Let’s say you’re a rising star on the cloud rap circuit. You’ve begun to build a following, you’ve racked up a viral single that has your name buzzing in the right circles, labels are bidding on your services — you just need that one hit to take you over the top. Who do you call?
If you’re smart, you do what Bhad Bhabie, Denzel Curry, Lil Pump, Ski Mask The Slump God, Smokepurpp, Wifisfuneral, and XXXTentacion have all done: You hit up Ronny J. The “OMG, Ronny” that ad-lib graces devastating, sonic boom-laden tracks from these and other burgeoning young rap stars has quickly become a signifier of both quality and a near-guaranteed banger. Ronny J crafts hits primed to demolish your speakers with blown-out 808s and buzzing, spaceship laser synths that make any of his productions sound like a War Of The Worlds-esque alien invasion movie — albeit one with undeniable rhythm.
Ronny J, born Ronald Oneil Spence, Jr. in Camden, New Jersey, found his way into the rap game via a roundabout path that saw him playing drums in church, pursuing arts and architecture, moving to Miami, and falling in with Denzel Curry’s then-bubbling C9 crew. The sounds he slapped together in those early recording sessions became both the foundation and the barometer for the scuzzy, bombed-out South Florida style. If it doesn’t measure up to Ronny’s irrepressible, spastic intensity, it probably won’t float for most of the cloud rap set, who’ve all proven that despite a tendency toward wild-eyed variety, they invariably come back home to the swampy trap Ronny helped make their trademark.
In 2018, though, the majors came calling, looking for that bombastic, red-lined-mixing board signature style. Bhad Bhabie’s breakout single “Hi Bich”? Ronny J did that. Iggy Azalea’s criminally-overlooked, comeback, get-money anthem with Tyga, “Kream“? Thank you, Ronny J (with additional production from GT and Wallis Lane). OMG, Ronny, did you play both sides of the white-boy war by foisting beats onto both Eminem (“The Ringer“) and Machine Gun Kelly (“Rap Devil“)? Absolutely.
Ronny J was everywhere last year, from the familiar, homegrown projects of longtime collaborators like Denzel Curry (he co-produced a pair of tracks on Ta13oo) and Ski Mask (“La La” from major label debut Stokeley) to burgeoning — and controversial — superstars like Tekashi 69 (“Fefe”) and Lil Pump (“I Love It” with Kanye West). And of course he received a coveted invite to Dreamville’s lauded Revenge Of The Dreamers III marathon recording camp.
Additionally, to limit his impact solely to production would sell his appeal short. Last year’s mixtape, OMGRonny, found the producer bringing his vocal skills to the forefront. As it happens, he’s proved to be as adept in front of the mic as behind a computer monitor with Reason running. His gift for painting casually detailed verbal tableaus of his newfound luxury lifestyle shines through on tracks like “824” where he rhymes: “Fendi the case on my phone, only got designer on / I stay up late in the zone, recently I’m never home.” On the other solo standout, “Ohshi,” he slickly boasts, “Everywhere I go I turn into a zoo now.” He’s got crowds going crazy just off the beat tag.
He’s well aware of his placement in the food chain at this particular wild animal park as well. As he told Complex in an interview, “I’m not your average producer. When I step in the room, you cannot ignore me… I literally made all of this happen. I put in the work and now it’s all unfolding. It’s cool. It’s so much, it’s overwhelming, but I want more.” To that end, he’s already announced the follow-up to OMGRonny in the form of a debut solo album for Atlantic Records called Jupiter. To date, he’s only released a trio of singles from the upcoming album including “Doesn’t Matter” with no release date in mind.
That gives him the breathing room to spend a little more time excavating the depths of his sound. Ronny’s got the hits and the name recognition. Now, he only needs the growth and craftsmanship. With expectations as high as the ones on him now, his only options are to fly or fall, and he can only do the former if he manages to surprise an audience that knows him well and is always thirsty for more. Fortunately for him, he’s got the biggest hitmaker in the game in his corner, the man with the golden touch — himself.
Ronny J is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.