Lexus Lewis and Why Aspiring Producers Need to Shut Up.
I’m here to defend the man better known as…
As a producer myself I dream of shifting the music world on it’s axis at some point in the near future… and I’m a young producer at 25… Lex Luger did it when he was 19. If you listen to rap, you’re familiar with his work and have a strong opinion on him (and most producers hate him). If you don’t listen to rap, let me take you on a crash course of the Suffolk, VA native.
Largely unheard of until 2010 when he popped up on one track of a Fabolous mixtape… He had a main debut that was the equivalent of Ben Kingsley in Ghandi where Kingsley took home the Oscar for Best Actor and the movie won Best Picture. Though his style is pretty inflexible and formulaic, in 2010 when his synthesizers and custom drums hit the airwaves it did two major things that any great producer can do… Transformed careers:
In terms of Rick Ross and “B.M.F.”, Pitchfork put it best:
Ross was a successful artist before he ever hooked up with Luger, but his stunning transition from begrudgingly accepted popular rapper to one of the genre’s most respected artists can basically be traced directly back to Luger’s beat for “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)”, the song that will go down as the indelible single of Ross’ career.
Before “Hard in da Paint”, Waka Flocka was a largely generic trap rapper from Atlanta in the shadow of Gucci Mane. Not only did Lex Luger’s beats give Waka a platform to stand out alone in, it gave that platform the structural beams that allowed Waka to find his footing and discover his own strengths as an artist (namely chanted hooks that sound catchy). With Lex at his side, Waka’s debut album ‘Flockaveli’ (produced almost entirely by Lex Luger) landed 4 Billboard charting singles (all produced by Lex) and even had one, “No Hands”, hit #1 on the Billboard Rap Songs chart.
His sound can be described easily as “trap music.” Not a new genre in any sense, but a popular Atlanta/southern sound made famous by rappers like Young Jeezy, T.I., or Gucci Mane. The most notable trap producers before Lex were either Shawty Redd or D. Rich. The sound is characterized by synthesized horns and strings, BIG 808 drums, and “trappy” (AKA very fast) hi-hat, drum, and snare rolls throughout the tracks.
After his initial explosion in fame he had every rapper in the country calling him to produce on their albums. Most notably Lex did a single for the most titanically hyped rap album in years, “H.A.M.” for the Jay-Z/Kanye West collaboration album. He’s also responsible for popular mainstream singles for Ace Hood, Wale, and others.
So why do people hate him? Well… Beyond the fact that all of his beats sound similar (they’re easy to pick out) and almost all of his melodic shifts are only a shift in key… It’s that…
His style is easily mimicked.And I mean… very easily. Most successful producers can do things that others can’t and aspiring producers will never be able to master the intricacies of their compositions. Such is not reality with young Lexus and his style has been mimicked ten-fold, birthing the careers of many new producers just building upon his blueprint (as he did Shawty Redd/D. Rich before him). Basically, his style is copied a lot. The proof is never more clear than Lil’ Wayne’s single last year (featuring Rick Ross, mind you), entitled “John”:
That beat, produced by Ayo The Producer, is pretty much a Lex Luger beat to the “t”. In fact, Lex was none too happy when he first heard the song that clearly bared his mark:
As more and more producers have come to jump on this “trap” sound Lex has been largely phased out compared to a year ago as his style hasn’t evolved much, it’s important to understand what he did and why people hate him.
As a producer, I don’t hate him. I envy him. I think his success is earned through hard work and he showed up in the game at the right time with the right twist. I congratulate him on his success and will be interested to see how/if he changes.
But other producers… oh these other producers. They HATE Lex Luger. Mostly because he’s found such great success off such a formulaic style that he didn’t even really invent (I’m laying off this part, since no musician really “invents” anything, it’s all evolution). As this post has become long-winded, to every producers who hates on Lex, here are my points of defense:
- While he didn’t invent or popularize the trap sound… He has his finger on the pulse better than any other producer who does it. If it was so easy to make these megahits then Shawty Redd or D. Rich would’ve had songs this big. There’s something magnetic about the combinations of his melodies and the drums he uses; he took what made trap music great and perfected it.
- He was 19 when he blew up… if you can’t cheer for a kid coming from poverty to making lots of money without doing so illegally, in fact by creating pieces of art that resonate with a generation, then you need to re-evaluate what’s worth cheering for.
- Like any great producer, he shifted rap… Like Dr. Dre in the early 1990’s and again in the early 2000’s… Like Kanye and Just Blaze in the mid 2000’s… He developed a sound that everyone else copied when he finished.
- Yes, his style is easy to mimick and many people are now… But that shouldn’t bother aspiring producers. Let people waste their times walking in shoes they’ll never fill. Don’t hate the player (Lex), hate the game.
Oh yeah, one more thing for all these aspiring producers hating on Lex Luger…
Shut up. **Turns on “B.M.F.”**