Meet All 13 Producers on Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DAMN.’
While Kendrick's label TDE has yet to announce an official title or reveal the album artwork, we were treated to the full composer credits for the 14-track LP, which were made available when iTunes went live last evening with their pre-order.
In total, 13 producers worked alongside Kendrick on the follow-up to his GRAMMY-winning album To Pimp a Butterfly, which includes both familiar faces (DJ Dahi, Sounwave, Terrace Martin) and collaborative newcomers (BADBADNOTGOOD, Ricci Riera, Teddy Walton).
Just like our breakdown for the all-star cast of beatmakers behind Rick Ross' newly-released Rather You Than Me album, below is a jam-packed crib sheet detailing everything you need to know about the talented producers and instrumentalists whose sonic landscapes will help Kendrick paint lyrical portraits in less than seven days.
The Alchemist (@Alchemist)
A 25-year veteran of the music industry, The Alchemist has worked with practically all your favorite rappers, from underground staples like Dilated Peoples, Pharoahe Monch and the late Sean Price to new school talents like Earl Sweatshirt, Joey Bada$$ and ScHoolboy Q. When the Southern California native isn't lacing rap's most respected names with authentic hip-hop ear candy or traveling the world as a regular feature in Action Bronson's TV endeavors, he's most likely producing and recording beats for his own stash—Alc has three full-length albums, seven EPs and 25 collaborative projects to his name—or DJing for longtime associate and close friend Eminem. The Alchemist, along with Syk Sense, DJ Dahi and Axlfolie, produced Kendrick's "The Heart Part 4."
The Toronto foursome has been making their own unique brand of music—an amalgamation of experimental electronica, jazz and hip-hop—for the past eight years, but they became hip-hop household names in 2015 when they joined forces with Wu-Tang Clan legend Ghostface Killah for a collaborative album entitled Sour Soul. Chicago emcee Mick Jenkins and fellow Canadian KAYTRANADA both appear on the group's fourth studio album, aptly titled IV, which was released in 2016.
Selected by our editorial team as the Best Producer of 2016, Cardo has been on a serious roll the past four years. In addition to producing “untitled 02” and the front-half of "untitled 07 | levitate" on Kendrick's untitled unmastered. side project, as well as Travis Scott's now-Platinum single "Goosebumps" (which features Kendrick), the 32-year-old beatmaker has racked up discography credits with Drake ("Grammys"), Jeezy ("Seen It All"), Meek Mill ("Levels"), ScHoolboy Q ("THat Part") and many more. Needless to say, the Fort Worth, Texas resident has come a long way since landing two beat placements on Wiz Khalifa's acclaimed 2010 mixtape Kush & Orange Juice.
DJ Dahi (@DjDahi)
The Los Angeles producer is no stranger to a TDE track listing, having produced the Jay Rock-assisted "Money Trees" off Kendrick's good kid, m.A.A.d city, as well as ScHoolboy Q's "Sexting," SZA's "Babylon" and Ab-Soul's "Tree of Life." When Dahi isn't in the studio working on a Top Dawg Entertainment album, however, he can be found crafting records for a who's who of hip-hop stars, including Big Sean ("I Don't Fuck with You"), Drake ("Worst Behavior," "U with Me?") and Travis Scott ("90210"). While Dahi's behind-the-boards resume speaks for itself, his 2015 campaign, which saw him contribute five tracks to Vince Staples' acclaimed Summertime '06 and another three to Dr. Dre's Compton, skyrocketed his profile into elite territory.
Greg Kurstin (@GregKurstin)
Greg Kurstin's name might be the least familiar to hip-hop fans on this list, but it's not for a lack of talent. The 47-year-old Los Angeles native won the GRAMMY for Producer of the Year in 2017, in addition to awards for Album, Record and Song of the Year for his work on Adele's 25 and "Hello" (which he also co-wrote, in addition to playing bass, guitar, piano and keyboards). Kurstin has been a force in pop music over the last ten years, working with Sia, Beck, Britney Spears, Ellie Goulding, Pink and more, contributing to releases that have sold more than 60 million copies cumulatively and racking up 10 GRAMMY nominations. Kurstin has collaborated with Kendrick before, having produced Sia's "The Greatest" single, which features Kendrick.
Mike WiLL Made-It (@MikeWiLLMadeIt)
From humble beginnings hustling beats at his Kroger job that ended once Gucci Mane became the first major artist to rap on one of his beats, Mike Will has, in the last six years, climbed his way up to become one of the biggest names in hip-hop and mainstream music. He's supplied huge hits for Beyoncé ("Formation"), G.O.O.D. Music ("Mercy"), Miley Cyrus ("We Can't Stop"), Lil Wayne ("Love Me"), Rihanna ("Pour It Up") and many more, scored a No. 1 hit in "Black Beatles" with Rae Sremmurd—signed to his own EarDrummers imprint—and released a total of five mixtapes and one studio album (Ransom 2) to date. He's also no stranger to the TDE camp, having worked with ScHoolboy Q ("My Hatin' Joint," "What They Want"), Isaiah Rashad ("A Lot") and Kendrick himself ("Buy The World," "Perfect Pint" and "HUMBLE.").
Hailing from Los Angeles, producer Rahki is well-versed in Kendrick Lamar studio sessions, having won two GRAMMYs for his production on To Pimp a Butterfly ("i," "Institutionalized") and scoring two nominations for his work on good kid, m.A.A.d city ("Black Boy Fly"). Mentored by DJ Khalil, Rahki has also won GRAMMYs for work with Eminem and Lecrae, and has produced for Ab-Soul ("INvocation"), Curren$y ("#Jetsgo"), Mac Miller ("Happy Birthday"), Syd ("Insecurities") and Travis Scott ("Hell of a Night").
Ricci Riera (@RicciRiera)
The name Ricci Riera may not immediately ring a bell, but his work definitely will. During his time as part of the production outfit THC, Ricci helped craft fan favorites like Kendrick Lamar’s “m.A.A.d city,” “Cartoon and Cereal” and ScHoolboy Q’s “Collard Greens.” Ricci has since stepped out on his own and scored Platinum plaques and GRAMMY nominations for his work on Drake’s Views (“U with Me?”) and Travis Scott’s Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight (“sdp interlude”). It’s hard to make any assumptions given Ricci’s limited solo catalog, but there’s obviously a reason he has not one, but two production credits on Kendrick’s new album. The only safe bet is that we’re probably going to be hearing his name a lot more in the next few years.
Having worked on nine of 12 songs, Sounwave is the most frequent collaborator on Kendrick’s album credits, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. The fellow Compton native has been down with TDE since they were puppies, making his debut on 2009’s Kendrick Lamar EP and remaining a key player on all of Kendrick’s projects—as well as ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron and Blank Face LP—ever since. Most notably, Sounwave is responsible for hits like “A.D.H.D.,” “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “King Kunta,” which doesn’t give many clues away as to what this new album might sound like. But you can guarantee his beats will be fire.
Steve Lacy (@stevelacys)
This time last year, you probably knew Steve Lacy as that kid who played bass for The Internet. Today, he’s a budding star in his own right with an impressive solo project under his belt. Beyond his gorgeous pipes and gift on the guitar, the 18-year-old wunderkind has proved himself as a capable producer: he executive produced The Internet’s GRAMMY-nominated album Ego Death and has since made beats for Big Sean (“Selfish”), J. Cole (“Foldin Clothes”) and GoldLink (“Some Girl”). Kendrick’s album will be Steve Lacy’s biggest look so far, but given his incredible ascension over the last 12 months, it’s really not that surprising. How Kendrick utilized Steve’s talents remains to be seen, but if the kid’s recent collaborations are anything to go by, expect track seven on K. Dot’s new album to be sweet, soulful and soaked in Cali sun.
Teddy Walton (@teddywalton)
Those unfamiliar with 24-year-old producer Teddy Walton won't be for very long. In addition to landing a production credit on Kendrick's new album, the Memphis native recently nabbed placements on GoldLink's RCA debut ("Crew") and Freddie Gibbs' You Only Live 2wice ("Crushed Glass"). Currently, Walton is wrapping up work on Nipsey Hussle's forthcoming album, is in the studio with Houston rapper Maxo Kream, and is just beginning to craft his own full-length project, entitled Tokyo Highway.
Terrace Martin (@terracemartin)
Not only one of TDE’s earliest collaborators, Terrace Martin has become one of Kendrick’s most trusted confidants in recent years. The veteran producer and saxophonist, who’s an accomplished artist in his own right, sprinkled his jazzy magic on Section.80 (“Ab-Soul’s Outro”) and good kid, m.A.A.d city (“Real”) before making up the braintrust behind To Pimp a Butterfly. Beyond his musical contributions, Martin also has perhaps the deepest understanding of Kendrick's work, second only to the man himself. “We do music for the person that’s contemplating suicide,” he said. “For the person that’s in jail with no way out…for the people that understand struggle.” Although Terrace Martin’s name only appears once in the credits for Kendrick’s new album, his footprint might be bigger than you think.
9th Wonder (@9thwonder)
Hailing from North Carolina, 9th has long established himself as one of the most respected producers in hip-hop and one of the best when it comes to sampling. First making a name for himself as the production third of Little Brother and shortly after scoring a big break with a placement on Jay Z's The Black Album ("Threat"), the always soulful producer has since founded It's A Wonderful World Music Group—which houses Jamla Records and production team The Soul Council—and worked with a who's who of underground and mainstream talent, including Rapsody, De La Soul, Phonte, Anderson .Paak, Big K.R.I.T., Erykah Badu and more. 9th tapped Kendrick for his fourth studio album The Wonder Years ("Enjoy") in 2011, shortly after Kenny solicited a "prove it" beat over Twitter.