,” to his feature on Yomel el Meloso’s “Pomposo”—the song that brought in El Alfa, Zion, Shadow Blow, and Jowell for the remix, as well as Quimico Ultra Mega hits “La Mata” and “Panamera.”
The producers were friends long before officially announcing they’re a partnership. As artists themselves, they came up with supporting one another and sharing music resources. The duo has played an important role in the musical development of the genre and artists. “We try to draw music from our [Dominican] roots that were successful in the 90s. We don’t limit ourselves to the same Jamaican riddims,” says Draco.
Songwriter and producer Bryan Argenis Taveras’s musical interest began as a spitter. “I loved freestyling in the barrio with the guys,” Taveras, known as HACHE, says. Freestyling led him to creating music as an artist. In 2016, he began to pursue a career as a composer and producer, working on projects like the Puerto Rican and Dominican joint album Un Solo Movimiento, Natti Natasha’s illumiNATTI, and various tracks on Ozuna’s sophomore album AURA (“Pasado Y Presente,” featuring Anuel AA).
He’s the proudest of soft-ballad “Monotonia,” a record he co-produced and co-wrote. ”It’s a song that helps you understand many things, like suddenly losing a loved one…for me, it holds emotional value,” he says. “It’s the song I’m most proud of.” His recent writer credits include Lunay’s “Soltera” and Ozuna’s “Que Pena,” a track he co-wrote and co-produced alongside Eliel, Hi-Flow, and Yazid Rivera.
Franyer Beatz and PitukeyWey
For three years, Franyer Beatz and PitukeyWey have allured Dominican urbano aficionados with their melodic elements and traditional kick and snare, as heard on projects like sing-rap hybrid Shadow Blow’s keyboard-led hip-hop number, “27 Mensajes,” and multiple tracks on Un Solo Movimiento.
Originally from Villa Jaragua, Neyba, Franyer’s professional career officially began in 2014, when Dominican composer and rap veteran T.Y.S ushered him into the scene with “Como Yo,” featuring Cirujano Nocturno and California. Before then, his music experience consisted of his years in the church choir and the music he made in his cousin’s studio. Their respective tastes have also scored independent projects. “I feel like what has always made me different have been my drums,” Franyer says.
Co-producing Tali’s “Que Vivan Lo’ Tiger (Remix)” with Lito Kirino and Sensato, his colleague, Santo Domingo native PitukeyWey, embraces a percussion-led essence. “My music is generally accompanied by instruments such as the piano, synths, leads, percussion [like ] bongos, shakers because I have been heavily influenced by R&B, soul & hip hop,” he says.
Composer and producer Okeiflou’s presence in the capital’s popi scene—think California Valley kids in the Caribbean—of the capital has placed him in many projects including his own. He’s co-produced Tokischa’s “Empatillada” and Los Blanquitos “Popiwa.”
Perfecting the trade on producer platforms where “best remake” contests seasoned him as a producer, he learned to recreate famous reggaeton tracks of the time. He was mentored by Padrino (“ Y Tu No Lo Sabes”) in his early years, and since then has explored various sounds that include genres under the Tropical and El Movimiento umbrella.
His musical enthusiasm was spawned by the pop music videos he would catch on MTV Saturday mornings while growing up. Highlighting stars like The Backstreet Boys, Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, the network exhilarated a curiosity for the recording process, leading him to the likes of the Neptunes and Timbaland. “They recorded a lot of environmental noises and sounds with their mouths,” he says. He’s pivoted and has released tracks of his own, “I come from an era in which the producer sang. The producer is essentially the mind of the track…the moment came in which I told myself, ‘You have a good voice you can make music’,” he says.
Singer-songwriter and producer Mory embodies the clash of Toronto sounds crowned by Drake, PartyNextDoor, and The Weeknd with Dominican-rooted rhythms as merengue and bachata. Born Moria Estrella, she moved to Toronto from Santo Domingo at 11 years old. “Toronto has very nostalgic and melancholic feelings, I add those influences when creating music, for me that’s what adds feeling to a song,” she says. The singer was one of two women that graduated and pursued a career in sound engineering and mixing arts at Trebas Institute.
Co-produced by Mory, “Empodera” blends two worlds and infuses merengue and bachata with trap and dembow elements. “Our parents and grandparents play merengue at parties, for a younger generation to play it and listen was very important to me.”