As a producer and beatmaker, Mustard (initially known as DJ Mustard) worked on hits that were pivotal to the careers of several rappers and singers as well as producing strong solo material of his own. His high-energy, party-minded, and club-friendly signature sound was infectious to the point that…
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I could make a DJ Mustard beat in one hour. I’m not even exaggerating. The only tools I would really need are a handful of snappy Bay Area drum samples, a simple piano loop, and repetitive chants that hit at the end of the second chorus. DJ Mustard’s formula is ridiculously easy to follow; it would take very minimal effort to achieve his self-declared “ratchet” sound.
This “ratchet” sound, despite being excruciatingly simplistic and uninspired, has been dominating hip hop radio for nearly all of 2014. DJ Mustard’s reign began in February, with the release of YG’s Drake-assisted “Who Do You Love?,” a wildly popular club banger. Mustard picked up even more traction as songs like Ty Dolla $ign’s “Paranoid” and Kid Ink’s “Show Me” quickly ascended to the top of Billboard’s Hip-Hop/R&B chart. Timing was the most crucial aspect of these releases; Mustard was able to take full advantage of the rare, quiet lull in hip hop’s landscape during the first quarter of the year.
As summer approached, Mustardmania was in full force. Mustard had successfully set the tone for mainstream hip hop in 2014 with his bottomless supply of commercially-appealing releases. He was responsible for seemingly every other track played on hip hop radio. His signature “ratchet” sound had (and quite frankly, still has) a sweeping monopoly over the airwaves.
DJ Mustard’s genius lies not within his musical prowess, but rather within his excellent sense of marketability. He has his finger right on the pulse of what casual hip hop listeners respond well to, and has been delivering it consistently. While his music is by no means groundbreaking or even remotely interesting, he is able to engage listeners with his repetitive, infectious sounds.
Mustard has built up a broad network of rising artists such as Tinashe and Ty Dolla $ign, allowing him to capitalize on their growing success. His work with these developing artists has established him as a certified hitmaker. He is now in such high demand that he can get away with charging upwards of $20,000 for a single beat, despite the fact that anyone with a decent sample library could produce something of the same caliber.
All things considered, DJ Mustard’s success roots from his immaculate branding. He has engineered an instantly recognizable sound and has been able to keep his music in heavy rotation for nearly an entire year. Mustard knows exactly how to stay relevant, and is able to do so with minimal effort.
It’s difficult not to be awestruck by the far-reaching impact DJ Mustard has had on hip hop this year. His music may be dull and unoriginal, but nobody can deny his massive influence on popular culture.