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DAR Hip Hop: The 40 Greatest Rapper/Producer Combinations

By @TrueGodImmortal






In hip hop, there are often times when we are gifted with combinations that just fit well. Whether it is a duo of rappers that complement each well, or a group of artists that just mesh perfectly, great combinations are without a doubt a special thing in the genre. Today, I wanted to take a look at the best rapper and producer combinations. Rappers use many producers on albums for the most part, but there are those producers with whom they have the best chemistry with. Through their musical meshing and ability to bring to life what each other wants, they become legendary together and sometimes synonymous with each other. Those are the combinations we will be looking at today. Let's get into it.

*Jay-Z/Just Blaze 



-When these two first worked together, I was unaware of how legendary this tandem would be. Just Blaze was the producer engine that seemingly fueled the next chapter of Roc-A-Fella, and Jay was of course the lead artist on the label. Together, they made legendary songs like "PSA", "Girls, Girls, Girls", "U Don't Know", "Song Cry", and many others over the course of the last 18 years they've worked together. This is one of my personal favorite combinations.

*Juvenile/Mannie Fresh 



-There really aren't many combinations better than Juve and Fresh. After their first time working together on Juve's 2nd album Solja Rags, their chemistry was born and the rest is history. Fresh did all of the production on 4 albums for Juve on Cash Money, and contributed to 3 more albums after that. With their work together on 400 Degreez, Tha G-Code, and even the Hot Boys albums, Juve and Fresh are a legendary combo.

*Missy Elliott/Timbaland 



-Who could deny the Virginia duo that blessed us with so many legendary tracks over the years? In addition to Missy being a talented rapper and songwriter, Timbaland was one of the most innovative producers in the game and for multiple albums, they created some of the biggest songs of both of their careers. Their greatest work is still Missy's debut Supa Dupa Fly, but they've got so much work under their belt together that the catalog is endless and legendary without question.

*Common/No I.D.



-Sure, Common and other producers have amazing chemistry, but his work with No I.D. brought him into the game. One could say he made great music with J. Dilla and Kanye, which he did, but working with No I.D. got him into the game and to stardom. Producing the bulk of thr Can I Borrow A Dollar, Resurrection, One Day It'll All Make Sense, The Dreamer/The Believer, and Nobody's Smiling albums, there's no other producer that has provided Common with as much as No I.D. has.

*Pete Rock/CL Smooth 



-One of the most legendary duos of all time have to make this list. Though many sleep on the lyrics and style of CL Smooth, he was one of the best to ever rap over Pete Rock's production. Together, they craft classic albums like Mecca And The Soul Brother, as well as The Main Ingredient, and they made sure to write their names in the history books of hip hop as a legendary duo and combination.

*Eminem/Dr. Dre



-The truth is, I think Eminem is at his best over a Dr. Dre production. It allows Em to not focus on producing but instead but more energy into rhyming, which is valuable for an artist like him. Eminem utilized Dre's production on every album, but he utilized it the best on albums like The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP, both of which came at the height of his popularity. Without Dr. Dre, Eminem wouldn't have the career he has had, and Dr. Dre wouldn't be as relevant today (currently) as he is without his eye for talent and work with Eminem.

*Blu/Exile 



-I debated about putting these two on here, but this is my list and I feel like they deserve it. They crafted one of the best debut albums of the 2000s for hip hop, if not the best, and they followed that up with an extremely well put together project (though not as good as the first of course). The quality of work they made together via Below The Heavens is more than enough to earn them a spot on the list, and I only wish we had more music from these two together. Blu is one of the most underrated MCs ever and Exile is an extremely underrated producer, and they deserve to make this list.

*DMX/Swizz Beatz 



-I was a huge fan of X in his heyday, and I think he worked well with Swizz for the era they were in. Truth be told, on those earlier albums, I was more partial to the Dame Grease tracks because Swizz did minimal work on his debut, but I've come to appreciate the work Swizz put in on the sophomore album much more now. Through the last 20 years, X and Swizz have worked together often, creating a legacy through the years. 

*Phonte/9th Wonder 



-Let's be honest: Phonte is a legendary MC. He's top 5 to me and he deserves more accolades, but the truth is, if I had to choose one producer to hear him rap over their production, it's a no brainer to choose 9th (sorry Nicolay). From the work he contributed to the first two Little Brother albums (The Listening and The Minstrel Show) all the way to the work on Phonte's solo debut Charity Starts At Home, 9th Wonder's best work came with Phonte rapping over his amazing production.

*The Clipse/The Neptunes 



-Pharrell and Chad have had great chemistry with many artists, but the reality is, they've got some untouchable chemistry with Pusha T and Malice (No Malice now). Starting with the unreleased Exclusive Audio Footage to the official Clipse debut Lord Willin and of course their superb sophomore album Hell Hath No Fury, The Clipse and Neptunes proved they could be an unbeatable tandem together.

*Nas/DJ Premier 



-Early on in the career of Nas, he made sure to showcase his chemistry with DJ Premier on every single album. From Illmatic to It Was Written, all the way up until Stillmatic, Nas and Premo crafted so many classics. Whether it was "I Gave You Power", "NY State Of Mind", "Nas Is Like", or "2nd Childhood", these two never once disappointed on a track. They owe us that collab album they promised in 2005.

*Jay-Z/Timbaland 



-I wanted to go with a different choice, but these two just kept creeping onto my list with ease. Since 1998, one of the most frequent collaborators with Jay has been the man he once referred to as "Timbo The King". From the iconic "Nigga What, Nigga Who" to "Big Pimpin" to "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" to a majority of MCHG, these two have some legendary chemistry together that can't be denied.

*Prodigy/The Alchemist 



-As Mobb Deep decided to work with other producers, they would find their gem in Alchemist. With booming drums and soulful samples, Alchemist gave the Mobb some great music to make classics with, the best work they made together came on the Prodigy solo projects or the Alchemist and Prodigy collab albums like Albert Einstein and Return Of The Mac. Prodigy was one of the greatest rappers ever and his greatest production partner is a toss up between his longtime rhyme partner and Alchemist, which definitely earns P and ALC a spot on the list.

*Freddie Gibbs/Madlib 



-I can admit, I'm far from a huge fan of Gibbs, but the reality is, he utilized production from Madlib better than anyone else. Their work together fits seamlessly, and Madlib is the true star of this combo, as he's one of the greatest producers ever. Their work together on PĂ­nata is still amazing to revisit time and time again and I know many are waiting for their next piece of work together. 

*Jay-Z/The Neptunes 



-Yes, Jay-Z is on this list multiple times. For good reason. The fact remains, there are a select few producers who Jay has maintained a working relationship with over the years and created something special with. His most popular collaborator mainstream wise might be The Neptunes. The duo of Pharrell and Chad worked together to make something special for Jay every time plus Pharrell and Jay have an undeniable chemistry. From "Excuse Me Miss" to "Allure" to "So Ambitious", and many more collaborations, it's clear Jay and The Neptunes together were nearly flawless.

*Nas/Large Professor 



-I actually think the best producer that Nas has ever worked with is Large Professor. There's something about their collaborations together that are perfect in every way. Though they didn't work together as extensively as some of the other producers Nas worked with (Salaam Remi, L.E.S.), I feel like Large Pro and Nas made better music together at sporadic times. Every Nas and Large Pro track is a classic, whether the flawless "You're Da Man", the iconic "Rewind", the classics "Halftime", "One Time 4 Ya Mind", and "It Ain't Hard To Tell", or the underrated "Stay Chiseled", these two just have never missed on tracks together.

*DMX/Dame Grease 



-This is the greatest producer that DMX has worked with. Period. X has done collaborations with many, but there's none quite as important as Dame Grease. Dame gave X some of the best work of his career on his debut, and on later albums, but these two make the list strictly off the legendary production and tracks that Dame Grease gave X on the landmark debut, It's Dark And Hell Is Hot.

*Drake/40



-So, I know. Drake isn't necessarily a rapper alone, but he still has some amazing chemistry with producers, and for the most part, he keeps everything in house. I would have chosen Boi-1da over 40 if this list came a few years ago, but 40 and Drake together has produced some of the greatest music in his career. Whether we're talking tracks like "Marvin's Room" or "Over My Dead Body" during the Take Care era, or "Tuscan Leather" and "From Time" from the NWTS era, or the best song from IYRTITL IMO, "Jungle", Drake and 40 have such an extensive list of great tracks together.

*Kendrick Lamar/Sounwave 



-If I put Drake on this list with 40, it's only right to put Kendrick and his most infamous producer on the list as well. From the start, Kendrick has showcased that he works best next to Sounwave. From their work together on earlier projects like The Kendrick Lamar EP to Overly Dedicated, along with their epic work on Section.80, GKMC, To Pimp A Butterfly, and DAMN, there is literally no other producer who can provide the soulful, jazzy, and funky elements of music that fits Kendrick style quite like Sounwave.

*Jay-Z/Kanye West 



-Of course, Jay and Kanye have to be on this list. It's only right. Despite their mini feud now, together they were unstoppable when Jay was over great Kanye production. After Kanye supplied Jay with "This Can't Be Life", the duo would end up making more and more classics like "Never Change", "Takeover", "Some People Hate", "Lucifer", "Thank You", "03 Bonnie and Clyde", and many more. It's a shame we might not hear these two work together again, but their legacy as a top tier rapper/producer combo is solidified.

*Snoop Dogg/Dr. Dre



-Now, this is one that I had to feature. Snoop and The Neptunes are another great combination, but the original combo for Snoop is with Dre. When Snoop wants that West Coast sound, Dre is always there to supply it. Producing the classic debut of Snoop entirely, Dre gave him nothing but classics on Doggystyle. Over the years, they worked together periodically, on albums like No Limit Top Dogg, Tha Last Meal, 2001, and more. Together, they were a force to be reckoned with.

*Common/J-Dilla 



-It was an easy choice to put this combo on the list for a few reasons. One, their work together on both Like Water For Chocolate and Electric Circus were amazing. Add that to the fact that Common made sure to keep the Dilla name alive, using his production on some later albums showcases their chemistry together long after the unfortunate passing of Jay Dee. I think Like For Water Chocolate is the best example of these two together and I honestly think it's one of the best Common albums without question.

*2Pac/Johnny J



-When we talk about Pac, many of us don't think about a single producer that really gave him classics, but Johnny J is the one. I almost thought of Daz as a better option, but from the Thug Life album to Me Against The World to the iconic work they made together on All Eyez On Me, there aren't many producers that could supply Pac with what he needed quite like Johnny J. It's a shame we never got a full album of these two together because I'm sure it could have been a classic. 

*T.I./DJ Toomp



-Is this the greatest rapper and producer combo to come from Atlanta? That's definitely debatable on all levels, but Tip has no better producer that he's built chemistry up with then Toomp. Over the years, Tip and Toomp created many classics, all of which were featured on his albums like I'm Serious, Trap Muzik, Urban Legend, and King, all of which stand as some of the best music that Tip has created in his career. Toomp definitely gave Tip a number of classics and hits over this career.

*Rakim/Eric B.



-I don't even need to explain this one I'm sure. Eric B. was the one supplying the beats and Rakim provided some of the greatest lyrics ever. Together, they were an undeniable force with both men doing their part better than anyone in the game at the time. My two favorite projects that they released together have to be Paid In Full and Follow The Leader, both classics that solidified this duo as legends.

*Talib Kweli/Hi-Tek 



-Reflection Eternal deserves more credit for being such an amazing duo. The truth is, there aren't many producers who can fit the vision of what Kweli needs to make his work like Hi-Tek. Over the years, despite Kweli working with other producers, his best work comes with Tek. From their debut duo album Train Of Thought to the work Tek contributed to the Kweli solo albums, these two fit together perfectly.

*Prodigy/Havoc 



-This was tough for me to chose because they are basically a rap duo and Havoc made a majority of the beats AND rapped, but Prodigy over a Havoc beat in his prime was flawless. Through every Mobb Deep album and even some of his solo work, Prodigy would coast over the Havoc production with ease and we got many classics through the Infamous, Hell on Earth, and Murda Muzik era.

*Snoop Dogg/The Neptunes



-Snoop was on top of the world while working with Dr. Dre and when that relationship soured a bit (at least collab wise), he seemed lost. He needed a resurgence and a producer that could craft hits for him... enter The Neptunes. From 2002 on, The Neptunes became the go to producer for Snoop and they gave him hits like "Beautiful", "Let's Get Blown", "Drop It Like It's Hot", and many more. Snoop and Pharrell (The Neptunes really) is a flawless combination that have rarely missed in nearly 16 years.

*Gucci Mane/Zaytoven 



-If I had to pick a combo of artist and producer in this new wave that makes solid music together, I have to name Zay and Gucci. Through all the albums, mixtapes, and songs, there is no other producer that can give Gucci the sound he needs. With such a long history of mixtapes and albums, Gucci should have multiple producers that he has impeccable chemistry with, but to me, these two fit perfectly with each other musically. It's impossible to even mention every single classic they've made together, but the list is extensive.

*The Notorious B.I.G./Easy Mo Bee 



-After much debating and deliberating, Biggie makes the list with one of the best producers he's worked who is extremely slept on. Easy Mo Bee supplied a majority of the best songs on Ready To Die, and two of my favorite songs on Life After Death. I honestly believe that Biggie had great chemistry with every producer he worked with, but anytime he rapped over an Easy Mo Bee track, it was magic.

*Guru/DJ Premier 



-Of course, we have to include Gangstarr on the list. There's no way to talk the best combinations and not mention this iconic duo. Throughout the years, Premo would supply Guru with some amazing beats that he would spit his greatest verses over. Through every Gangstarr album, these two proved they had top notch chemistry together.

*The Fresh Prince/DJ Jazzy Jeff



-I debated this spot a lot because there are so many combos that could make the list, but there needs to be some respect given to this legendary duo. Over the late 80s and early 90s, there weren't many better than these two. From the classic albums like He's The DJ, I'm The Rapper to Rock The House and more, whenever the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jazz worked together to create something magical, it always worked.

*KRS-One/Scott La Rock



-Boogie Down Productions is iconic. Without question. Scott La Rock was behind the boards and KRS was behind the mic, and together they seemed to have a goal in mind. Before the unfortunate death of Scott, these two made one of the greatest albums ever in Criminal Minded, and it's a shame that we never got to hear more. As a result of their classic debut, these two make the list because I feel they would have made many classics over the years.

*Lil Wayne/Mannie Fresh



-Wayne has had some amazing producers in his career that he has worked with, but much like Juve, no one gives him their best work like Fresh. They collaborated on the Hot Boys albums, Tha Block Is Hot, Lights Out, 500 Degreez, and my favorite Wayne album Tha Carter, but they've yet to officially work together on another official album since. Still, the earlier part of Wayne's career saw Fresh help to shape his direction as an artist and Wayne was without a doubt a beast over the Mannie Fresh productions.

*Redman/Erick Sermon 



-There aren't many artists that can accurately fulfill the ideas that Redman might want. Wkth that being said, Erick Sermon, an underrated producer, needs much more credit for supplying Redman with consistently solid production over the years. On the majority of his albums, Erick Sermon handled production throughout, showing his prowess as a producer while Red would coast over his beats. From 1992 to 2009, you could always hear an Erick Sermon beat on a Redman product, but for some reason, that changed shortly after. Hopefully Erick Sermon comes back for the next Red album.

*Twista/The Legendary Traxstar 



-If there was ever a combo that didn't get the credit they deserved, it was this one. Twista is slept on as is, but the fact remains, during his prime, the best producer by his side was the Legendary Traxstar. These two could make the list just off of Traxstar producing the classic album Adrenaline Rush, a project that showcased what both men do best. They've gone through periods where they don't work together, but because of their musical chemistry, they always found their way back to each other, which is why they make this list.

*50 Cent/Dr. Dre



-I had to include 50 on this list, but picking the producer he works with the best is very tough. After reviewing some of his albums, it's clear 50 sounds best over "Dre drums", as he said himself. On the first official album from 50, Dre gave him his biggest hit with "In Da Club", a street banger in "Heat", a classic diss track in "Back Down", and a solid anthem on "If I Can't". Dre would provide more songs on future albums for 50, supplying him with solid tracks of course, but the music they made together on the first album was legendary enough to get them on this list together by itself.

*Common/Kanye West 



-I didn't want to put these two on the list, because their work together was limited to two albums, but the reality is, those two albums revived the career of Common in a way that couldn't have seemed possible at first. With Kanye producing a majority of what many consider to be Common's best album in BE, and then producing a majority of the follow up to that titled Finding Forever, it seems that many of us loved everything Common and Kanye made together, showing that their Chicago connection was a match made in heaven.

*Outkast/Organized Noize 



-I am of the belief that the greatest duo of all time is Outkast. The most underrated production team ever to me remains Organized Noize. Together, over the years, they created some amazing music on the Outkast debut SPCM, ATLiens, Aquemini, and Stankonia. The fact is, despite Kast producing a lot of their own music, every time they went in with Organized Noize, they came out with a classic. If only we could get another Kast album with Organized Noize producing, it would be amazing.

*Wu-Tang Clan/RZA 



-The Wu made some great albums together and solo wise, and the man behind all of those was none other than RZA. While Mathematics was responsible for a number of classic tracks later on in the Wu legacy, during their prime, RZA was behind the boards for these legendary albums. 36 Chambers, Ironman, Tical, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, and so many more were the result of the legendary production from RZA, and that makes them a huge combination in hip hop, perhaps the greatest combination in history.


-True

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