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DJ Mustard: Rap's Groundhog Day

Illustration for article titled DJ Mustard: Raps Groundhog Day

Every producer, in any genre, has a signature sound. Creating that sound, and making it work throughout an entire career, is something that only a few people can say that they've mastered.


In rap, you can almost instantly recognize who produced which song just from the first ten seconds because of a certain motif on a beat. Production conglomerates like Organized Noize and The Neptunes crafted their own distinct sound over 15 years of work. DJ Premier, 9th Wonder, and even Kanye West berthed a voice through beat making that became like a brand name before you even knew who they were on a mainstream level.

These days, we have DJs and producers like Young Chop and Mike Will Made It, who stamp their products with a tag, letting you know this is a beat they made, sold and got featured on a tape or album. Tagging is nothing new, but it has seemed to get more prevalent as of late.


Being able to spawn a sound that becomes your calling card is a good sign that you're probably one of the industry's cornerstones, but in one case, you become what makes the industry predictably stale.

Case in point: DJ Mustard.

In the last two years, Mustard (whose given name is Dijon McFarlane, so the title makes sense) was behind some of the biggest hits in hip-hop. He engineered massive radio hits like 2 Chainz's, "I'm Different," Tyga's "Rack City," and his most recent mega-hit, YG's "My N*gga."

Though it is a small sample size, each of those singles encapsulates DJ Mustard's production style and sound. His use of the "Hey!" chant, predominant snares, and claps/snaps makes most of his songs sound like near carbon copies, with variations on pitch and tempo.


The Mustard sound even trickled into the biggest song of the summer, Iggy Azalea's "Fancy." Even though it wasn't produced by the man himself, it reeks of Mustard's influence on the industry.

In a genre that relies so heavily on budding trends to dictate the sound of the music (like what Southern/Houston-centric trill and Chicago-based drill music has done over the last few years), DJ Mustard's ability to capitalize on the same basic sound from track to track has reflected on what people want to hear.


Creatively, Mustard doesn't add much to rap's landscape. Sonically, he makes music that does sound good, his tracks are catchy as all hell, but there's no boundaries being pushed. His sound is safe, and while it may just be the next passing fad in an ever-changing business, it's watering down the quality of what we listen to.

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