Some music producers are in the game for the fame. DJ Khaled, Mike Will Made It, Zaytoven, Metro Boomin, and DJ Mustard add a tag — a producer's signature drop — to the first two to six seconds of their songs, leaving their mark on the track and announcing their work to listeners.
But for some producers, staying low-key is the major key.
"I just want my music to be heard," says Ben Billions, a Miami producer who has engineered for DJ Khaled for more than ten years. Having a catchy tag on a record is least important to him, he says, because it's the music and hard work that got him to where he is now.
The Delaware transplant got his start at Miami's Circle House Studios, giving him exactly what he needed to jump-start his career. He was hired as an intern and worked his way up to a head position as an engineer. The job connected him with some of Miami's most popular artists, including Trick Daddy, along with a handful of Billboard's top charters. Through it all, he says, the recognition lay in the music, not the person who produced it.
"When you hear certain tags from producers, people like to associate it with a time period," Billions says. Staying tagless allows the music to speak for itself and promotes timeless records. "The last thing I want to do is sound like 2015 again," Billions chuckles over the phone.
Today, Billions' discography includes Beyoncé's Grammy-nominated "6 Inch" and the Weeknd's "Acquainted," "Often," and "Angel," from the singer's platinum-selling album Beauty Behind the Madness. All of those singles remain tagless.
Billions' colleague, Carol City native Danny Boy Styles, also lets the beats ride tagless when it comes to engineering and producing records. He's worked with Belly and the Weeknd and has produced records for French Montana, Meek Mill, and Juicy J. He also worked as a producer on the real record of the year, Beyoncé's Lemonade.
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"I try to stay out of the limelight," Styles says. "When you invest your time into something that didn't get you there, you start focusing on the wrong things."
After earning Grammy nominations for Lemonade, Styles has concentrated on producing under-the-radar talent. "Working with new artists gives me something fresh to work with," he says. "Artists that have already established their sound don't really have the void to create something new."
It also allows him to step out of his box and play in other genres. "Producers get stuck in a genre, and I want to make sure I switch up all the time," Styles says. "To the producers that do have their tags on the records, it works for them. Anyone cheering for the culture is great. It's just not me, and I choose to focus on the music."