From: Toronto, Ontatio, Canada
Recent bangers: Drake f/ Majid Jordan "Hold On We're Going Home" (2013), DJ Khaled f/ Drake, Lil Wayne & Rick Ross "No New Friends" (2013), A$AP Rocky f/ Drake, Kendrick Lamar & 2 Chainz "Fuckin' Problems" (2012)
Since meeting Drake in the mid-2000s, Canadian producer 40 has built an inimitable body of work characterized by ephemeral tracks full of muted drums and gaunt synth sounds. His moody ambience fit Drake's self-effacing introspection hand in glove, and the two have proceeded to turn mainstream rap on its ear, developing somber soundscapes that ran diametrically opposed to nearly everything on the radio.
Born Noah Shebib, 40 first found work as a child actor playing bit roles in sitcoms and movies (perhaps most notably in Sofia Coppola's Virgin Suicides) before diving into a career in hip-hop, DJing first and then producing with such a fervor that it earned him the nickname "40 Days/40 Nights." Most of his production work has been for Drake; he scored and executive produced Drake's breakthrough mixtape So Far Gone as well as his retail albums Thank Me Later, Take Care and this year's Nothing Was the Same. The duo made unlikely hits out of songs like the sleepy drunk texting anthem "Marvin's Room."
40's role as the producer in residence for one of modern rap's biggest MCs was enough to land him on this list alone, but he also deserves credit for his occasional work outside the OVO fold, most recently on Nas' Aaron Hall sampling "Bye Baby", a highlight on the Queens rapper's 2012 comeback album Life Is Good, and A$AP Rocky's platinum selling Billboard Top 10 posse cut "Fuckin' Problems" with help from Drake. We're still letting Nothing Was the Same sink in, but so far, we can definitely say that album is as much 40's as it is Drake's.