If summer is all about finding the ultimate aural crack that'll soundtrack our good times, fall is about maintaining that high. Behind most every pop, R&B, or rap hit is a globetrotting mega-producer (Dr. Luke, Max Martin, RedOne) or upstart songwriter-performer (Bruno Mars, Taio Cruz) imbued with a superhuman ability to craft tracks that'll lodge for better ("F**k You") or for worse ("California Gurls") into our craniums. Now that we're firmly ensconced in September, let's take a look at five top summer savants who'll continue to shape what we're hearing this season.
Twenty-two-year-old Benjamin Levin started out as part of Spank Rock's extended family and has graduated to become the right-hand man of hit-making genius Dr. Luke. Specializing in electro power-pop, the protégé has worked on Ke$ha's "Tik Tok," Katy Perry's "California Gurls" and Taio Cruz's "Dynamite." Now a big deal in his own right, Blanco played a hand in the gestation of Bruno Mars' "Grenade," and worked on 31 Seconds to Takeoff, the debut from the ubiquitous Mike Posner, the R&B singer behind the rat-pack throwback "Cooler Than Me." This student hasn't become the master yet, but he’s well on his way ...
Alex Da Kid
Employing a bit of rap and a bit of rock, London-based producer Alexander Grant is fast becoming the go-to guy for a big break. He’s responsible for stoking B.o.B hype by recruiting Paramore's Hayley Williams to guest on "Airplanes" and for jump-starting Eminem's career again with "Love the Way You Lie," thanks to a sticky chorus from Rihanna. Da Kid's handiwork can also be found all over Nicki Minaj's debut, Pink Friday (out in November), Rihanna's Loud (likewise set for November), and Avril Lavigne's fourth studio album — the latter possibly the most intriguing, challenging use of his crossover talents.
James Scheffer, the Florida-based producer/songwriter behind T.I.'s "Whatever You Like" and Lil Wayne's "Lollipop" is already a certifiable ear-candyman. But his latest collabs could trump even his past achievements. In addition to lending assists to B.o.B, freshly anointed American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez, and Nelly, Jonsin is planning to put an '80s synth-wave stamp on upcoming material from Beyoncé and lend an edge to new stuff from Shakira. Then there's rapper-on-the-rise Yelawolf; hailed as The Next Eminem, he's recruited Jonsin to help him fulfill that promise on his long-awaited debut (out in October), Trunk Muzik: 0-60.
Not to be confused with the football player—turned—pro wrestler—turned Born Again Christian, the Virginia-reared producer is the 19-year-old wunderkind behind Rock Ross' "B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast)" and "MC Hammer." Still flying under the radar, Luger has since worked with burgeoning-talent-magnet Kanye West. But he may truly make his name with the release of Flockaveli, the October debut he worked on for rapper Waka Flocka Flame, the hotly tipped Gucci Mane affiliate with an equally awesome name.
The one-man folkie songwriting machine behind indie critical favorite Bon Iver is shaping up to be the new Chris Martin (i.e. hip-hop's favorite sensitive white crooner who isn't John Mayer). Buddying up with Kanye West, Vernon collaborated (along with Jay-Z, Rick Ross, and Nicki Minaj) on Yeezy's epic "Monster"; later this year, he'll pop up on West's Dark Twisted Fantasy (out in November). Vernon reportedly won't give up whom he's working with, but has confirmed that other hook-happy rappers are knocking on his door.