Producers who tend to keep their place behind the scenes are often overlooked or even unknown outside the music sphere, rarely extending themselves into existence in the minds of fans and media. Sadly, the list of producers that the consumer side of music celebrates, ourselves included, is often shockingly short in comparison with the list of fronting artists. But what about the producers that double their extensive workloads and release their own music as soloists?
All too often, there is a disconnect between the two. Fans may not know that their favorite artists help to engineer the music of others, tending to miss out on a huge portion of prolific creators’ canons. With as much music as an artist like Kanye West or Travis Scott put out under their own names, there is twice as much out there that they’ve given their hand to in production. Stranger still, fans may have a tendency to enjoy the sound and styling of certain producers, and even go as far as to look for their names in billing credits, but remain unaware and unversed in the producers’ careers as solo artists.
Thankfully, in the modern music scene, producers seem to have a continuously increasing presence in the limelight, receiving the acknowledgment and praise that they deserve for their unparalleled role in music, while also relishing in more successful independent careers. Where producers once struggled to breach the barrier between producer and fronting artist, many now find themselves outshining the very artists they produce for.
Young guns like Metro Boomin’ and Monte Booker, for example, often draw as much if not more of an audience to a track or a project than the names of the artists that they engineer for. It’s no surprise that the two, amongst many others, have garnered a high level of respect as solo artists in the process. More often than not, these emerging superstars call home to the realms of hip-hop and R&B where experimentation is rampant and talent is endless, allowing the producers more creative freedom and more artists with which to collaborate. At the same time, the genres also draw many producers and artists who once found successful solo careers in other styles. Electronic artists Dpat and Atu have teamed up with the talented R&B vocalist Brent Faiyaz in order to regain relevancy on the scene and expand the reaches of their talent. And they’re not alone. Across the electronic spectrum, producers who may or may not have high-standing solo careers, are lining up to work with the talent flooding from hip-hop and R&B. Kaytranada, Disclosure, 9th Wonder, Sango, Crayon, and Knxledge, are just a handful of the hundreds of electronic producers that have collaborated with rappers and vocalists in recent years.
In yet another example of instrumentalists and producers collaborating with hip-hop artists, world-renowned New Orleans jazz trumpeter, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah has collaborated with Vic Mensa in an effort for the two artists to introduce themselves and their music to genres that share many parallels, creating a powerful and bold track, Freedom is A Word, in the process. So, whether it’s prominent hip-hop and R&B artists trying their hand at production, producers putting forth effort into solo careers, or existing talent on both sides of the spectrum teaming up to create something exciting and new while expanding the reaches of music and fans in the process, the collaborative efforts between instrumentalists, producers, lyricists, and vocalists has resulted in a more well-rounded generation of artists putting out more diverse and creative music.
So where did this trend come from? Who started it? Sure, producers have always been perhaps the most important presence driving music, but only recently have instrumental artists and audio engineers stepped out from behind the scenes and created flourishing, widespread solo careers for themselves. The rise of electronic music, a return to the preference for traditional instrumental talent, and the growing trend of fronting artists, particularly in hip-hop and R&B, publicly promoting their producers has all contributed to those behind the scenes being recognized more as artists themselves. One of the artists to thank for the transition who has not just helped to shape the modern states of hip-hop, R&B, jazz, and funk through an unmatched production career, but also been a driving force in the rise of electronic producers and traditional instrumentalists become full-fledged superstars in their own right is auditory architect, Terrace Martin.
Much of his success is due to the fact that Martin is much more than just the architect; he might as well be the concept developer, the interior designer, the landscaper, the engineer, and the entire construction crew, contributing in every way possible to every project to which he lends his hand. In addition to his talent as a producer, Martin is also a songwriter, rapper, vocalist, saxophonist, percussionist, keyboardist, guitarist, and bassist. He does it all, and others in the industry have taken notice of his incredible talent since he first appeared on the scene.
A talented youngster, Martin found himself first chair saxophone in the California All-State jazz band, earning himself an appearance on Jay Leno, and becoming a child prodigy sensation. After his artful childhood provided him a scholarship to California School of the Arts, Martin shifted gears and began touring with then Puff Daddy, playing with renowned jazz group, Billy Higgins’ World Stage All-Stars, and producing tracks for Snoop Dogg. In 2010, he released his debut album, The Demo which features Snoop, Wiz Khalifa, Pete Rock, DJ Quick, and Kurupt in addition to his own vocals and verses. Since, he has put out a long-list of solo mixtapes, EP’s, and albums all taking different directions and exhibiting his many talents. Between his solo work and his even more extensive work in production, Martin has collaborated with an extensive list of high-profile artists not even worth trying to include in this article. Instead, it’s better to just say that hip-hop, soul, R&B, and funk would be nowhere near their impressive existing statures without his influence and talent.
Though it’s difficult to pinpoint an artist in music that Terrace Martin hasn’t already collaborated with, a musician who represents a similar level of instrumental ability and exists within the bounds of similar styles while at the same time being more predominant in his role as a front man, which would allow Martin to do what he does best in a heavier role behind the scenes, does exist. That artist is Sacramento hip-hop, soul, R&B, and funk phenom, The Philharmonik. The 23-year old rapper, vocalist, instrumentalist, and producer is part of the new generation of multidimensional artists inspired and driven by the role of someone like Terrace Martin, who with his illustrious career, is a founding father of the modern neo-soul, funk, hip-hop hybrids like The Philharmonik. And now, with an exploding fan base, an honorable musical focus on righteous and important themes, and fresh on the heels of his must-listen, self-titled debut album, The Philharmonik is primed to become a major player on the global music scene. Other artists with his similar talent range are few in number, many in accolades, and much in success and influence. From the late Prince, to D’angelo, Anderson .Paak, and Terrace Martin himself, The Philharmonik may quite possibly be next in line to the throne of multidimensional kings that bring together genres, fan bases, and the world as a whole under the united front of beautiful, diverse music.
The two in collaboration would work as a sort of teacher and student, mentor and protégé, master and apprentice duo that would result in both of their unparalleled levels of talent being driven to the stratosphere. Both exude such saturated levels of skills along every stop of the music process that, assuming they could control and direct the bountiful amount of their combined creativity, a collaborative project could come to define the work of multidimensional artists, act as a cornerstone for the realms of neo-soul, modern funk, hip-hop, and R&B, and exist as a mark to strive for in the production of all future releases across the styles that they touch. Whether talking about the existing musical structure whose design Terrace Martin has largely overseen, or the Philaharmonik-led future of multidimensional talents redefining the boundaries of music itself, music in many ways is the hands of these two artists. A collaboration would simply ensure that the future is indeed bright.