Producers are an integral part of music creation, but so few of these sonic gurus get the recognition they deserve. HEAT RISING looks at the best beats by an up-and-coming producer, and talks about where they’re from (ROOTS), what they’ve done (RESUME), and why they’re an exciting presence in music today (REASONS TO WATCH).

ROOTS: It’s not uncommon for producers to start rapping. Some of the greatest emcees of all time started as producers; Dr Dre, Kanye West, and Diddy all banked heavy production credits before spitting on their first release. Hit-Boy, the beatmaker behind “Niggas In Paris,” is trying to make that transition now, with lukewarm results. His first official project as a rapper, HITstory, showed little promise, and a high-profile feature on the SUPER BLACK MAN REMIX of “Scream & Shout” didn’t do him any favours: “Now it’s Hit-Boy on a hit, boy.” To Hit-Boy’s credit, it’s not an easy jump to make.

If you’re a producer with mic ambitions, or a rapper who wants to produce, how do you make it easy on yourself? Diversify before you blow up.

A colleague and collaborator of Hit-Boy, Chase N. Cashe has juggled rapping and producing since he was fifteen years old. Los Angeles-based New Orleans transplant Jesse “Chase N. Cashe” Woodard started rapping when he was just thirteen, and the transition to producing wasn’t far behind. With some high-profile production work and a handful of albums and mixtapes (where he’s the primary artist) under his belt, it’s hard to tell whether he’s a producer or a rapper first. Sure, he’s good at both — but because Chase N. Cash has marketed himself as a producer/rapper hybrid from day one, he doesn’t have the same hill to climb as Hit-Boy.

Faithful to his moniker, Chase N. Cashe started getting serious about producing when he realized he could make money off of it. He started entering beat battles for the prize money, and sold his beats online for $50 to $100 each. He was winning battles, and people were buying beats, so Cashe figured he was on to something with the production aspect of his arsenal. After graduating from high school, he moved from New Orleans to Hollywood to pursue music full-time.

Chase N. Cashe and Hit-Boy met in 2006, through a mutual connection with producer Polow Da Don (Will Smith, Fergie, Chris Brown, Usher). The two bonded through a mutual respect for each other’s music, which ultimately led to the duo establishing Surf Club, a group of up-and-coming songwriters, producers, and artists, including Kent M$NEY, Chili Chil, Stacy Barthe, Young Ry, and B. Carr. Cashe describes Surf Club as a combination of Dipset and N.E.R.D.

Within two years of the formation of the Surf Club, Chase N. Cashe managed to place beats with The Pussycat Dolls, Flo Rida, and Brandy.

RESUME: In 2009, Chase N. Cashe co-produced three tracks on the collaborative We Are Young Money album, which ultimately opened the door to the first major hit co-produced by Cashe and Hit-Boy. “Drop The World” is the only good cut from Lil Wayne’s godawful Rebirth. No, wait—I can’t overstate this enough—it’s the only listenable song from Rebirth. The song peaked at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100, and gave the Surf Club a high profile sonic calling card.

Chase N. Cashe and the Surf Club’s biggest shoutout comes courtesy of October’s Very Own. On Drake’s “9AM In Dallas,” Cashe’s longtime pal Drizzy shouts out the SC movement:

“Chase N. Cashe, that’s my brother from the Surf Club
Damn, that nigga always kept it so hood
Back when we would smoke good at the Oakwoods
And have girls fall through like coins in a couch
Now we just fuckin ‘all the bitches they warned us about”

Chase N. Cashe also blessed Drake’s Take Care, handling production on the introspective “Look What You’ve Done”:

As a rapper, Chase N. Cash has released two albums (2011′s Gumbeaux and 2012′s Charm) and most recently, a pretty decent mixtape.

REASONS TO WATCH: Chase N. Cashe’s come-up has been a slow burn, but when he inevitably produces or even guest features on a hit (boy!), he’ll be on an accelerated path towards that exclusive clique of effective hybrid rapper-producers.

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