Filed under: Face Off,Features,Not Your Average,The Unkut Opinion,Video Clips,Vote Or Die
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Tough question. Made even more difficult by the fact that many rapper’s have made beats for themselves, but aren’t necessarily classed as ‘producers’. KRS-One was credited as having produced most the early BDP records, but he also had DJ Doc and D-Nice helping out with the programming – so does he qualify here? Not really, because otherwise this could take for forever. To keep shit simple, I’m only including dudes who were known for their beats before they rapped or are more widely recognized for their MC status, which excludes people like Schoolly-D, Biz Markie and Lord Finesse.
The driving force behind the Ultramagnetic sound who also assisted Kool Keith in holding down MC duties. Started off strong on Critical Beatdown, but by the time The Four Horsemen dropped he was rapping like a malfunctioning android.
Based on his first album alone, Diamond is a strong contender. Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop showcased a straight-forward and amusing vocal technique, matched with some of the most diverse examples of the crate digging beat science ever. Having introduced Fat Joe to the world and worked on the Fu-Gee’s hugely successful The Score, D proved to be more than an underground sensation, but his later solo work has lacked that spark that made his earlier work so timeless.
As the musical backbone of Mobb Deep, Havoc provided lyrical support for lead MC Prodigy during their ‘classic period’, and helped define the Queensbridge sound in the mid-90′s with his brand of anti-social, bleak beats. Recent solo projects have been far from inspiring though.
Before he was producing Jay-Z millionaire rap, No ID put Common on the map and released Accept Your Own & Be Yourself (The Black Album), which was a refreshingly heartfelt example of the Chi-Town sound that proved to be a pre-cursor to the blueprint that his student Kanye West would later work from.
When he’s not acting like a massive douchebag, ‘Ye has been known to bang out a quality beat or two. His lyrical technique on his early work was pretty painful, but if you’re a fan of how he puts it down you might say that he’s improved a lot over time. He’s also become more of a ass-hat.
During his time with The Lootpack, Madlib The Bad Kid wasted some great music with the shitty raps that he and Wildchild unleashed. The first Quasimoto project was out there enough for his raps to work in the context of the record, but I can’t really rate him too highly in the regular rapper dude stakes.
Zone has great taste in ignorant rap and the uncanny ability to make dope beats out of French accordion samples. His rhymes are usually good for a laugh, but as with most comedy records it’s only really funny the first couple of listens.
Jay Dee aka J-Dilla
According to ?uestlove, Dilla is the greatest producer-on-the-mic of all time. I’m not sure if I want to take his word for it though, since for ever good move he’s made (getting Sasha Grey to star in a video for The Roots) he then counters it by getting the guy from Fall-Out Boy to sing on the same track. But back to James Yancey – as influential as he was behind the boards, I’m not sure if many would consider that his rapping was of quite the same pedigree.
Much like Jay Dee before him, Black Milk is far more accomplished as a beat creator than as a rapper. While he gets by on the mic, it’s a mere distraction to the superior sounds he pieces together in the lab.
Sorry, but Dre’s rapping has never been good. He was crappy on Niggaz4Life and it was only thanks to D.O.C. that he was half-decent on The Chronic. Nevertheless, he was a producer-on-the-mic pioneer, and for that he deserves a mention.
Technically he qualifies, but who’s gonna vote for him? That being said, ‘The Benjamins’ beat >>>>>>.
Pharrell aka Skateboard P
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