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Who Cares? Top 10 Greatest Hip Hop Producers Of All Time

producerEver since the inception of hip hop music, there has been an ongoing debate over who is the “G.O.A.T.” (Greatest Of All Time) lyricist. I’ve managed to find myself in many of these discussions and, quite honestly, I need to take a breather. It’s not that I’m exhausted of the topic, but rather frustrated and annoyed at the typical laundry list of artists that are discussed (2Pac, B.I.G., Nas, Jay-Z, etc.). Additionally, when I engage in these debates with these casual fans they seldom provide concrete evidence or reasoning to support why they believe (insert name here) is the “G.O.A.T.”. It is my theory that these individuals I am referencing heard these names in a hip hop documentary that they saw on VH1 (coincidentally while they were smoking marijuana) and suddenly became experts on the matter.

As much as I’d love to continue the redundant dialogue on “G.O.A.T.” lyricists, I must insist on changing the subject (temporarily). While I am quite aware that all hip hop glory is bestowed upon the Gods of the M.I.C., where would they be without the respective producers who craft the soundscapes for their songs? Many of the great hip hop producers were formerly DJs who learned how to flip samples on an SP-1200 as well as program drum machines. As far as all those “G.O.A.T.” lyricists are concerned, would you be knocking your head to their lyrics without the hot production behind it? I seriously doubt it.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I am no exception to the rule. Having said that, the following list is my Top 10 hip hop Producers Of All Time.

10. MF DOOM

mfdoom

Hip hop’s most villainous lyricist is also a seasoned veteran behind the mixing boards. DOOM’s production style relies heavily on sampling, sampling and more sampling. However, it’s his sample selections that set him apart from his contemporaries. Although he primarily produces for his own solo projects he has also contributed tracks for KMD, Ghostface Killah, Masta Ace, and MF Grimm.   Key Tracks: “Beef Rap”(Mmm..Food), “Go With The Flow”(Operation: Doomsday), “Clipse of Doom” (Fishscale).

9. Pete Rock
Pete-Rock

In the early nineties, Pete Rock made a slew of classics with his partner C
.L. Smooth. Their album Mecca and The Soul Brother is one of the hip hop’s undisputed classics. The singles “Straighten It Out”, “Lots of Lovin’” and “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” were all praised by fans and critics at the time of release. The duo would produce one final album before going on a prolonged hiatus. After they split, Pete Rock continued producing songs for other artists as well as launching his own solo career with his Soul Survivor LP.

8. The Beatminerz (DJ Evil Dee & Mr. Walt)

beatminerz

The production duo of DJ Evil Dee & Mr. Walt helped redefine the sound of New York hip hop in the early 90’s. From 1993-’98, The Beatminerz were tasked with the duty of producing various projects for the Boot Camp Click. Landmark albums such as Black Moon’s Enta Da Stage, Smif N Wessun’s Dah Shinin’ and Heltah Skeltah’s Nocturnal are hailed as classics from the 90’s “Golden Era”.

7. The Bomb Squad (Hank and Keith Shocklee)

bombsquad

The Bomb Squad are pioneers of multi-layered sampling. Known primarily for their work with 2013 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Public Enemy, Hank and Keith Shocklee created incredibly loud and noisy backdrops for Chuck D’s verses that were charged with an erratic intensity that few have been able to replicate. The Bomb Squad sampled everything from James Brown to Slayer and proved to the genre that creativity should have no boundaries.

Key Album: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.

6. Erick Sermon

ES

As one half of the monumental duo EPMD, the “green-eyed bandit” crafted the bulk of their instrumental catalogue. Known for utilizing funk/soul samples and basslines hard enough to blow out your 808s, Sermon’s productions are raw and uncut dope. At the height of EPMD’s popularity they formed a collective known as The Hitsquad which included K-Solo, Das Efx, and a then unknown Redman, all of whom Sermon produced tracks for. After The Hitsquad disbanded in 1992 E Double formed The Def Squad which included himself, Redman, Keith Murray and sometimes Jamal (of Illegal). Eric continued to produce tracks for various hip hop artists into the new millennium. Additionally, he continues to release solo projects and occasionally tour with EPMD.

5. Q-Tip

Qtip

A producer who was clearly ahead of his time, Q-Tip( aka The Abstract) made his mark in the industry producing and rhyming for A Tribe Called Quest. Tribe’s Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders are critical and commercial successes. Q-Tip’s production style is primarily influenced by jazz and funk/soul samples. Many of today’s “hot” producers such as Pharrell Williams and Kanye West credit Q-Tip as being a direct influence on their production styles. Nearly a decade after his departure from ATCQ, he created a classic solo album The Renaissance.

4. Rick Rubin

rick rubin

Pioneering hip hop producer and co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, Rick Rubin has been at the forefront of helping propel the genre into the mainstream. Most of Def Jam’s early artistic successes can be attributed to Rubin’s contributions. It was his idea for Run DMC and Aerosmith to remake “Walk This Way” for a new generation of music fans. He produced the Beastie Boys’ multi-platinum debut album License To Ill as well as LL Cool J’s Radio.

Although he has more or less abandoned the genre to produce albums for rock & roll artists, he occasionally returns to form with artists such as Jay Z and Eminem.

3. Questlove

questlove

Although in recent years his production work has expanded beyond hip hop, it is important that we remember his beginnings with The Roots. While other producers merely dabbled with jazz samples, he assembled an entire band and made original jazz/hip hop fusion. Though The Roots have continued to release new material, the most important LPs in their catalogue are their first four (Organix, Do You Want More?!, Illadelph Halflife and Things Fall Apart). Questlove is also responsible for many of the production for various Okay Player artists and affiliates such as Jay-Z, Common, Blackalicious and Jill Scott.

2. The RZA

Rza

In 1993, the G.O.A.T hip hop group (YES) known as the Wu-Tang Clan emerged from the slums of Shaolin (Staten Island, NY) with their debut album Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers. Produced entirely by The RZA, a new sound was created that redefined New York hip hop. It was a much grimier sound than that of what was coming from the dominant (at the time) West Coast. RZA opted for erratic piano loops and boom bap drum kicks instead of glossy Parliament funk samples. It was a much needed breath of fresh air.

After the critical and commercial success of Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, The RZA continued to produce the bulk of the first round of Wu-Tang solo albums (Tical, Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, Only Built For Cuban Linx, Liquid Swords, and Ironman) all of which are hailed as classics. He continues to produce new music and is highly regarded as one of the greats.

1. DJ Premier
Premo

Nobody has contributed more timeless masterpieces to hip hop music than the legendary DJ Premier. Originally hailing from Houston, he co-founded Gangstarr with Boston native Keith Elam aka The Guru (R.I.P.). At the time of the duo’s late 80’s inception, they agreed that moving to Brooklyn, NY would be in their best interests as New York was the hot spot for hip hop artists looking to sign a recording deal. Shortly after relocating to Brooklyn, Gangstarr signed their first recording deal and proceeded to create multiple classic albums. Although Guru was a great talent in the booth, it was the production of DJ Premier that initially caught my attention and kept me coming back.

Other prominent artists in New York took notice as well. Premo has worked with Rakim, Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Krs-One, Mos Def, M.O.P., Showbiz & AG, OC, Afu-Ra, Fat Joe, Freddie Foxx, MC Lyte, and many others. However, it was within the Gangstarr foundation that much of his greatest instrumentals were made. Jeru The Damaja’s The Sun Rises In The East and Wrath Of The Math LPs were both produced entirely by DJ Premier. Another notable yet overlooked jewel on his resume is Group Home’s Livin’ Proof LP. With all due respect to Lil’ Dap and Melachi The Nutcraker, nobody bought that LP for the lyrical content.

DJ Premier is also the master of crate digging. Whether it’s deploying obscure samples or scratching vocal sections of a hip hop record to create a brand new hook, he has production down to a science. Although he may not have the accolades or the wealth other so-called producers have, they don’t have what he has within the culture: RESPECT and longevity.

Without question, Premo is hip hop’s G.O.A.T. Producer. There is no comparison or counterpoint to that fact.

-Charles E. Rigmaiden

Honorable Mentions:
Easy Mo Bee, Pharrell Williams, Marley Marl

 

The opinions and views expressed here are the opinions of the designated author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or views of any of the individual members of Dead End Hip Hop.

 

 

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21 replies on “Who Cares? Top 10 Greatest Hip Hop Producers Of All Time”

Dre
Da Beatminerz
EA Ski
Bomb Squad
Rza
DJ Premier
N.O. Joe
Lord Jamar

Havoc
Mannie Fresh

this is 100% when u talk of all time not how many they did but how good they did them dr dre? pff he dont even do his beats all scorch on them like still dre and in the club what s the diff all ghost by a white dude yea j dilla is on top 15 and madlib rza and i would put eminem on top 50 but yea like the list and apathy stoup there just to many to name lol clark kent rjd2 dj muggs

my personal top 10 would be ….
1. el-p
2. dilla
3. dre
4. premo
5. rza
6. madlib
7. havoc
8 . questlove
9. hi-tek
10. scott storch

would you guys consider compiling a top 10/20 emcees video i would like to hear all of your separate opinions! kind regards grafik 🙂

I agree with that, EL-Producto, is in fact my favorite Hip Hop producer of all time, the thing is for me, I think a whole lot of people know about him, but they dont really take the time to actually listen to el-ps work and recognize how fucking ahead of his time he was, the guy is a genius, some say he might be cocky and whatnot, but if you listen to the ridiculous production he did on Company flows work, Cannibal ox’s Cold Vein, which in some peoples minds probably has the greatest production ever, and lets not forget the production and lyricism of Fantastic Damage. I mean, Ive listened to a little bit of dilla, rza madlib pete rock, A lot of dr dres beats, some DJ premier, but Ive never heard anybody ANYBODY produce masterful beats like el-p, its just a matter of opinion I guess. But when people completely overlook a guy like El-p who has been in the game and has been consistently producing great joints since the mid 90s, you have to be forced to say something.

“top 10 east coast producers of all time” is a far more accurate title. these guys are all dope but many have very similar styles. actually pretty much all of them except Rubin and RZA.

I understand that you could make a case for any of the producers that you named. That said…I’d like to make a case for two omissions…Jay Dilla & Dr Dre.

Q Tip made your list and his style was “borrowed & influenced” by Jay Dilla.

Dr Dre’s production DOMINATED hip hop for the 90s.

Nuff said. They both should be on this list. Honorable mention to Kanye West and 9th Wonder

Some of this list is agreeable…but biased for sure…hard to believe the West Coast was entirely left out. Yes East Coast has birthed some great hip hop…but so has Dr. Dre, Dj Quik, Battlecat, who all have impacted the culture to the fullest. And there’s more to be mentioned. And to leave out Jay Dee (newbie fans know as J-Dilla) is another jaw dropper!

No Ye? Not even so much as an Honorable Mention? Has he really been disowned to that degree? :/

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