DAR Hip Hop: The Greatest Hip Hop Producers Of All Time

By @TrueGodImmortal 

In hip hop, there are a ton of producers. From the 80s where the bass and drum combination ruled the land to the 808s that fueled the southern hip hop wave, producers have been nearly the most vital part of the music. I mean, without the producer, what do you have? Lyrics are amazing, but the way the lyrics lay over the production just makes it so much stronger and better. Today, I wanted to look at some of the greatest producers in hip hop and why they are the cream of the crop. Let's get into it.

*Mannie Fresh 
(Notable Productions: B.G.'s  Bling Bling, Juvenile's Back That Azz Up, etc)

-The New Orleans producer that helped cultivate the entire hip hip game alongside Cash Money Records is undoubtedly one of the greatest hip hop producers ever. His work on various projects from Juvenile, B.G., Lil Wayne, Turk, his own duo Big Tymers and the first huge single from Young Jeezy have made Mannie one of the legendary beat makers in the game over the years. When speaking New Orleans and Southern music in general, Fresh has to be mentioned. Hands down.

*Organized Noize 
(Notable Productions: TLC's Waterfalls, Outkast's So Fresh, So Clean)

-The Dungeon Family is the creation of this production trio, and Rico, Ray, and Pat (aka Sleepy Brown) make up the greatest production team from the south. The Atlanta natives provided the soundtrack for the southern movement from their work on the first few Outkast albums to the Goodie Mob work they did along with their contributions to R&B groups TLC and Mista. Organized Noize remains a force and certainly should be recognized as one of the all time greats.

*The Neptunes 
(Notable Productions: Jay-Z's Excuse Me Miss, Jadakiss' Knock Yourself Out, Clipse's  Grindin, etc)

-Pharrell and Chad were an amazing production duo, one of the greatest that I've ever witnessed to be honest. The melodies they put together via the keyboards they used were truly out of this world and they would create classics for a ton of artists like the legendary Jay-Z, Mystikal, Jadakiss, their own group The Clipse and many, many more. The Neptunes are certainly legendary in hip hop and every genre for that matter.

*Kanye West 
(Notable Productions: Jay-Z's Heart Of The City, Common's The Food, etc)

-The most controversial name on this list is easily one of the best producers of our time in the genre. With the ability to showcase his versatility going from the soulful chipmunk samples and knocking drums to the more spaced out orchestral production style he uses now, Kanye has crafted classics not only for himself, but for Common, John Legend, and many, many more. The history books should certainly classify Kanye as one of the all time greatest producers.

*Dr. Dre
(Notable Productions: The Next Episode, Let Me Ride, Snoop Dogg's Lay Low)

-I think Dre is a bit overrated as a producer personally, but who could deny his legacy over a 30 plus year career? From the NWA days to the Death Row days to the Shady/Aftermath era, Dre has always been one of the most relevant producers in the game and also one of the most respected names period in hip hop production. From his ability to create zany yet knocking beats for Eminem to his work with Snoop, Kendrick, 50, Game and others, Dre has been solidified as a legend in the game with no question.

(Notable Productions: Wu-Tang Clan's Heaterz, Raekwon's Ice Cream, etc)

-There aren't many producers as groundbreaking and smart as RZA in their style. With heavy drums, heavy bass, and a ton of various samples, RZA would shape the entire make up of the amazing Wu-Tang run. Adding in the Kung Fu inspired samples or the Mafia style inspired samples along with an eery feel behind all of his beats, RZA made the solo albums from the Wu members, as well as the classics from the group something special.

*Pete Rock 
(Notable Productions: T.R.O.Y., Nas' The World Is Yours, etc)

-One of the greatest producers of all time, Pete Rock is one of the few who infused jazz sounds perfectly into his production, something that inspires me to this very day. His work over the decades is under appreciated, but now he's making headlines calling out the terribleness of hip hop artists of today. While he may be old and washed up to those not in the know, Pete is a hip hop legend. Simple.

*Just Blaze 
(Notable Productions: Jay-Z's U Don't Know, Freeway's What We Do, etc)

-One of the best producers of the 2000s, Just was the go to guy for the Roc alongside Kanye. He would produce so many classics for Jay, some for Beanie, some for Bleek, some for Freeway, and also provided the Young Gunz with a banger. My favorite productions from him would be his work on Game's  2nd album and his work on Jay's The Black Album. Those are my go to sounds for Just Blaze. His output isn't as prevalent now, but his legacy is solidified.

*The Alchemist 
(Notable Productions: Mobb Deep's The Realest, Prodigy's Rotten Apple, etc)

-Another legendary name who made classics for some greats like Kool G Rap, Mobb Deep, 50 Cent, and more, this is a top tier producer from the West Coast also. Alchemist is able to keep the speakers bumping with that high energy sample flow or mellow it out with a track to spit your soul over. It's what makes him one of the best to ever do it.

(Notable Productions: Mobb Deep's Survival Of The Fittest, 50 Cent's Fully Loaded Clip, etc)

-Fitting that right after Alchemist, we have this man listed. Havoc is slept on in a way, since he's known more as the other half of Mobb Deep and a rapper rather than just an amazing producer. Havoc is a solid rapper, but his dark moody production style is certainly an inspiration for many other producers who came in the game. He's without a doubt one of the best.

*No I.D. 
(Notable Productions: Common's Invocation, Jay-Z's Success, etc)

-This Chicago native came to fame via the work he did with Common and they still maintain a relationship working wise today. His production style is almost like Chicago boom bap, as his drums are knocking and straightforward and his soul samples ring a little bit more with the dusty, vinyl feel, giving it a classic sound. I can appreciate the longevity and greatness from No I.D. as he is without a doubt a legend in the game.

*9th Wonder 
(Notable Productions: Little Brother's Lovin' It, Jay-Z's Threat, etc)

-Soul samples and booming drums. This sounds simple in hip hop and it is, but 9th Wonder executes it to the highest power. With his work for Little Brother, he became my favorite producer during the era they reigned supreme, and he is the creator of my all time favorite instrumental, Shorty's Reprise, from the Little Brother album The Listening. For that alone, 9th would make it on my list, but his work for Jay, Phonte, Murs, Big KRIT, and many more also earn him this spot.

*DJ Quik 
(Notable Productions: 2Pac's Heartz Of Men, Snoop Dogg's Don't Tell, etc)

-My personal 2nd favorite West Coast producer. Quik is super underrated and over the years as both a rapper and producer, his genius has shown. With production credits for many legends including 2Pac, Snoop, and a plethora of classic beats in his own personal catalog, Quik is without a doubt one of the greatest, as the quality of his production brings us that true to life West Coast flavor.

*Large Professor 
(Notable Productions: Nas' You're Da Man, Nas' Stay Chiseled, etc)

-One of the most slept on producers ever is Large Professor. His old school mentality yet still amazing sound makes him such a pleasure to listen to from a production standpoint. His strongest work remains with Nas, who is the main source (see what I did there.... I'll see myself out) of the classic productions that Large P  brought us. The boom bap cinematic feel that he provided should never be slept on.

(Notable Productions: Erykah Badu's The Healer, Freddie Gibbs' Pinata, etc)

-The greatest producer from the West Coast and I don't even think it's close. Madlib would create a ton of indie classics, and lend his production talent to a few mainstream names as well, but the way he chops and structures samples is beautiful. I tend to have an issue or two with his drum choice from time to time, but 98% of the time, Madlib can do absolutely no wrong. He is one of my top 5 producers of all time, not based on name value, but on catalog and production quality.

(Notable Productions: Jay-Z's Big Pimpin, The LOX's Ryde or Die Bitch, etc)

-I don't even know where to start with Tim, but what I will say is this: he's helped create a sound that many didn't expect to become prevalent and relevant in hip hop. The style of production he exhibits is worldly and aggressive, providing a commercial touch to even the most hip hop centered rappers, as evidenced on Tim working with some of the best to ever do it like Jay, Nas, Jadakiss, etc. His contributions to pop and R&B might slightly be bigger, but his hip hop successes can never be overlooked.

*DJ Premier
(Notable Productions: Jay-Z's D'evils, Nas' NY State of Mind, etc)

-Premo is essentially the quintessential hip hop producer. His boom bap drums and samples with scratches to accompany them are truly vital to hip hop and the culture, and through his work with Gangstarr, Freddie Foxxx, Jay, Nas, and just about every other hip hop heavyweight, there was no way that you could deny the legend that is DJ Premier.

*J. Dilla/Jay Dee
(Notable Productions: The Pharcyde's Runnin', Common's The Light, etc)

-Probably my all time favorite producer in the history of the game, Dilla was special. He wasn't the most known or the highest paid, but he was the most creative in many ways. The way he sampled. His vision for the song, his production style, the way he structured his beats, Dilla is essentially the best producer ever. His mainstream legacy isn't like a Dre or even a Premo, but his catalog is without a doubt something that is untouchable. I don't think there is any other producer in the world that trumps Dilla. He is the ultimate. RIP.

There were many other producers who missed this list, but they are certainly legends in the game. For the names you don't see on this list, just imagine how tough it was to leave those off. Regardless, these producers featured here are the greatest to ever do it and hopefully as time goes by, more and more names will make it onto this list.



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