While they go back and forth on social media about the epic potential beat battle between two modern superstar producers and beefing over petty sh*t, I wanted to use this piece to detail Southside’s and Lex Luger’s respective careers and their collective influence in hip hop today.
Co-founding the production team, 808 Mafia in 2010, as the in-house production for Waka Flocka Flame’s “Brick Squad Monopoly” label under Gucci Mane’s label, 1017 Brick Squad, Lex Luger and Southside both played vital roles in the rise and mainstream popularity of trap music in the 2010s.
Lex Luger was the first of the duo to blow up and reach massive acclaim on a mainstream level, first starting with Waka Flocka’s Hard in da Paint in late 2009, which originally appeared on his LeBron Flocka James mixtape. This placement and the popularity of this song, in part, led Luger to become the face of the new trap wave that started taking full form in 2010. Thereafter, according to his interview with Red Bull Academy, Lex linked with Rick Ross’ A&R/Director, Spliff TV, and helped further his placements within the industry:
The first major artist that hit me up was Rick Ross through his cameraman Spiff TV. Spiff helped me out a lot in the industry and got me endless placements like “Hustle Hard,” shit like that. He emailed me and said that Rick Ross wanted the “Hard in da Paint” instrumental so that he can do a remix. I was like, “Cool cool, I’ll do that,” but never did. I sent him all of my other shit, so by that point he didn’t even care about “Hard in the Paint,” because when they heard “B.M.F.” and “MC Hammer,” that was the sound [they wanted].
From there, Lex went on a tear, scoring hits such as Ace Hood’s “Hustle Hard”, Waka’s “Grove Street Party”, Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “H.A.M”, and probably the biggest record, Rick Ross’ “B.M.F”. However, after the run Lex Luger went on between 2010-2012 was hampered by a number of factors: an unexplained slowdown in single output from Luger himself and numerous tutorials done on his productions from aspiring producers replicated on Youtube which saturated his sound; the latter of which we’ll further detail below.
While Lex blew first and was on fire on a mainstream level, Southside had a longer grind building his name into a household staple we know now. As co-founder of 808 Mafia, South steadily built his catalog up working with various Brick Squad Monopoly acts’ mixtapes, producing the bulk of Waka’s and Gucci’s collaborative project Ferrari Boyz, and one of my early favorites, Meek Mill’s “Racked Up Shawty”.
Southside further cemented his reputation as a producer outside of BSM, between the years of 2011-2014 by producing hits such as Pusha T’s Millions, Rich Gang’s Tapout and Young Thug’s breakout hit, Danny Glover (the remix Nicki Minaj killed by the way). Also, during this time period, Southside had assumed control over the production team he co-founded, 808 Mafia, as the CEO and started signing/introducing producers that have gone on to build their own name in their own right, which we’ll break down below in the next section.
In 2014/2015, Southside leveled up to super producer status with his on-going work with fellow Atlanta native, Future; producing/co-producing much of Future’s acclaimed mixtape/album run such as Monster (Monster, Commas), 56 Nights with DJ Esco (produced the bulk of the project), DS2 (the bulk of it such as my favorite, Percocet & Stripper Joint, Blow A Bag, Groupies) and co-producing with another early 808 Mafia associate, Metro Boomin on Future’s and Drake’s collaborative effort What a Time to be Alive.
Popularity of Trap music
While previous producer legends of their respective eras, from the South were the originators/precursors trap such as Lil Jon, Shawty Redd, Zaytoven and Drumma Boy, Lex Luger and Southside built upon the blueprint they had laid down and assisted in large part, the rise of in the global popularity of trap music. The early sound Lex and South helped built is often characterized by heavily using organs, orchestral elements such as brass, strings, woodwinds, typically around 140 bpm, that provided the backdrop to the street music being cultivated by these southern artists like Future, 2 Chainz, Rick Ross and more.
However, the sound Lex and South helped create together, was being replicated and reproduced on the secondary market; starting significantly with Lex’s style, in the wake of early ‘10s bangers he produced by aspiring producers and artists looking for that gritty sound.
Need further evidence? Here’s two highly rated tutorials on both of their work from Youtube:
Rise of Drill music
In 2012, in the wake of the 808 Mafia founders rising success, drill music emerged as significant sub-genre within hip hop that helped ascend the rise of multiple artists. Drill music’s emergence is owed in part of the trap music that Lex and South help popularized several years prior. The genre’s most acclaimed producer, Young Chop, incorporated the fundamental elements of what made trap music popular to new levels; particularly using pulsating rhythms of 808 basslines that, in synchronization with the kicks and/or snares that hit on the 3rd/6th beats of the bar in unique variations. These sounds Chop, also in association with members of his production partners BandKamp, helped assisted in the rise of drill’s most popular artists such as, Montana of 300, King Louie, Fredo Santana, the grim reaper (shout out Akademiks) Lil Reese, Lil Durk and arguably the biggest artist, Chief Keef (who actually dabbles in making beats too).
Introducing New Producers
While Lex Luger may not have been involved in the later development of what we know as one of the biggest production teams today, his successes and later Southside’s, gave light and new opportunities for newer producers to make a name for themselves inside the camp. With Southside’s taking leadership reins, he signed new beatmakers such as: TM88 (produced French Montana’s Moses, Future’s Chosen One, fan favorite Codeine Crazy and more), Tarentino (produced Future’s classic “March Madness”), 808 Mafia’s Vice President Fuse100 (made some titties move with his co-production Big Sean’s “Moves”, early 808 Mafia associate, Metro Boomin (who Southside frequently collaborates with), and many more talented members assembled into the roster. As a collective, they’ve collaborated and co-produced, utilizing each other’s skill sets to make the bangers we know and love today.
Read The Hundred’s article detailing more of 808 Mafia’s work.
Rap it up
Who I’d have in a potential beat battle between Lex Luger and Southside? At this current juncture, I’d go with Southside as a slight edge; partly because at this point in their respective careers, putting aside Southside’s current stature in the game, I think Southside has more hits in his catalog to play in a potential battle if we’re judging by rules/standard Just Blaze and Swizz Beatz set in the prior battle (highlights here) a few weeks battle. However, with them taking shots of each other, threatening to pull up on each other, the likelihood of seeing these two influential hitmakers in a friendly competition seem as likely as a collaboration between Jeezy and Gucci Mane to happen.
While it is disappointing to see them both beefing over unclear differences known to the wider producer community but I hope this piece serves as a reminder to both Southside and Lex Luger and to aspiring producers, to their collective influence on hip hop these last 7 years.