Producer Fantasy Ranking: ChumZilla

by Dan O

To say it flat out, if you are an artist I value I will always be shuffling and reshuffling your options.

The basis of this series is to give voice to something always happening in my head anyway. To say it flat out, if you are an artist I value I will always be shuffling and reshuffling your options. This series asks the question ‘if I had the ability to take one of my favorite producers and let them develop a full album with anyone alive who would it be?’ ChumZilla is the focus this week partially because when I threatened to do a piece like this about Small Professor he is the one who said it should be a series. Beyond that I LOVE ChumZilla production and he’s a bit of a secret weapon. I would love to see his profile raise.

  1. Nomad Carlos-The Reggie Noble of the Jamaican Hip Hop collective Council of The Gods, Nomad Carlos is the number one pick. You never know what Carlos is going to say next it could be brutally honest genuine and eye opening or utterly disgusting or threatening. Carlos has great projects with Farma Beats, The Artivist. I love his newest album Element of Surprize but I prefer Carlos with one producer. ChumZilla key: one of the things Chum seeks is vocal clarity. No overcrowding or odd effects. Whenever someone does an album with him (check Sons of Andre with Scorcese Lorde Jones) new aspects of their voice get to shine in ways they never have before. Carlos is the first name for this. He bombs tracks with unexpected wordplay, un-ignorable imagery, in the way hip hop was intended. All kinetic presence.
  2. Rah Digga-Digga gets talked about like a tsunami that hit and we never recovered. Only two full length albums to her name and she rapped over Nottz, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and Rockwilder production. Her last full album was over ten years ago but she absolutely shined on the last song on Young Zhee’s new project Scumbag. On a project that features Vinnie Paz and Pacewon no one sounded better than Digga. I just know she has more to say and while she could grab more high-profile names ChumZilla is the one. ChumZilla key: I want to tap into the well of prodigious energy Digga has in her soul. Chum is excellent at showcasing crisp sounds that don’t just bang but reverberate. I want that rattle to hit Digga deep in her B Girl spirit so we get all of what we’ve been missing.
  3. Wally Clark-No one in the world writes or performs like Wally Clark does. Some call him the Rodney Dangerfield of Rap living off one liner after one liner. Each more succinct and successful than the last. On his last album GOON (with producer Flu) he ends the song Easy Peasey with “I do a whole show with my cock in my hand, hit the promoter for the dough then blow this popsicle stand.” He isn’t just one of the funniest rappers he talks about dealing from a place of pure frustration like you would your 9 to 5. Beyond that, Wally is hip hop to the core with a deep love of Beatnuts and encyclopedic knowledge of this art. A funny dead serious rhymer he does exceedingly well with one producer. ChumZilla key: track record proves that Chum is a producer not a beatmaker. He’s great at flushing out the themes of an album or concepts behind songs. This is a critical skill with a mind like Wally’s that is bouncing from line to line a la Bruiser Wolf.
  4. Lord Juco-My favorite Canadian MC of all time. Juco isn’t long winded. Only spits what he cares about but when he does can work himself into an incredible performance. When Chong Wizard came on State of The Game we had to talk about Juco’s feature next to Billy Woods and Zilla Rocca on the Midnight Sons album. On the song Honest Living | Crooked Killing Juco closes and ends up in a shouting rage swearing and declaring. It’s such an authentic moment because you won’t find any like it on his fantastic album from last year Details with producer Finn. Juco loves movie references and tying them to life lessons but never fakes where he is emotionally. ChumZilla key: Lord Juco lives in dark themes that allow for a proper venting of frustration. This is ChumZilla’s bag without a doubt. He’s one of the best at turning the boom bap sinister without sacrificing its clarity. I know Juco would shine.
  5. Gabe Nandez-One of the coolest voices in rap with a flow to go along with it. The title track to Ox gets me stupid hype as does the song Darkhorse off Seven with Roper Williams. While Gabe runs in a world of very avant-garde operators, he’s no nonsense. While his bars don’t slouch, they are in our face, direct. If you listen to a Gabe Nandez project you’ll know him by the end. Sincerity is powerful when combined with pure talent. Chumzilla key: I need more Gabe. Last four projects have been 8 songs or less and I miss full album Gabe. ChumZilla is excellent at sequencing, editing, mixing, and mastering. He wouldn’t just find a way to extend the Gabe Nandez experience but blow it up to the size of his tremendous 2019 album Diplomacy. With an open mind I feel like both parties could learn from each other in meaningful ways.

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