Best Producer

Kenautis Smith

Everything you need to know about Kenautis Smith you can learn from listening to his work on Rockwell Knuckles' 2008 release Northside Phenomenon. Lesson one: There is a beat for every occasion. Smith matches Knuckles' righteous braggadocio on tracks like "Live Wire" with futuristic swirls of synthesizer, a haunting piano sample and straight-up rock & roll drums. On mellow grooves like "Hello Morning," Smith comes through with subdued keyboards, a foot-tapping drum-and-bass rhythm and a stunning jazz trumpet. Smith has worked with seemingly every artist in town, from Nite Owl to Knuckles, and the veteran has also found the time to serve as a mentor for up-and-coming star producers like Black Spade.

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