Since the explosion of hip-hop in the '70s and '80s, the role of the producer has generally been associated with mainly crafting beats, often without the presence of live instrumentation.
At last month’s Grammy roundtable, Los Angeles Times pop music critic Ann Powers led a freewheeling conversation with the three hitmakers responsible for Grammy-nominated songs (Alex da Kid, Ari Levine of the production trio the Smeezingtons and RedOne) by Eminem, B.o.B., Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga.
A topic that piqued her interest was how the role of the producer has shifted over the last few decades — and which part the soundsmiths thought they played.
“I think the most important thing is having a vision. Being able to see things before other people can see it,” Alexander Grant — better known as Alex da Kid — told the audience inside the Grammy Museum's Clive Davis Theater. “Most of the songs you're working on, they won't even come out for three or four months at least, maybe longer, so you have to be able to think what's going to be a hit record in six months.”
Check back daily until the Grammy Awards on Feb. 13 to see more of this conversation on pop music.
— Gerrick D. Kennedy