FARGO — For a man without a musical background, Dylan Berg is doing just fine for himself in the music industry.
Berg never played a musical instrument while growing up or in school, but he's always been into music. He started tinkering around with beat production when he was 14 years old.
“I’d find myself going back, before they had Apple Music and Spotify, when I had to buy songs through iTunes, I would listen to beats before lyrics,” Berg said. “I was always drawn to the beats first. I wondered how I could start making beats.”
Throughout high school, by way of the FL Studio computer program and YouTube video tutorials, Berg kept learning and trying to get better. Those tutorials are now paying dividends.
“Pop Out” by Polo G featuring Lil Tjay is in its fifth week in the Billboard Hot 100 and continues to climb, currently sitting at No. 23 on the R&B/Hip Hop chart and No. 60 overall, jumping three and 14 spots, respectively. It cracked the Top 10 of the Top 100: USA chart on Apple Music at No. 9. Berg, also known as Iceberg Beatz, produced the song, which has accumulated more than 44 million views on YouTube.
“That was the validation I needed to say, ‘Wow, this could be my career in the future,’” said Berg, a 2014 Fargo Davies High School graduate.
“I knew he would do it someday,” Dylan’s mother, Jenny Berg, added. “We were very excited for him. He worked hard for this.”
Dylan, who sells his beats online at www.beatstars.com/icebergbeatz/feed, started seeing increased success during his sophomore year of high school. He got his first placement with a major artist by producing Bo Deal’s “Gangstas & Dope Dealers,” which dropped in November 2012.
From that point, the number of artists laying down lyrics over an Iceberg beat only grew. In his senior year, Dylan collaborated with an Atlanta producer by sending over half-finished beats. Through this, he was partially credited on “Dab” by Migos, one of today’s most popular and prominent rap groups. In 2018, Migos had 14 songs in the Billboard Hot 100, which only one other group in history has accomplished: The Beatles.
Dylan has also worked with Atlanta-based rapper Flippa, who was featured on "Dab." Dylan had been going through the motions at his 9-to-5 job at Old Chicago. One day, he got a call from Atlanta.
“(Flippa) wanted to fly me down to Atlanta to his mansion and wanted to record some songs,” Dylan said. “I had been a fan of his since 2013. I was starstruck right away. I could barely talk and was shaking a little bit. I had been working on music so long and waiting for my big break, and that’s what I was working toward for years. I was struggling being a waiter at Old Chicago, waiting for something to happen. That was the big break. He wanted to sign me.”
Dylan has also worked with the likes of Fetty Wap, Soulja Boy, Derez De’Shon and more. He hopes to one day collaborate with some of the game’s top artists, such as Drake, J. Cole, Future and Kendrick Lamar. He desires to be alongside the greatest producers as well, such as multiplatinum producers Murda Beatz and Metro Boomin — though recently, he briefly worked with Murda.
“He’s a superstar,” Dylan said. “I got to talk to him on FaceTime and sent him a half-finished beat. It’s pretty cool to get to work with one of your idols.”
Rewinding to Dylan’s high school days, he knew he wasn't on a traditional path — he already had his name affiliated with popular figures in the rap community back then. Still, he enrolled at North Dakota State University to continue his education and study business.
After two years at NDSU, Dylan decided working toward a degree and a music production career at the same time didn't make sense for him, and he left the university to pursue music production full time. Given his discography and cracking the Hot 100, Dylan said he made the right decision.
“I feel like society pushes people toward, ‘If you don’t go to college, you’re a failure,’” he said. “If you have a dream and could make money off of it, you should pursue it… You can make it happen. I’m a kid from North Dakota and have a song in the Top 100.”
Dylan's family fully backed his decision to give full attention to his craft.
"My parents have always been super supportive of me," Dylan said. "In high school, I played basketball and made beats. They knew I was always working hard at it. When I dropped out, they believed in me. They've always believed in me. It's been great having that support."
"We always knew that was his passion. We didn't want to push him any other direction," Jenny Berg added. "We knew it would be a lot of hard work. We were very supportive in that route. Once we saw his name being recognized, we pushed him more and were very excited."
Dylan is on the verge of two major happenings in his life.
He has been in contact with major label Columbia Records, which boasts the likes of AC/DC, Beyoncé, Adele, John Legend, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Céline Dion, Lil Nas X, Polo G and many more. Some of Columbia's top managers have been asking Dylan for more beats almost daily, and one asked him to fly out to Los Angeles to produce songs for Polo G's debut album.
"It's like perfect timing," Dylan said. "I'm getting in right at the right time."
Going beyond working with just Polo G, Columbia Records is looking to add Dylan's name to its star-studded list of talent. With the opportunity to sign with a major label, Dylan feels a move to Los Angeles later this year with his girlfriend, Payton Mark, is the right decision, given where his career is headed.
"I just want to keep working with as many artists as I can," Dylan said. "I want to get out to LA and start networking and building new relationships and showing people my work ethic and talent."
Dylan is now seeing his fantasies come to fruition on a journey that started with tinkering with software and grinding out beats in his parents' house to getting placements with nationally known artists and having a hit song on the Billboard charts — not to mention closing in on a deal with a major label.
"I get to wake up in the morning and do what I love to do," Dylan said. "It's been a dream come true. It came with a lot of hard work and it's finally starting to pay off."