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DJ Mustard sets the beat for mainstream hip-hop and R&B
DJ Mustard sets the beat for mainstream hip-hop and R&B

On a quiet Tuesday night in September, in an overly air-conditioned Mid-City recording studio, DJ Mustard was alone and preparing to work. The L.A.-based producer, one of the defining figures in hip-hop at the moment, is known for his stark and club-ready sound commonly called "ratchet" as heard on rap-radio staples by YG, Ty Dolla Sign, Trey Songz and scores of others. His songs use simple, spacious synth figures and looming bass notes, played at a midtempo pace right between party music and slow-rolling street vibes. That night, he had a song for Rihanna that was coming due, and he needed to finish the beat. But before starting the night's edits, he warmed up by watching...

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