PRODUCER SPOTLIGHT: Plutonic Lab, DatsGrinny, Nikodimos & SLADE
It has to be said that the Australian scene wouldn’t be where it is today without the incredible work of the producers and engineers that serve as its creative backbone. On our newest ‘Producer Spotlight’ segment we are highlighting four Australian producers and engineers who have been essential to the rise of the local hip-hop, R&B and soul scene. Melbourne’s Plutonic Lab has been an intrinsic part of the rise of many Australian acts, whilst young up-and-comer and fellow Burn City producer and artist Nikodimos is notable for elevating every act he works with. Newcastle’s DatsGrinny struts his confident approach to music-making across all his works, alongside West Sydney’s SLADE who has been instrumental to the come-up of some of the region’s biggest talents.
Melbourne-based producer, artist, engineer and performer Plutonic Lab has been an engrained part of Australian hip-hop, R&B and soul music since his coming to the fore in the mid-90s. Having played a significant role in the growth of acts such as Hilltop Hoods, Drapht and Dialectrix amongst numerous standout local and international artists, Plutonic has created music both under his name and as one half of Australian hip-hop duo Muph & Plutonic. A UK Mercury Prize winner, Plutonic Lab delivered his latest project – an understated EP entitled ‘The New Ruins’ – in 2021 with a stack of features. ‘Casino in the Sky’ (off of the same EP) speaks to his collaborative spirit, with features from West Sydney artists Nardean and Ratu alongside New Zealand’s RAIZA BIZA facilitating a euphoric listen via a platform of swelling strings, subtle chimes and restful drums that allow each artist an opportunity to brandish their rapping and vocal abilities with pride.
Hailing from Newcastle, up-and-coming producer DatsGrinny has impressed with a multifaceted sound that is distinguished by a recognisable flair – effectively demonstrating his poise and character as a producer. Without a doubt Grinny is a well-entrenched asset to the Australian scene having been so critically involved in some impressive hits over the past few years via collaborations with Say True God?, Lisi, Proph3t, Lawd Lance and Nokz78. Grinny always brings out the best in the artists he works with, such as on ‘Beez Knees’ off of Shely210’s 2022 EP ‘Stack or Starve’, a track which is packed with a personality that comes from both Shely210 and KAHUKX’s natural confidence and the beat supplied by DatsGrinny, who opts for a memorable Spanish guitar loop and brash drums. Moreover, his production on DSP’s ‘The Issue Freestyle’ alongside Domba and Deja Miru has been a standout from the year, and has us excited for a reunion of the same three producers on DSP’s upcoming track ‘Fallback’.
Photo by @bellaquiroga
What immediately radiates from Nikodimos upon listening to his music is his immense collaborative spirit. He allows artists the space to unearth within themselves the inspirations and energy that first sparked them into making music and subsequently channels that into a continually unpredictable trail of musical projects. The Melbourne-based producer, instrumentalist and artist is often playful and experimental with his music, never choosing to stay within the guidelines of how a song has to be constructed, be it in his work with the likes of RICEWINE on ‘Lately’, MAMMOTH. on ‘Eccentrik Lovers’ alongside Silentjay, or Agung Mango on their superb collaborative EP ‘SON OF AGUNG’. His album ‘NIKODIMOS WORLD’, released this year, is embedded with a strikingly innovative sonic intention and allows Nikodimos to draw from all over his impressive producer brain. The project draws from old school soul and funk samples but reissues it with a fresh and dynamic twist that is built upon by the incredible array of artists and producers involved in the project.
Producer and engineer SLADE has been an integral cog in Western Sydney’s burgeoning hip-hop and R&B scene over the past couple of years. The young production sensation has excelled across a number of hip-hop, trap, afrobeat, R&B and drill releases from the likes of Youngn Lipz, Blueboy, Sydney Yungins, The 046 and Pistol Pete & Enzo. From the cruisy R&B stylings of YL’s ‘Say It’ to SLADE’s heartfelt guitar work on Blueboy’s 2020 track ‘Grateful’, SLADE is massively gifted at crafting an infectious track that leaves listeners hooked. 2022 has seen SLADE excite listeners with his effort on ENZO’s solo debut ‘Going Back’, an upbeat and self-confident track that displays ENZO’s precise flow and SLADE working his magic via well-timed G-Funk-inspired synths and a rocking beat. Ultimately, SLADE’s impact on the Australian scene cannot be disputed, and his trend-setting musical intelligence and foresight sets him apart as an excellent talent for the future of the Australian hip-hop and R&B world and beyond.
Words by Matthew Badrov