Which hip-hop producer had the biggest year? Who had the most impact on the sound of rap in 2017?
The answers to those questions are subjective, of course, but with a little data analysis we can start to see a picture of which producers had the most commercial success in 2017. So, we dug through this year's RIAA certifications and SPS (sales plus streaming) figures released by Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan to see which producer rose above the rest over the last 12 months.
It wasn't close. When it comes to sales figures and chart success, Metro Boomin is head and shoulders above the rest. He is listed as the producer on 90 songs released this year and has managed 23.5 million total sales—as well as 131 weeks inside the Billboard top 20 (56 of which were spent inside the top 10).
Metro Boomin’s sales performance compared to his hip-hop production peers is staggering. He collaborated with both Louis Bell (who comes in second when it comes to singles sales) and Frank Dukes on Post Malone and Quavo’s massive “Congratulations” hit, but he's streaked ahead of every rap producer with his close collaborative relationships with Migos, Big Sean, 21 Savage, and Future.
HOT 100 CHARTS
Metro’s chart run on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2017 has been impressive, showing longevity few hip-hop artists achieve. He has spent a total of 103 weeks inside the top 20, and 43 weeks inside the top 10 thanks to "Tunnel Vision" by Kodak Black, "I Get The Bag" by Gucci Mane and Migos, "Bounce Back" by Big Sean, "Bank Account" by 21 Savage, "Bad & Boujee" by Migos and Lil Uzi Vert (which also spent 3 weeks at number 1), "Mask Off" by Future, and "Congratulations" by Post Malone and Quavo.
The gap between Metro and his closest competition is vast. His nearest rap producing competitors in 2017 are DJ Khaled and Mike Will Made It—but Metro betters them by a factor of 2.4 when it comes to weeks spent in the top 20.
COMPARED TO ARTISTS OF ALL GENRES
Metro's Hot 100 chart run in 2017 is so impressive, he's even managed to out-chart every single other artist this year, regardless of genre.
Albums are slightly more difficult to calculate for producers, but with the bulk of Metro Boomin's production coming from album cuts, it's important to quantify his impact on the biggest records of 2017.
The following analysis looks at the percentage of songs on an album that a producer contributes to and multiplies total album sales, total weeks inside the top 20, and top 10 (of the Billboard 200) by that percentage. This gives an idea of how much a producer contributed to sales and chart positions.
Metro Boomin comes out ahead of his peers, yet again, with 1.53 million album sales attributed to him—although it's much closer on this occasion.
Metro contributed to 12 major albums this year, as well as releasing four collaborative records on which he produced every song: Without Warning with Offset and 21 Savage, Perfect Timing with Nav, Droptopwop with Gucci Mane, and Double or Nothing with Big Sean. Without Warning, Perfect Timing, and Double or Nothing contributed heavily to his totals. Metro's work on Stoney by Post Malone, Future by Future, I Decided by Big Sean and Issa Album by 21 Savage all netted him upwards of 100,000 sales attributions.
Top Dawg had production credits on seven tracks from Kendrick Lamar's 2.5 million selling DAMN. He and Sounwave picked up all their sales contributions via that one album. 40 had a huge year thanks entirely to Drake. His contributions to More Life from 2017 and Views (which still sold well this year despite being released in 2016) gave him 1.13 million attributed sales. No I.D. was the sole producer on Jay-Z's 2017 album 444, which is certified platinum by the RIAA—propelling him into the top 5.
BILLBOARD ALBUM CHARTS
Across all the projects he has contributed to, Metro has spent 28 weeks in the Billboard 200 top 20, and 13 weeks inside the top 10. Only Sounwave spent more time in the top 10, via his work on Kendrick’s DAMN.
This chart run places him in rarefied air. His success and tireless output calls back to the mixtape and feature run Lil Wayne was on from 2006-2009, Future’s dominance from 2015 to mid-2017, and all number of famous and legendary hip-hop runs: Jay-Z from 1998-2003, Eminem from 1999-2004, Ja Rule from 1999 to 2001, and DMX’s scorching 1998. By the numbers, the manner in which he has soundtracked 2017 could be compared to the sped-up soul sample trend kicked off by Bink!, Just Blaze and Kanye on Jay-Z’s The Blueprint in 2001, or Swizz Beatz’s Ruff Ryder’s anthems.
Based on sales figures and Billboard chart appearances, Metro Boomin was head and shoulders above his peers in 2017.
Note: Sales figures are based on RIAA certifications and SPS (sales plus streaming) figures released by Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan. Album sales and weeks spent on charts are calculated by determining the percentage of songs on an album that a producer contributes to, and multiplies total album sales, total weeks inside the top 20, and top 10 (of the Billboard 200) by that percentage. Ben Carter digs into the data behind your favorite artists. You can see more of his work at Ben's Big Blog.