For casual fans, music usually boils down to the person holding the mic. Singers—and here we’re grouping rappers as well—are the face of the song, the person giving voice to the feelings and getting the crowd hyped. They also are the ones getting all the glory and credit for the music we love. Of course, real fans know this is not the case. A single artist rarely creates their music by themselves. In fact, it’s more common for singers to work as part of a team to deliver a top-notch product to the public, and an important cornerstone of the team is the producer.
Technically speaking, producers are responsible for making the best possible recording of a song. For genres like hip-hop, reggaeton, trap, and R&B, producers are also involved directly in the creation of the songs, often doubling as beatmakers—in other words, the ones providing the backing music for the track—or as songwriters and even lyricists. To say producers are essential is an understatement.
Today’s music landscape is defined by many producers working within reggaeton and trap. Taking a look at the credits of the latest joints by Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Karol G, Sech, Tokisha, and other stars will bring up recognizable names like Tainy, Sky Rompiendo, Ovi On The Drums, Chris Jeday, and many others. However, the spotlight falls on a small percentage of producers doing amazing stuff these days. Namely, most of the star-making men behind the boards—and unfortunately, it’s mostly men who are doing this work—hail from reggaeton hotspots like Puerto Rico, Colombia, Miami, Chile, and the Dominican Republic.
Latin America is full of amazing producers pushing the music to a new level. Mexico has become fertile ground for talented producers to showcase their talents, illustrating a unique approach to making eclectic and innovative sounds. The result is some of the most exciting music around today. That being said, we should point out that we found no women or non-binary producers working with artists other than themselves, and there should be space in the industry made for them. Here are five producers doing next-level music in Mexico in 2021.
Among the current wave of innovative producers, Adrián Be is not only one of the longest-running in the game—having seen trends come and go and understand what is timeless—but also knows a bit about what artists need behind the scenes. Adrián Be made his name in the early ‘10s through his association with the neo-soul label Finesse Records, a label that was instrumental in the rise of some of the best artists and eclectic sounds in the Mexican club landscape with a roster that included Teen Flirt, Naked Geometry, Jesse Baez, and many others. Finesse helped establish Monterrey as a hub for future club music, as well as pushing the limits of what indie producers and artists were willing to do, introducing dembow rhythms to become ever more prevalent in the scene. This is one of Adrian’s most important innovations, incorporating reggaeton to the electronic soul sound of the label, making him an important name in the game.
Yet Adrián is not one to rest on his laurels. After the peak years of Finesse Records, he has remained active as a producer working with an increasing number of artists, and arguably his most fruitful collaboration came when he linked up with the “anti-boy band” par excellence, AQUIHAYAQUIHAY, producing many of their tracks and collaborating closely with them to develop their signature sound. As a result, Adrian’s name has remained fresh in the minds of listeners and musicians, and with ongoing collaborations with AQUIHAYAQUIHAY members like Zizzy and Jay Lee in their respective solo careers, as well as with younger talent like Young Cister, Lil Benjas, Lulú, and Lara Project, to name a few. Additionally, Adrian Be is fast becoming an important figure behind the scenes as well with his work on the Slowly label, helping young artists establish their careers and find their path towards greater success.
Proving that a great hook comes a long way, YOSHI is the rare producer who truly understands his collaborators in order to let them shine and develop their own talent since he’s an artist in his own right as well. YOSHI built his skills by working with one of the most exciting and forward-thinking figures in Latine R&B, Jesse Baez, collaborating closely with the singer to push each other to the limit. YOSHI met Baez while working at Finesse Records where he began his career, then the duo launched a period of inspired music including underground hits like “Turbo,” “Malibú,” and “Mamá Lola,” among other tracks. Likewise, Baez introduced YOSHI to Broke Kids, the collective he founded with international hip-hop journeymen Álvaro Díaz and Milkman, assisting on their tracks and collaborating closely with them; an association that remains to this day, with the producer constantly crossing paths with the three artists.
YOSHI’s M.O. is simple: Let the artists tell him what they want, give them the best sounds, and help them write the strongest melodies of their tracks. This is how he has linked up with other artists to deliver breath-taking work. Among those collaborators are such diverse talents like Girl Ultra, Kiddo Toto, and Akapella—the latter even earning YOSHI his first Latin Grammy nomination in 2021. As if this wasn’t enough, YOSHI has been nurturing his own singing career, having released an EP full of catchy tunes, dembow rhythms, and memorable lyrics. He’s also continuing this path with the release of the track “SAYAYIN” along with his mentor and regular collaborator Milkman.
Many people reading this article will pause for a second after reading Wet Baes’ name among some of the hottest producers in the game right now. After all, Wet Baes is more commonly known as a musical project in its own right, known as a unique proponent in the Mexican indie scene thanks to his spacey psych take on R&B that has earned him a ton of recognition and admiration. However, we’re not here to talk about Wet Baes the artist but Wet Baes the producer.
Andrés Jaime also happens to be one of the most forward-thinking people behind the board at the moment, not only handling the work for his own project but also for artists working in Mexican R&B, infusing his love for space-aged funk-pop that node to the work of ‘80s pop as well as neo-soul exponents of the ‘90s like D’Angelo and Maxwell. As such, he has paired up with some of the country’s most talented sultry singers to give us seductive yet propulsive tracks, like Girl Ultra, Noa Sainz, Tuzeint, and Zemmoa, to name a few. He has also done some work with rising superstar Ed Maverick, with whom he has formed the trio Los Milagros along with fellow singer-songwriter Daniel Quien—a supergroup that will surely give us much to talk about in the near future. Having done so much already, Wet Baes is sure to make a bigger mark in the future.
It’s been a wild ride for BeatBoy. The songs that bear his production trademark can range from relaxed to frantic and from one genre to another, and thanks to that, his short career already showcases the hallmarks of a legend in the making, something the industry has already recognized. BeatBoy’s biggest accolade to date is securing a Latin Grammy nomination along with co-producer Echo for his work on the song “Yo Contra Ti” by reggaeton legend Daddy Yankee, an important song that raised awareness about breast cancer and became one of the biggest in El Big Boss’s career.
And it’s not for nothing that Daddy Yankee had the young Mexican producer involved in such an event of a song. BeatBoy has been characterized to work with a wide variety of sounds as well as artists, whether he dispenses hard beats for some of the hottest emcees in the game at the moment like Chucky73 or Santa Fe Klan, as well as providing smoother sounds for artists such as Robot95 and Zizzy, and even reach across the aisle to the corridos tumbados genre by linking up with such figures as Dan Sánchez and El Nuevo Equipo. BeatBoy spends most of his time working on his own studio, BeatBoy Records, in Monterrey while developing his skills along with longtime collaborators as well as newer talent. Something tells us his Daddy Yankee joint won’t be his only brush with awards and recognition.
Like many of the other producers in this list, Fntxy is not shy to try an eclectic mix of sounds and artists in his career. But what makes Fntxy special is his ability to seamlessly take on many different musical roles and come on top with some grade-A music for fans of all the genres he works in to enjoy. The artist born Elihú Gándara got his start as an emcee known as Taxi Dee in the Soundcloud era—that’s when he earned his accolades and made some important connections before switching gears to the production side. In this regard, he has worked with Mexican favorites like Eptos Uno, Tino El Pingüino, Gera Mx, Charles Ans, and many others.
As readers might infer from reading the names just listed, Fntxy’s work falls in line with hip-hop, fusing old school sounds with current beats to deliver something unique, a quality that has helped him become a cornerstone of Homegrown Mafia, the label/collective that has been instrumental in redefining rap in Mexico. Through this association, Fntxy has found fruitful relationships with stars like Alemán and Yoga Fire, with whom he works closely. Having said that, hard beats are not the only interests in Fntxy’s professional endeavors. Of note is La Plebada, the corrido norteño and trap fusion project he founded with Cozy Cuz that has earned the duo big success. His work with La Plebada has helped earn them a place in the modern Mexican regional music scene that includes such stars as Natanael Cano, Ovi, and Adriel Favela. All in all, Fntxy is one of the leaders defining modern music in the Mexican scene.