As anyone who’s a music fan knows, producers are often relegated to the margins in a vocalist’s career. Their job typically isn’t as glamorous as those on the stage, as they spend most of their time in the studio brewing beats into future hits. But because of this work – sampling, programming, recording, arranging, and sometimes writing melodies – they merit better understanding and recognition from fans. Of course, the heads have these creators on their radar, but let’s face it, some shine for producers could really make a difference for how we enjoy our favorite songs.
In 2018, we’re witnessing a special time for beat-driven music. Reggaeton has pretty much established itself as the sound of Spanish-language pop radio, and there’s no sign of it slowing down, while trap en español has slowly crawled in that direction. Meanwhile, other styles of Spanish-language hip-hop cross over with reggaeton and trap so often that lines continue to blur. Producers help fuel this constant fluidity between styles and keep the genres exciting and innovative.
That’s why we decided to highlight some of the most high-profile producers in the mainstream Latin music industry – the hitmakers behind the biggest songs in Spanish-language pop right now. These are the minds behind the most addictive Ozuna and Bad Bunny tracks.
Unfortunately, this list reflects the gender inequality that shapes the music industry. The producers behind Billboard-charting hits and record-breaking YouTube views are, unsurprisingly, almost all men, proof that the upper echelons of the Spanish-language music business are still a boy’s club. Of course, efforts to highlight women’s contributions to reggaeton and cultivate databases of women producers are well underway in underground spaces. Here’s hoping the mainstream music industry follows suit soon.
Jean Pierre Soto Pascual is a master, able to command Atlanta-inspired 808s as easily as delicate dembow riddims. He is one of Ozuna’s go-to producers, but Yampi has famously lent his talent to other artists like Anuel AA, Ñengo Flow, and Yung Beef, although that hasn’t stopped him from making a bid of his own with his forthcoming compilation album Trap Cartel. The Puerto Rican wizard, who is part of Ozuna’s independent label Dimelo Vi, is the mastermind behind staples like “Tu Foto” and “El Farsante.”
DJ Luian & Mambo Kingz
The team made up of Luian Malavé Nieves and Edgar & Xavier Semper are celebrated for discovering and amplifying Bad Bunny’s career through Hear This Music, but they are as savvy behind the boards as much as they are behind great deals. They’re responsible for “Soy Peor,” “Krippy Kush,” and “Sensualidad,” to name just three bangers, giving us some of El Conejo Malo’s biggest hits, as well as some of his most well-known features.
Another frequent Ozuna collaborator, Puerto Rican producer Chris Jeday has been in the game a bit longer than some of his contemporaries. He’s worked with some of the biggest names in reggaeton, including Daddy Yankee, Zion y Lennox, and Don Omar, to name a few, and his 2017 posse cut “Ahora Dice” was the sixth most viewed video on YouTube in 2017. Lately, he’s been making a name for himself in pop, working on Enrique Iglesias’ “Subeme La Radio” and Reik’s urbano version of their hit “Qué Gano Olvidándote.”
Marco Masís (aka Tainy) has been in the game for years, but thanks to constant reinvention and hard work, he’s managed to stay in the top ranks of reggaeton and Spanish-language hip-hop. Tainy initially made his mark with reggaeton OGs Luny Tunes, contributing to their albums Más Flow 2 and Los Benjamins and working with nearly every reggaetonero of note at the time. Although his legacy is sealed as one of the biggest names behind the boards, he’s nowhere near finished, thanks to his work on present-day chart-scorchers like Cardi B’s “I Like It” and Bad Bunny’s “Estamos Bien.” He even collaborated with indie veterans Bomba Estéreo on a remix of Amanecer‘s “To My Love.”
Alejandro Ramirez is without a doubt one of the most important producers in pop music today. He is J Balvin’s right-hand man, an alum of the Medellín-rooted Infinity Music crew that catapulted Jose Osorio Balvin to fame. As part of the team that conceptualized hits like “Ginza,” “Safari,” “Machika,” and “Ambiente,” he has helped set the tone for much of the current wave of reggaeton. The Medellín-born producer is now embarking on a solo project that will likely see him continuing to shape the sound of reggaeton’s transformation for years to come.
DVLP can easily say that he can do anything he sets out to accomplish. Since his early days as part of turntablist collective The Allies, he’s worked with some of the biggest hip-hop stars of the 2000s, like Eminem, The Diplomats, and Rick Ross (perhaps most famously, he’s responsible for a little hit called “Fireman” by Lil Wayne). But he’s also collaborated with Latino rappers and pop singers for some time now, producing hits for Paulina Rubio, Enrique Iglesias, and Pitbull. As trap and reggaeton inch closer to the mainstream, through his Transcend.ent imprint, DVLP has been collaborating closely with newer talent, such as Fuego, C. Tangana, and Jesse Baez, helping them reach a new audience in the process.
The 23-year-old Mexican producer is not one to sleep – or sleep on. BrunOG got his start remixing songs by rappers like Álvaro Díaz and Banda Bastön, but his breakthrough came with the ascent of Homegrown Mafia. He’s the architect of some of the hardest tracks by Alemán, Yoga Fire and FNTXY, including the unstoppable posse cut “Homegrizzy Boys.” In 2017, he was nominated for a Latin Grammy for his work on Ghetto Kids’ “Coqueta.”
Hi Music Hi Flow
Ozuna’s Odisea is easily one of the best reggaeton albums in recent memory, thanks to its depth and range. Since Hi Music Hi Flow produced much of the album, it’s a guarantee that this man worked on your favorite Ozuna bop – whether it’s new tracks like “Única” or classics like “Dile Que Tu Me Quieres.” Along with peers Chris Jeday and Gaby Music, he’s also partially responsible for the Puerto Rican vocalist’s dancehall collab with Cardi B, “La Modelo,” which showcases his chops with pretty much any type of beat.
Another man that shines in the current reggaeton pantheon is Juan G. Rivera-Vazquez. He’s also one of the noteworthy names behind Ozuna’s Odisea, as he appears right alongside other producers on this list. A frequent Chris Jeday collaborator, Gaby Music has also been instrumental for Natti Natasha, as he’s provided the backbone for her collab with Becky G, “Sin Pijama,” along with many other tracks.
Dominican producer Felipe Marticotte has been instrumental in building bridges between scenes that sometimes don’t see eye to eye. He made his mark by working closely with Dominican urbano staple Mozart La Para, helping him reach the top of the Dominican charts; however, tracks like Bad Bunny, Mark B and Poeta Callejero’s “Me Llueven” are meeting points for dominicanos and boricuas to finally work together. Peep more of his magic on Arcángel’s recently released album Ares.