The Greatest Producers of All-Time: Honorable Mentions, Part II

Part II. Hoverboards don’t work on water unless you’ve got MPC-1200s. See Also: The Greatest Producers of All Time: Honorable Mentions, Part I The Greatest Producers of All-Time:...
By    November 4, 2011

Part II. Hoverboards don’t work on water unless you’ve got MPC-1200s.

See Also:

The Greatest Producers of All Time: Honorable Mentions, Part I

The Greatest Producers of All-Time: Honorable Mentions, Part III

Naming yourself “Bink!” leads one to assume that you were a founding member of Harlem World, not a certified head cracking producer with classics for Lost Boyz, Jay-Z, Rick Ross, and Kanye West. “Beasts from the East” singlehandedly made me want to rap. “1-900-Hustler” made me want to sell drugs. “Lights Camera Action” turned me out after 3 rum and cokes. “Cigar Music” had me spending my last check on a medallion with a beard and sunglasses. “Devil in a New Dress” had me want to take her back.  “Blueprint (My Momma Love)” is the Mother’s Day anthem for hustlers. And Freeway’s “When They Remember” makes you feel fucking invincible.–Zilla Rocca

MP3: Lost Boyz ft. A+, Canibus, & Redman-“Beasts from the East”
MP3: Jay-Z ft. Beanie Sigel, Freeway, & Young Chris-“1-900 Hustler”

Blockhead is the funniest producer since Prince Paul; he charges double to cop beats if you’re a female emcee. But ain’t shit sweet about his production. From his subterranean classics with Aesop Rock (“Commencement at the Obedience Academy”, “Daylight”, “None Shall Pass”) to his solo amber street light stick-ups on Ninja Tune, Block’s output the past decade is what rap heads always hoped from DJ Shadow: layered and filthy dollar bin boom bap with a touch of jazz, trip hop, and sketch comedy (PFAC MOTHERFUCKERS!!!).–Zilla Rocca

MP3: Blockhead-“Forest Crunk”
MP3: Blockhead-“Which One of You Jerks Drank My Arnold Palmer”

Andre 3000

It’s funny how respected and beloved Three Stacks is on the mic now that he drops maybe 60 bars a year. And yet Rico Wade of Organized Noize believes Andre became a GREAT producer back in 1998…the year when Outkast dropped Aquemini. Like his favorite emcee (and reticent producer) Q-Tip, Dre doesn’t bring much attention to the fact that he is a master of production. As one-third of Earthtone III with Big Boi and Mr. DJ, it’s hard to pinpoint 3000’s solo work amidst the Kast catalogue. Glimmering Southern comfort routed through Prince and the Revolution’s synth set-up with a busted Roland 808 seems to be his signature on “Rosa Parks”, “GhettoMusick”, “Millionaire” by Kelis, “Hey Ya”, “You Ain’t No DJ”.–Zilla Rocca

MP3: Big Boi ft. Yelawolf-“You Ain’t No DJ”
MP3: Andre 3000-“Hey Ya”

I remember reading an interview with J-Zone ages ago. He was blown away by guys like Pete Rock who make multiple beats per day. Jay confessed to making one beat a week. His beats SOUNDED like they took a week to make, with no hooks, no radio-friendly 8 bar loops, and absolutely no quantized, proggy arrangements. And it sounded fun.

With equal reverence for Bomb Squad, Tim Dog, Spice-1, and X-Clan, Jay was funny and misogynistic on the mic while pulling off Madlib, Dilla, and Exile production tricks unheard until the Abelton/Fruity Loops/Serato revolution pulled back the curtain on the magicians.  Check the chops on “Gimme Gimme” with Masta Ace, “G.O.D.” from The Leak Brothers, and the hardwood alchemy of his solo joint “A Friendly Game of Basketball”. —Zilla Rocca

MP3: J-Zone ft. Masta Ace-“Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie”
MP3: J-Zone-“A Friendly Game of Basketball”


Marley Marl’s partner\protege, vastly underrated until his ascension to fitting cult hero status sometime during the 00s. His best work was never flashy, it was measured and subtly engrossing. As such it was extremely well suited to accompany the kind of intelligent street smart narratives that crystallized as the essence of the mid-90s New York rap. His collaboration with Larry-O as Real Live is generally and correctly regarded as his masterpiece, and it remains one of the best ‘unknown’ East Coast albums. —Alex Piyevsky

ZIP: K-Def-The Most Underrated Compilation (via)

Warren G
Warren G is a bit tricky to pin down. His name comes to mind immediately when G-Funk is mentioned, but his style wasn’t particularly original or innovative. The man did make some very great beats and he deserves credit for that, but he owes at least some of his success to association. He made one of the most ubiquitous rap songs of all time, he did a song with Jackie Chan. “Honorable Mention” feels about right. —Alex Piyevski

MP3: The Dove Shack-“Summertime in the LBC”
MP3: Nate Dogg ft. Warren G-“Nobody Does It Better”

Ced Gee

He’s Ultra, and he’s a veteran. As one of the early proponants of sample chopping Ced Gee laid the foundation for modern rap music. It was this shift in production technique that ultimately gave the music its thump, and he thumped emphatically. Listen no further than ‘Ego Trippin’’: 25 years young and still infectiously raw.–Dan Love

MP3: Tim Dog-“Fuck Compton”
MP3: Ultramagnetic MC’s-“Ego Trippin’

DJ Spinna

Spinna’s boom bap pedigree is only one part of the story. His versatility as a DJ-minded producer is perhaps the more significant reason for this honorable mention, having translated mid 90s indie success into a well-established career of party rocking and musical experimentation behind both the boards and turntables. Nicely played, sir. —Dan Love

MP3: Michael Jackson – We’re Almost There (DJ Spinna Remix)
MP3: Shabaam Sahdeeq ft. Eminem, Kwest Tha Madd Lad-“5 Star Generals”

Geoff Barrow

When you think of Portishead and hip-hop, it may be along the lines of who’s sampled the band – RZA, Timbaland and Three 6 Mafia, for example – rather than the other way round. But Geoff Barrow, the production nerve centre of the Bristol-based trio, cut his teeth as a tape operator for Massive Attack, and if it wasn’t for he and his bandmates’ obsession with noir-ish cinema, it may very well be hip-hop, and not trip-hop, that Barrow would now be known for. But we’re largely talking a difference of nomenclature here: Barrow’s a beatmaker, plain and simple, and an exceptional one at that. Witness “Only You”, “Machine Gun”, or “Biscuit” for some of his best work.Matt Shea

MP3: Portishead-“Essential Mix, 4/23/1995)” (Left-Click)

Big Boi

Taking tricks from original production partners Organized Noize, OutKast’s Antwan Andre ‘Big Boi’ Patton would use the ATliens and Aquemini recording sessions to in time become a skilled producer himself. Big’s productions these days tend to be hepped-up, heavily-layered, funk-laden party cuts, and as the years mount since the last OutKast album, it seems to be a growing part of his artistry. He co-produced almost the entirety of his blazing solo record Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, and it’s easy to imagine the Atlanta-based artist appearing higher on future lists. Matt Shea

MP3: Big Boi ft. T.I. & Khujo Goodie-“Tangerine”
MP3: Killer Mike ft. Big Boi-“My Chrome”

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