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20 of the Most Influential Hip Hop Producers of All Time

  1. Fade

    Fade

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    Hip Hop wouldn't be where it is today if it weren't for the producers that provide the backbone to every track. It's always the rappers and singers that get most of the attention, but it's the producers that are the driving force.

    I have compiled a list of 20 of the most influential Hip Hop producers of all time, a list that is always hard to put together since there are so many great producers. Some have been left out, but it's always hard to choose the best of the best. Check it out:


    20. Neptunes

    neptunes.jpg

    Best Work:
    In Search Of… (2001)

    The Neptunes are made up of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, and they were at their peak in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Known for their work with countless Hip Hop, R&B and Pop artists, they had a heavy influence on those genres with their uptempo, yet hard-hitting beats.

    19. DJ Quik

    djquik.jpg

    Best Work:
    Rhythm-al-ism (1998)

    Known for beats that have that West Coast sound but also a bit of R&B and Soul thrown in, Quik always comes with really smooth beats. Often times his beats contain a lot of synths, in which he has always manages to produce top-notch productions.

    18. Just Blaze

    justblaze.jpg

    Best Work: The Blueprint (2001)

    Blaze blew up in the early 2000s, mainly because of his work on Jay Z's "The Blueprint" LP. His style sort of has a J Dilla influence in there somewhere, but he definitely has his own sound.

    17. Alchemist

    alchemist.jpg

    Best Work: Murda Muzik (1999)

    Alchemist is one of those producers that just wants to make beats all day long. He managed to hook up with Mobb Deep and helped them keep their East Coast gutter sound, as he provided them with many sample-heavy Soul beats that were perfect for them. Originally coached by DJ Muggs, the Alchemist was known for his heavy use of the ASR 10.

    16. Kanye West

    kanye.jpg

    Best Work: College Dropout (2004)

    At first he started out by banging beats on his MPC 2000, then he quietly started selling beats to well known artists. Then it all changed. He quickly rose to fame with his own unique style of beats by sampling popular songs and turning them into gigantic hits.

    15. J Dilla

    jdilla.jpg

    Best Work: Fantastic, Vol. 2 (2000)

    Always known for digging in the crates for hours, J Dilla loved making beats. He would constantly sample obscure songs, and would always be on the lookout for that one special sound to use in his beats. Even when he was laying up in a hospital bed, he got his family and friends to bring him his equipment so he could make beats. How's that for dedication?

    14. Timbaland

    timbaland.jpg

    Best Work: Supa Dupa Fly (1997)

    Timbaland's beats had a big influence on music as a whole. At first it was his work with Ginuwine, Aaliyah, and Missy Elliott that got him lots of attention, but then he started to work with a whole slew of artists because they all wanted his beats, which quickly became the go-to for mainstream Hip Hop, Pop, and R&B.

    13. RZA

    rza.jpg

    Best Work: Liquid Swords (1995)

    The Wu-Tang Clan first jumped on the scene in 1993 with a classic album, courtesy of the RZA's production. But it was two other albums later that really cemented the RZA as one of the best. Raekwon's "Only Built For Cuban Linx" and the GZA's "Liquid Swords" are arguably two of the best albums of all time. With hard-hitting beats surrounded by various movie samples, he managed to create his own unique style which Hip Hop heads ate up.

    12. Large Professor

    largepro.jpg

    Best Work: The LP (1996)

    The East Coast was never the same once Main Source dropped their first LP and introduced us to the Extra P's unique sound. Straight up Hip Hop is what Large Pro is all about, featuring tight drums and sample-filled melodies.

    11. Havoc

    havoc.jpg

    Best Work: The Infamous (1995)

    Shook Ones Pt 2. That's all that really needs to be said, but I will explain a little more anyway. Havoc blew up when him and Prodigy released The Infamous LP back in 1995, and changed the sound of New York. The production on that album was top notch, and it took years for everyone to finally figure out what the sample riff was to Shook Ones since Havoc never revealed his source. As it turns out, it was from Herbie Hancock's "Jessica".



    10. Q-Tip

    qtip.jpg

    Best Work: Midnight Marauders (1993)

    I'm sure there are many people that don't realize how much of an influence Q-Tip has had behind the boards. From producing tracks with A Tribe Called Quest, to providing neck-snapping beats on Mobb Deep's Infamous LP, he's done it all. It's amazing the type of variety that he can produce.

    9. Lord Finesse

    lordfinesse.jpg

    Best Work: The Awakening (1996)

    He's known for his witty and clever rhymes, but Finesse is also really dope with the beats. He's produced countless hits for a number of artists, from underground groups to the Notorious B.I.G. His beats have that certain sound, with in-your-face horns to snare rolls - it's his style.

    8. Prince Paul

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    Best Work: 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)

    Often overlooked for his production, Prince Paul is on the same vibe as Q-Tip, in that he can produce De La Soul's "3 Feet High and Rising", but also produce horror beats with the Gravediggaz. Simply incredible.

    7. Erick Sermon

    ericksermon.jpg

    Best Work: Business As Usual (1990)

    As part of the duo of EPMD, Erick Sermon brought his own style of beats which were heavy on both Funk and Soul. At first his beats were the backdrop for himself and Parrish Smith, then he started making hits for other artists, as well as his own songs.

    6. The Bomb Squad

    bombsquad.jpg

    Best Work: Fear of a Black Planet (1990)

    Composed of Hank and Keith Shocklee, as well as Chuck D, Eric Sadler, Gary G-Wiz, and Paul Shabazz, they were responsible for creating the militant and political sound of Public Enemy. They were known to use dozens of tiny samples from various sources, and use them for just one beat!

    5. Rick Rubin

    rickrubin.jpg

    Best Work: Licensed to Ill (1986)

    You wouldn't think that a white guy with a big, crazy beard would be on this list, but Rick Rubin is one of the most influential Hip Hop producers ever. What really makes him stand out is that he's the co-founder of Def Jam, but also it's his style. He prefers simpler beats, with a stripped-down sound, like that of early Rap music.

    4. Marley Marl

    marleymarl.jpg

    Best Work: Long Live the Kane (1988)

    In the 1980s, Marley Marl was the one to beat. There were other great producers at the time, but it was Marley that took beats to a whole new level, but it also helped that he was working with artists such as Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, LL Cool J, and many more. It's his sound that paved the way for much of the 1990s sound.

    3. Pete Rock

    peterock.jpg

    Best Work: Mecca and the Soul Brother (1992)

    When you think of Hip Hop beats, one of the first names that should pop into your head is that of Pete Rock. Ever since he worked with CL Smooth, his beats got better and better, with "They Reminisce Over You" as one of the best Hip Hop tracks ever. What Pete Rock did with that horn was great, but it's his drums that he's really known for, as they are always tight and on point.

    2. Dr. Dre

    drdre.jpg

    Best Work: The Chronic (1992)

    Easily one of the most influential Hip Hop producers of all time, Dr. Dre went from behind the boards with NWA, to a household name. With the Chronic LPs, he literally changed the sound of Rap music with his G-Funk West Coast sound.

    1. DJ Premier

    djpremier.jpg

    Best Work: Hard To Earn (1994)

    Premo is the man. From banging out hits with Guru as a part of GangStarr, to becoming the go-to producer for a ton of Hip Hop artists, Premier has done it all. After all these years he's still producing beats that bang just as hard as they did 20 years ago, and he doesn't look like he's slowing down one bit.

    Honorable Mention

    Madlib
    His style consists of smooth samples with laid back drums, even when he's trying to make the beat hard. One of the best at what he does, he's worked with tons of artists.

    DJ Muggs
    If you know Cypress Hill, then you know Muggs' work. When their first album dropped, it was "How I Could Just Kill A Man" that put Muggs on the map.

    The 45 King
    With tight drums always backed by a solid bassline, the 45 King is responsible for many hits, from "The 900 Number", to his work with the Flavor Unit, and even as the producer of the chart-smashing "Stan" by Eminem.

    Diamond D
    "Stunts, Blunts, and Hip Hop" is one of those Hip Hop albums that just has that something special in it. It's Diamond D's production that makes it shine, and the fact that he's a member of D.I.T.C. makes him one of the best.

    Buckwild
    He's one of those producers that you don't hear much about, yet he's responsible for so many classic Hip Hop tracks like O.C.'s "Time's Up", to Black Rob's "Whoa!".
     
  2. GET2THAPAPER

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    Nobody put Pimp C. The Dr. Dre of the South? What about Mike Dean? What about Mr. Lee from Rap A Lot? What about T-Mix from Suave House? No Pimp C though?

    Y'all gotta get on them southern producers. Listen to Murder by UGK or Wooodwheel by UGK. Them 2 beats alone kill almost anybody resume. Also listen to Diamonds n Wood or Left it Wet for ya all by UGK
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2016
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  3. Bugsy

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    This list is in an opinion, which may bound to change or some may not agree on, just because our favorites are not on the list, it doesnt mean they are less important than the ones who are on it. music is subjective and we as artists and producers inspire and feed off of each other, we all have a part and helped to what we call hiphop today.
    The list, I believe is comprised of artists that have made it by bringing their own flavour into the mix and is supposed to inspire us.

    On another note, Great list @Fade will be watching Preemo this weekend! Cant wait!
    Peace!
     
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  4. SoberMindedMuzk

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    I was raised in Houston, and I honestly never thought of Pimp C as a producer like that....even though he obviously was. When I think Pimp C, the first thing I think of isn't production. Mike Dean on the other hand.....legendary.
     
  5. Fade

    Fade

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    Pimp C was on my original list of 25 but then when I shortened it to 20, I just chose to keep him off. No doubt he did some great tracks, Mike Dean as well, but I was more or less making a list of those that the most influential on a grand scale, not just for the South. I honestly think that if you ask some Hip Hop heads about Pimp C or Mike Dean, they may not even know who you're talking about.

    There's plenty of other guys too, like John Bido and Johnny C who did a lot of the early Geto Boys stuff, plus tons of others from the West Coast like E-A-Ski and DJ Slip.
     
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  6. GET2THAPAPER

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    I feel yall. Im from Tennessee by way of Texas so we gotta remember Slisce-T, DJ Paul n Juicy J, MJg did production on a lot of early albums by ball n g. The reason I said Pimp C is because all the producers before Pimp didnt have the "SOUTH SOUND". Pimp put the 808, organ n hand clap to the south beat. Cats gotta remember Pocket full of Stones was Produced by Pimp and Mike Dean. But good thread I appreciate yalls feedback. U know I gotta ride 4 the $outh. dont get it twisted though cus Im a fan of all production no doubt. Ensayne Wayne, BeatsbythePound, Platinum Souls (WreckshopRecords), Shawty Redd, Organized Noize etc. (even that Miami Bass element!!!)
     
  7. Pug

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    Solid list, can't argue with anyone on that list. I like opinion pieces because it let's me explore shit I normally wouldn't. My list would be different, but I don't care.
     
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  8. Fade

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    @TrakTymeMuzik - shit! You know what? I completely forgot about Oganized Noize! Damn, can't believe I forgot about them. The shit they did was on point and change the sound. You're right, though, the Pimp C sound was his own. Actually, Pocket Full of Stones on the Menace soundtrack was one of my favorite, that shit was dope!
     
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  9. Calamity

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    I commend you for writing "20 of the.." instead of "The 20 best/most definitive/now and forever influential.." like every other website lol. Good read man, Hi-tek and Goodie Mob are 2 of my favorites as well
     
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  10. Calamity

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    Scarface is an underrated producer too a lot of people don't know he did the Mind Playin Tricks on me beat
     
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  11. Phreeze

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    Fade, love the list. I'd also submit Swizz Beatz, El P, and Mannie Fresh as some other good candidates for an honorable mention.
     
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  12. Fade

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    No doubt, there's so many good ones out there.
     
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