The golden gramophone for Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical is perhaps the ultimate accolade for anyone whose talents are best served behind a mixing desk. Phil Ramone, Rick Rubin, and Max Martin are just a few of the legendary behind-the-scenes names who've received the coveted award since it was added to the ceremony in 1975. But winners such as Pharrell Williams, Mark Ronson, and Stevie Wonder have also proven that the Recording Academy are open to honoring those who can take center stage, too.
This year's crop have undoubtedly all been pivotal to the pop, rock and hip-hop landscapes of the past 12 months. Two-time winner Jack Antonoff continued on his mission to conquer the charts for all of eternity by joining forces with two of his superstar regular cohorts, while first-time nominee Daniel Nigro helped not just one but two teen stars parlay their early success into adulthood.
Hit-Boy and Metro Boomin both vied for the title of hardest-working rap producer with an exhausting list of credits. At the other end of the scale, D'Mile, focused most of his attention on just one burgeoning talent.
Here's a closer look at the nominees for Producer Of The Year at the 2024 GRAMMYs.
Jack Antonoff will be hoping to replicate Babyface's mid-'90s dominance by becoming only the second-ever artist to win the Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical GRAMMY three times in a row. The pop maestro is on the cusp of history thanks to fruitful working relationships with two of the era's most prolific female singer-songwriters.
Antonoff has been recognized for co-producing the entirety of Taylor Swift's Midnights, the dreamlike concept album which spawned a record-breaking 10 U.S. Top 10 singles in the same week including Lana Del Rey collaboration "Snow on the Beach." The latter's equally alluring Did You Know There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd also benefited from Antonoff's magic touch on all but three of its 16 tracks including a guest appearance from his own alt-pop outfit Bleachers.
Antonoff's production empire further grew this year when he entered the studio with another Swift-adjacent (albeit briefly) act, The 1975, for their fifth LP, Being Funny In A Foreign Language. But despite his chart ubiquity, the New Jersey native insists he has little interest in courting the mainstream.
"I do think that there's a misconception about what I do and what pop music is," he told The Face in September. "There's a certain group of people who think it's about appealing to the masses, [which is] not how I feel. I've never made anything hoping that everyone would like it."
Alongside his own individual accolades, Antonoff has previously shared GRAMMYs with his first band fun. (Best New Artist, Song of the Year for "We Are Young") Swift (Album of the Year for both 1989 and Folklore), and St. Vincent (Best Rock Song for "Masseduction" and Best Alternative Music Album for Daddy's Home).
But proving that all the awards glory hasn't gone to his head, Antonoff dedicated much of his acceptance speech last year to the unsung hero who joined him on stage: "I sit in the studio all day with one person — this is Laura, who engineers and mixes the records with us. We just sit there all f—ing day. We were there yesterday, we'll be there tomorrow, and this is all completely for Laura."
Dernst "D'Mile" Emile II
While last year's nomination came for his work with a modern R&B legend, Mary J. Blige, this year's is courtesy of a relatively new diva on the block.
Dernst Emile II, a.k.a. R&B/hip-hop producer D'Mile took the production reins on 10 of the 11 tracks on Victoria Monét's long-awaited full-length debut Jaguar II. The lush melting pot of disco, dancehall, funk, and soul firmly established the Ariana Grande hitmaker as a star in her own right.
It certainly lived up to the expectations that D'Mile, who also worked on Monét's Jaguar EP, put forward to GRAMMY.com last year: "We dug a little deeper. She is an artist that I feel really comfortable with. There might be a couple of songs that you wouldn't expect from her, and then there are songs that are just incredible records."
Of course, D'Mile has already made GRAMMY history having become the first-ever songwriter to pick up consecutive Song Of The Year awards, first winning with H.E.R.'s "I Can't Breathe" and then with Silk Sonic's "Leave the Door Open."
D'Mile sadly didn't get to accept the former in person due to COVID-19 protocols. But thankfully, the hitmaker did get to join Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak on stage for the latter where he dedicated the award to his late Haitian vocalist mother Yanick Étienne (the same Philly soul throwback also picked up Record Of The Year and Best R&B Song).
When asked about his pioneering feat by Vulture, D’Mile still appeared to be in a state of shock: "Man, these past two — even three — years have been just a wild ride for me. I definitely didn't expect to set a record. Even when I heard that it was possible, I was like, Wow, really? No one's ever done that? It's just wild to me that I'm at the GRAMMYs, let alone winning..."
D'Mile better get used to the feeling. The New Yorker was also victorious at the 2022 GRAMMYs thanks to his contributions on Lucky Daye's Best Progressive R&B Album Table for Two. And this second consecutive nod suggests it's only a matter of time before Producer of the Year - Non-Classical is added to the trophy cabinet that also includes an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
From Ty Dolla $ign and Big Sean to Travis Scott and ASAP Rocky — name pretty much any major hip-hop star of the last 20 years and there's a good chance Chauncey Alexander Hollis Jr., a.k.a. Hit-Boy, has given them some audacious beats.
The Californian already has three GRAMMY Awards to his name, having co-produced Kanye West and Jay-Z's "N— in Paris," showcased his own lyrical flow on Nipsey Hussle's "Racks in the Middle," and worked on all 13 tracks on Nas' King's Disease.
Hit-Boy's prolific new partnership with the latter rap god has undoubtedly helped him pick up a second Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical GRAMMY nomination, specifically his work on the two Magic sequels and King's Disease III. Likewise, his production skills on Dreamville's "Just Face It" and Don Toliver's "Bus Stop."
But the aptly-named beatmaker has also been celebrated for his own headlining efforts, including the Surf and Drown mixtape, the Alchemist collaboration "Slipping Into Darkness," and the Victims and Villains LP recorded alongside nu-soul crooner Musiq Soulchild, all of which arrived within the space of just three months.
Hit-Boy's work schedule may sound truly exhausting, but as he told GRAMMY.com in 2020, the star thrives on keeping busy: "It's too many artists trying to tap in for me to just work on one thing at a time, but I still am able to give my focus. It's like quantity and quality. I don't know how to explain it right now."
And Hit-Boy will certainly be appreciative if it proves to be second time lucky. Discussing his first Producer of the Year nod, he told Variety, "It would definitely be a dream come true … Just to be recognized is amazing, but to win? That would be major, man. Just for the people that have followed my story and know how much I've stayed down, that would be major."
Perhaps surprisingly, considering he's been behind Hot 100 No.1s by Migos and The Weeknd, trap genius Metro Boomin is the only Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical nominee this year without a GRAMMY already to his name. In fact, he's only ever received one nomination — Album of the Year for his sole contribution to Coldplay's Music of the Spheres.
Could 2024 be the year this changes? Well, it wouldn't be for the want of trying. The man born Leland Tyler Wayne has laid down beats for everyone from Travis Scott ("Til Further Notice") and Lil Durk ("War Bout It") to Drake ("More M's") and Young Thug ("Oh U Went") over the period of eligibility.
And like his fellow studio wizard Hit-Boy, Metro Boomin has also been recognized for his own material including his Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse cuts "Am I Dreaming" and "Calling," and three tracks from his sophomore Heroes and Villains ("Creepin'," "Superhero," and "Trance"),
Luckily, the St. Louis native seems likely to take it in his stride if he once again misses out on a golden gramophone. Metro Boomin was seen as a shoo-in for the 2018 Producer Of The Year category but the award went to Greg Kurstin. The hitmaker told Billboard, "You know, we don't be tripping off stuff like that. We just keep it moving, man … I'm just here to service the people. As long as that happens what I do, that's really all that what matters to me."
That doesn't mean Boomin believes he's unworthy of the accolade, though, with the star recently telling Ebony, "I knew I was here to stay before I even really got here, because I knew how much time I was putting into this…..I'm always trying to outdo myself. This is one of the first times in my career that I can really feel the ascension; I can feel something happening, and I'm well aware of it."
Mid-2000s emo rock outfit As Tall as Lions might not have got anywhere near the most prestigious night on the music industry calendar. But frontman Daniel Nigro is now racking up the GRAMMY nominations as one of the go-to guys for Gen-Z.
All four of the New Yorker's previous nods were for his work with Disney Channel graduate Olivia Rodrigo, including the Best Pop Album category in which Sour reigned supreme. But in his first Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical showing, Nigro has also been acknowledged for collaborating with some other cool names.
That includes Chappell Roan, the dark-pop singer-songwriter who called on Nigro to produce the entirety of her debut album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess. Irish troubadour Dermot Kennedy ("Divide") and former Chairlift vocalist Caroline Polachek ("Welcome To My Island") have also helped the one-time jingle writer to build a GRAMMY-worthy discography over the past 12 months.
Of course, it's Nigro's second effort with Rodrigo, Guts, that may best put him in contention for the big prize. He produced and co-wrote all 12 tracks on the pop-punk chart-topper, a committed approach he told Billboard is far preferable to being a songwriter-for-hire: "I know I'm definitely a pop producer [now], but I think I struggled a long time with that whole, 'You're part of a record' … I never felt satisfied doing just a song or two with an artist. I always felt detached. I come from a world where when something happens I want to call you up and celebrate the wins and vent about the losses and be a part of it [all]."
Nigro seems keen to continue guiding the careers of those young enough to be his kids. "I think it's just about being honest and talking about what's going on in their lives," Nigro replied when asked by Vulture what he admires about artists such as Rodrigo and Conan Gray.
"I think in their generation, something that they gravitate towards is the specificity of lyrics and honesty, which is always interesting," he continued to Vulture. "Whereas our generation was much more about metaphor and vagueness in lyrics, something that's left for interpretation, you know? It seems this generation is much more into something that's right on the nose."
The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.
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2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List