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Hip-hop is a genre that has been shaped and molded by an endless variety of innovative hip-hop producers, each with its own unique style, history, and flavor. Often shadowed by the more flashy MCs and singers on the front page of album covers and on stage, the rightful recognition of the hip-hop producer and its importance has grown exponentially over the years. And as technology is becoming increasingly important in the music industry, hip-hop producers have more and more tools to create their beats.

How can we possibly narrow down the best hip-hop producers who have left an indelible mark on the culture? It's an onerous and ongoing debate with no clear-cut answer.

What makes a great hip-hop producer? Is it their ability to consistently deliver hit after hit? Their influence on other producers? Their impact on the hip-hop genre as a whole? The criteria are endless.

Still, it's a necessary conversation as it is essential to acknowledge the figures who often work behind the scenes of our favorite artists.

From the genre's inception to its current state, we've seen an evolution of the hip-hop sound that can be attributed to the creativity and innovation of these hip-hop producers. Relentlessly working in the studio and mastering the multitudes of arts surrounding this role, their work focuses on capturing the essence of an artist through their creative direction and elevating and refining the artist's talents.

Great producers are musicians, coaches, archeologists of old sounds, and interpreters of new ones. They are visionaries. They are the makers of songs that become the background music of our memories. Whether bumping our heads in the car while driving with our friends, getting down on the dancefloor, or vibing with our headphones-on to some hard-hitting drums or soulful samples, transporting us to new places.

So let the talks begin. In this article, which we will frequently update to adjust to the hip-hop landscape, we dive into the discussion and explore some of the most influential and game-changing hip-hop producers of all time.

Culling from the hip-hop world, here are the hip-hop producers you definitely need to know:

Nujabes

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Let’s start off with a curveball. Since so much of this article will cover American hip-hop producers, I want to begin by showing how impactful the genre has been worldwide.

Globally, Japan undoubtedly enjoys a prolific and high-quality scene. Among the stars of Japanese hip-hop shines the legend of Nujabes. A talented producer, his use of jazz, nostalgic soul, and funk music, along with soothing piano sounds, has made him a master in the art of beat-making. Producer of the intro song to the underground anime "Samurai Champloo," he inspired, along with J-Dilla, the creation of the "Lo-Fi Hip-Hop" subgenre.

He died following a car accident in 2010. Still, his legacy is now stronger than ever before, as even in death, he remains unequivocally, one of the most influential and brilliant hip-hop producers of all time.

Best Nujabes productions:

1. "Feather"

2. "Aruarian Dance"

3. "Reflection Eternal"

4. "Luv(sic) Pt 2" feat. Shing02

5. "Modal Soul" feat. Uyama Hiroto

6. "Counting Stars"

7. "Lady Brown" feat. Cise Starr

8. "World's End Rhapsody"

9. "Mystline"

10. "The Sign" feat. Pase Rock

Rick Rubin

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Almost a mythical figure when it comes to the sound of modern hip-hop, Rick Rubin has been, still is, and forever will be, one of the most multifaceted producers around. Throughout his career, he has worked on the production of numerous albums by the likes of AC/DC, Slayer, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash, Linkin Park, Rage Against The Machine, Shakira, and in recent years even Black Sabbath, and Eminem. The complete list would be far too long. 

In the early 1980s, together with Russell Simmons, he founded Def Jam, a record company historically linked to rap and hip-hop. Remember when in the early 2000s, seemingly every popular song was a crossover between rock and rap? You have to thank or loathe (depending on your taste) Mr. Rubin for it. 

Best Rick Rubin productions:

1. "Walk This Way" by Run-DMC featuring Aerosmith

2. "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" by Public Enemy

3. "Raising Hell" by Run-DMC

4. "The Black Album" by Jay-Z

5. "Death Certificate" by Ice Cube

6. "Illmatic" by Nas

7. "The Blueprint" by Jay-Z

8. "Tougher Than Leather" by Run-DMC

9. "Criminal Minded" by Boogie Down Productions

10. "The Chronic" by Dr. Dre

Metro Boomin

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Another hip-hop producer you should know is Metro Boomin. He has been making so much noise that he is pushing the boundaries and going against the under-appreciated label we often have to give to hip-hop producers. 

Thanks to his minimal, hypnotic productions with dark atmospheres, Leland Tyler Wayne aka Metro Boomin is currently one of the scene's benchmark producers and boasts collaborations with Future, Drake, 21 Savage, Gucci Mane, the Migos, Lil Uzi Vert, The Weeknd, Post Malone, Kodak Black, Kanye West, Travis Scott, and many, many other names, confirming himself as the King of the new generation.

Between 2015-2016 it seemed Metro Boomin’s producer tag was everywhere. Every top rapper was fighting to get some more of Metro’s talent. Since then, he’s continued evolving his sound, moving away from producing trap bangers and creating more diverse music.

Best Metro Boomin productions:

1. "Jumpman" by Drake and Future

2. "Bad and Boujee" by Migos feat. Lil Uzi Vert

3. "Mask Off" by Future

4. "Congratulations" by Post Malone feat. Quavo

5. "X" by 21 Savage feat. Future

6. "Karate Chop" by Future feat. Lil Wayne

7. "Ric Flair Drip" by Offset

8. "No Complaints" by feat. Drake and Offset

9. "Superhero" by Chris Brown, Future, and Metro Boomin

10. "Creepin'"by The Weeknd, 21 Savage and Metro Boomin

Kanye West

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This one requires a little bit of homework. Take away all the headlines, controversial rants, legendary relationships, and interviews. Take all of that away, put your headphones on, and just focus on the music alone. You will hear the sound of one of the most talented, influential, and intriguing musicians of the past two decades.

Kanye West's genius and artistic vision are hard to argue with. His career says so: first as a producer and then establishing himself as a full-fledged star. 

Early in his career, after collaborating on the success of Jay-Z's album The Blueprint, Kanye was considered exclusively as a producer, so much so that Jay-Z himself, with whom Kanye was linked by a record deal on Rock A-Fella Records, was reluctant to give him space as a rapper. Well, we all know how that turned out. 

But before the limelight on his rapping career, let’s not forget that it is thanks to The Blueprint that in 2001, Kanye, along with Just Blaze and Bink, shifted the focus of hip-hop from minimalistic synthesizers to more lush, ’70s soul and warm funk samples, we have all grown so accustomed to. First mastering the art of sampling, Kanye pushed hip-hop to be bigger and more grandiose, incorporating orchestral strings and choirs worthy of the best gospel ceremonies. 

Best Kanye West productions:

1. "Let the Beat Build" by Lil Wayne "The Joy" by Jay-Z  feat. Curtis Mayfield

2. "Ultralight Beam" by Chance the Rapper feat. Kanye West, The-Dream, and Kelly Price

3. "Sanctified" by Rick Ross feat. Big Sean

4. "This Can't Be Life" by Jay-Z feat. Scarface and Beanie Sigel

5. "All Falls Down" by Kanye West feat. Syleena Johnson

6. "Gold Digger" by Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx

7. "Runaway" by Kanye West feat. Pusha T

8. "Otis" by Jay-Z & Kanye West feat. Otis Redding

9. "Heartless" by Kanye West

10. "Jesus Walks" by Kanye West

Madlib

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When I mention the hip-hop producer is often overshadowed by the more dominant MCs figure, Madlib is one of those producers that comes to mind first. The producer your favorite producer looked up to, Madlib, separated himself from the crowd with his incredible chopping and sampling abilities, but somehow, he was still flying under the radar. 

Over the past few years, this trend has changed, especially with contributions to Kanye’s album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and his collaboration albums with Four Tet and Freddie Gibbs.

He has over two decades of a revolutionary, out-of-the-box career playing with the canons of hip hop and jazz, sampling, rapping and bringing a fresh sound that would forever mark the careers of rappers like Mos Def, and MF Doom. His body of work includes 36 official albums and an army of EPs telling of a continuous, tireless, obsessive production.

Best Madlib productions:

1. "Accordion" by Madvillain

2. "Half Manne Half Cocaine" by Freddie Gibbs & Madlib

3. "Auditorium" by Mos Def feat. Slick Rick

4. "All Caps" by Madvillain

5. "Drive-In" by Lootpack

6. "Fake Names" by Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist

7. "The Official" by Jaylib

8. "Slim’s Return" by Quasimoto

9. "No More Parties in LA" by Kanye West feat. Kendrick Lamar

10. "Raid" by Madvillain

Kenny Beats

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Another modern hip-hop producer you should know about is Kenny Beats. Producing entire projects and hundreds of imposing, wildly different beats for critically-acclaimed rappers like Rico Nasty, Vince Staples, Freddie Gibbs, Key!, 03 Greedo, Denzel Curry, Kenny Beats' sound is famous for having distorted basslines, crunchy drums, and unconventional sound effects that create complex, dynamic compositions that stand out from the rest of his peers.

He is also famous for having some pretty cool freestyle studio sessions on Youtube. Worth a watch!

Best Kenny Beats productions:

1. "FUN!" by Vince Staples

2. "Lemon" by N.E.R.D. featuring Rihanna

3. "Rage Against the Dying of the Light" by Run the Jewels

4. "Puff Lah" by JPEGMAFIA

5."Hate Government" by Freddie Gibbs & Madlib

6. "KennyHoopla" - ESTELLA (feat. Travis Barker)

7. "Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thot" by JPEGMAFIA

8. "Surrender Your Soul" by Denzel Curry

9. "Trust" by Slowthai

10. "Ring Ring" by Rico Nasty featuring Kenny Mason

J Dilla

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A list of the best hip hop producers of all time would never be complete without including one name that stands as an elusive yet profoundly influential force - J Dilla. Born James Dewitt Yancey in Detroit, Michigan, in 1974, this enigmatic producer transcended the boundaries of music, leaving an indelible mark on the genre.

Dilla's hip hop journey began early in his life, mastering the drums and piano as a child before diving headfirst into beat-making. His unparalleled ability to blend obscure samples into seamless symphonies set him leagues apart. Dilla didn't just produce; he took what his favorite producers DJ Marley Marl and Pete Rock initiated and took it a step further by stitching together jazz, soul, and funk fragments into flawless compositions.

The heart of Dilla's influence pulsated through his pioneering techniques. He was the virtuoso behind the MPC 3000, transforming the drum machine into a vehicle of endless creativity, and beats. The "Dilla Swing," a rhythmic groove that defied conventional tempo, became his signature. This idiosyncratic groove lent his beats an organic and analog human touch, which became his sonic fingerprint. Far removed from what his fellow producers were doing at the time.

He worked with A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and The Pharcyde, and many others to redefine the very essence of hip-hop production and pioneered the new sound of Lofi hip-hop. His opus "Donuts" remains a testament to his genius, a mosaic of instrumental marvels crafted during his battle with a terminal illness that took him at the age of 32.

Despite his short-lived career, J Dilla ignited a revolution, inspiring a new generation of producers who ventured into uncharted musical realms. His soulful sonic palette and meticulous attention to detail became a blueprint for artists like Kanye West, Madlib, and Flying Lotus, who continue to champion his innovative spirit. Even today, Dilla's ethereal presence looms large over hip-hop. His influence reverberates through every crack and crevice of the genre, and the loyal Lofi community constantyl pays homage to him in the best way they can - creating mellow soundscapes aimed at enjoying the present, at relaxing and creating the perfect background music for any mindful occasion.

Although he died without reaching the full recognition his talent deserved, J Dilla’s legacy lives on today online, with new young fans all over the world falling in love with his work and the massive community he influences to this day. He is work is far from forgotten in the industry too, as in addition to being shown in production credits, his instruments are displayed in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American history. And it all started with a kid from Detroit who had a crate of records and an MPC3000.

Best J Dilla productions:

1. “Runnin’,” The Pharcyde

2. “Last Donut of the Night,” J Dilla

3. “Stakes Is High,” De La Soul

4. “Fuck the Police,” J Dilla

5. “Got ’Til It’s Gone (Ummah Jay Dee’s Revenge Mix),” Janet Jackson

6. “Drop,” The Pharcyde

7. “Thelonius,” Common featuring Slum Village

8. “Gazzillion Ear,” MF Doom

9. “Reminisce,” Bilal featuring Mos Def and Common

10. “The Light,” Common

Q-Tip

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Q-Tip is one of the founding members of the legendary group A Tribe Called Quest. He worked with artists such as Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, Nas, Mobb Deep, Wale, Roc Marciano. 

Q-Tip symbolizes early hip-hop, and if we have "Jazz Hop," it is also thanks to him. Responsible, among a few others, for the beginning of the use of jazz music in samples, he is also one of the first producers to take the path of experimental beats and the creation of alternative hip-hop styles. Artists like Tyler, The Creator, Kanye West, Questlove, and Outkast have all mentioned the influence of A Tribe Called Quest in their music. 

He almost singlehandedly crafted the first three Tribe albums – People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, The Low End Theory, Midnight Marauders – with his snappy, crisp drums, and aforementioned obscure jazz samples and jaw-rattling basslines, Tip’s production laid the inspirational groundwork for many legendary producers after him, including J Dilla, Pharrell Williams, and Timbaland.

Notable Q-Tip production:

1. "Electric Relaxation"

2. "Check the Rhime"

3. "Can I Kick It?"

4. "Bonita Applebum"

5. "Award Tour"

6. "Stressed Out"

7. "Find a Way"

8. "Gettin' Up"

9. "Vivrant Thing"

10. "Breathe and Stop"

DJ Dahi

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His oeuvre speaks for itself. DJ Dahi's music is not just about hip-hop production but also about creating a sonic experience that translates both in studio versions and live shows. 

By blending elements of electronic, funk, and soul music to make both hard-hitting and intricate beats, he has a versatile sound he can incorporate for the various needs of the artists he works with. His creative use of sound effects and sample chops is a testament to his artistry, as he crafts unforgettable soundscapes that draw audiences in and leave them in awe.

Born Dacoury Natche, a.k.a. “DJ Dahi” first gained recognition in 2012 for his production on Kendrick Lamar's hit song "Money Trees." Well, yes, I guess reversing the intro of Beach House’s "Space Song" and combining it with the lyrical prowess and cadence of one of the best rappers in the game was destined to become a timeless hit. 

Since then, DJ Dahi has gone on to work with a wide range of high-profile artists, including Drake, Jay-Z, Travis Scott, Mac Miller, and SZA. His production on Drake's "Worst Behavior" and Big Sean's "I Don't F*** with You" helped make both tracks major hits. 

In addition to his work in hip-hop, DJ Dahi has also produced music for pop artists like Lorde and Tinashe. He has also worked on film and TV projects, including the soundtrack for the 2018 Marvel film "Black Panther".

Best DJ Dahi productions:

1. "Money Trees" by Kendrick Lamar

2. "No Role Modelz" by J. Cole

3. "XXX." by Kendrick Lamar

4. "I Don’t Fuck with You" by Big Sean

5. "LOYALTY." by Kendrick Lamar ​

6. "a lot" by 21 Savage

7. "Worst Behavior" by Drake

8. "U With Me?" by Drake

9. "90210" by Travis Scott

10. "The Heart Part 4" by Kendrick Lamar

Dr. Dre

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Dr. Dre is the name. Always been ahead of the game. And if not much has changed since he left, it’s because he has been the standard for hip-hop producers worldwide.

As a member and producer of N.W.A., Dre matched the East Coast's Bomb Squad beat for beat and created a chaotic backdrop for the group to vent their frustrations. He also produced The D.O.C.'s No One Can Do It Better, one of the best producer-rapper collaboration albums ever.

In the second phase of his career, Dre formed Death Row Records with Suge Knight and forever changed hip-hop with The Chronic and Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle.

He then founded Aftermath Entertainment and worked with Eminem, producing The Slim Shady LP and 2001, which set the tone for the 2000s with their stripped-down piano melodies and hard-hitting drums.

Later, he embraced Kendrick Lamar and brought him into Aftermath as the new West Coast king, acting as a mentor rather than a producer for his major label debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d City. He produced hit singles for so many artists like Ice Cube, Eve, Busta Rhymes, Mary J. Blige, and Jay-Z that his rightful place in the Olympus of the greatest hip-hop producers of all time is almost an understatement.

We just need a quick look at his discography to see how relevant his productions are, how they last the test of time, and how often we have heard them play on the radio, tv, and in clubs.

What is Dr. Dre doing today? Besides Ranking 3rd among the richest rappers, he remains one of the big names in American rap, with an estimated fortune of more than $400 million. In 2022 he was spotted at the Super Bowl Halftime Show, along with Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige.

Best Dr. Dre productions:

1. “California Love“ by Tupac

2. “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A.

3. “The Next Episode” by Dr. Dre

4. “The Boyz-n-the-Hood” by Eazy-E

5. “Gin & Juice” by Snoop Dogg

6. “Family Affair” by Mary J. Blige

7. “My Name Is” by Eminem

8. “Forgot About Dre” by Dr. Dre

9. “In da Club” by 50 Cent

10. “Still D.R.E.” by Dr. Dre

The Alchemist

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Coming up in the late 90s as one of the early signees of Def Jam Records and producing for the legendary rap-duo Mobb Deep, The Alchemist was destined to impact the hip-hop world from the start. 

However, the most impressive part of Alchemist’s output is his longevity. Beginning in the mid-’90s by touring with Cypress Hill and learning the art of beat-making from DJ Muggs, to shaping the sound and career of Action Bronson, to becoming a Grammy-nominated producer thanks to his work on Freddie Gibbs’ 2020 Alfredo album, Alchemist has conquered production in more eras of hip-hop than most legends. 

With his unique taste in soulful samples, bouncy beats, and hard-hitting drums, The Alchemist is true to his stage name as he can find the most magical and meditative moments in the samples he flips, manipulating older musical pieces into mosaics of new sounds and creating sonic anthems that feel "just right." 

Best of The Alchemist productions:

1. "Keep It Thoro" by Prodigy

2. "The Realest" by 50 Cent

3. "1985" by J. Cole

4. "We Gonna Make It" by Jadakiss ft. Styles P

5. "Fear" by Kendrick Lamar

6. "500 Dollar Ounces" by Freddie Gibbs

6. "Yacht Rock" by Action Bronson ft. Big Body Bes

7. "Scottie Pippens" by Curren$y ft. Freddie Gibbs

8. "Red Dot Music" by Mac Miller ft. Action Bronson

9. "The Neverending Story" by Tyler, The Creator

10. "subzero" by Action Bronson

9th Wonder

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9th Wonder, also known as Patrick Douthit, is a Grammy Award-winning hip-hop producer from North Carolina. He is here for you to know because his sound is distinctively made of a bouncy cadence mixed with nostalgia and freshness, impossible to ignore. Another of those producers who have always flown under the radar, 9th Wonder's ability to blend soulful samples with hard-hitting drums is second to none. 

Fun fact; he teaches the history of hip-hop at the Roc Nation School of Music, Sports & Entertainment, a faculty of Long Island University in Brooklyn. An OG hip-hop producer that knows a thing or two about the genre.

Best 9th Wonder productions:

1. "Threat" by Jay-Z

2. "Ms. Fat Booty" by Mos Def

3. "The Listening" by Little Brother

4. "Lovin' It" by Little Brother feat. Joe Scudda

5. "The Way You Do It" by Little Brother

6. "Tutenkhamen" by Diamond District

7. "Duckworth" by Kendrick Lamar

8. "Nothin' Less" by Rapsody feat. Common and Anderson .Paak

9. "Break the Bank" by ScHoolboy Q

10. "Love Language" by Talib Kweli feat. Hi-Tek

The Neptunes

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In the world of hip-hop production, no other duo has achieved as much with as little as Pharrell and Chad of The Neptunes. Despite their trademark sound being defined by minimalism and the absence of samples, the pair have produced countless hit songs for legendary artists over many years. When "Grindin'" was first released, it caused a sensation and took the world by storm.

The Neptunes - Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, former schoolmates in Virginia Beach - formed in 1992. Launched by producer Teddy Riley, the duo became one of the most sought-after production teams in the United States within a few years. Their first successes come between 1999 and 2001, working with hip-hop greats like Ol' Dirty Bastard and Jay-Z.

In 2003 they released their first album, THE NEPTUNES PRESENT... CLONES quickly topped the sales charts, while their production work outperformed all their competition in the mainstream hip-hop realm. 

The two also have a side project called N.E.R.D., together with singer Sheldon "Shay" Haley, which released the album IN SEARCH OF.... in 2002. 

By 2003 The Neptunes had produced 43% of songs played on US radio. Yes, 43%. Songs with Pharrell's name in 2003 included Jay Z's collaboration "Change Clothes", Timberlake's "I'm Lovin It", Kelis' "Milkshake" and Snoop Dogg's "Beautiful". The Neptunes had certainly made their mark.

Aside from hip-hop, you might have heard "Get Lucky" or "Blurred Lines", with the last one breaking records for being the best-selling single in the UK, the best-selling digital single in the world, and the most downloaded song in the UK chart history. And that was before "Happy". 

But that is another story and would get us away from hip-hop. It's a lot to take in, so check The Neptunes's best songs to get a feel of how grandiose their discography and impact on hip-hop culture has been. 

Best The Neptunes productions:

1. "Rock Your Body" by Justin Timberlake

2. "Beautiful" by Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell and Charlie Wilson

3. "Frontin'" by Pharrell ft. Jay-Z 

4. "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani

5.  "Excuse Me Miss" by Jay-Z 

6. "Like I Love You" by Justin Timberlake

7. "Grindin'" by Clipse 

8. "Hot in Herre" by Nelly 

9. "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)" by Jay-Z

10.  "Drop It Like It's Hot" by Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell

Mannie Fresh

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It's almost disrespectful how much Mannie Fresh's skills as a producer have been overlooked. 

Hailing from the 7th Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana, Mannie Fresh played a crucial role in the success of Cash Money Records, a label that signed the likes of​​ Lil Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj, just to name a few. Numbers don’t lie. He produced all or most of the songs on 17 multi-platinum, platinum, or gold albums for Cash Money from 1998 to 2004, and he was the only in-house producer when the label first began in the early 1990s.

He released his last album, Return of the Ballin, in 2009 and has not been active in the music industry since. However, he recently disclosed that he is selling his entire music catalog to Reservoir Media, a New York City-based company. Although the purchase amount remains undisclosed, we can rest assured that besides being a pioneer for Southern American hip-hop and helping pave the way for other producers for years to come, he will be rewarded for the musical legacy he has left behind. Cash out Fresh!

Best Mannie Fresh productions:

1. "Back That Azz Up" by Juvenile 

2. "Still Fly" by Big Tymers 

3. "Bling Bling" by B.G. 

4. "Go DJ" by Lil Wayne 

5. "Ha" by Juvenile 

6. "I Need a Hot Girl" by Hot Boys 

7. "Get Your Roll On" by Big Tymers 

8. "Tha Block Is Hot" by Lil Wayne 

9. "#1 Stunna" by Big Tymers 

10. "Way of Life" by Lil Wayne, Big Tymers, and TQ

Just Blaze

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Ok, are you ready? Take a deep breath, and read with me.

Just Blaze has produced tracks for The Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, Usher, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, The Game, DMX, T.I., Fat Joe, Rhymefest, Ghostface Killah, MED, Fabolous and Joe Budden. And so many more!

If we now hold Roc-A-Fella Records as one of the top labels in hip-hop, it’s thanks to Just Blaze’s musical genius. Crafting classics after classics with his signature technique of masterfully altering the speed of samples and adding his drum beat, Just Blaze is one of the most beloved figures in hip hop that you need to know about.

When it comes to hard-hitting hip-hop anthems, no producer in history can touch Just Blaze. 

Best Just Blaze productions:

1. "Public Service Announcement" by Jay-Z

2. "Touch the Sky" by Kanye West featuring Lupe Fiasco 

3. "U Don’t Know" by Jay-Z

4. "Oh Boy" by Cam'ron featuring Juelz Santana 

5. "Show Me What You Got" by Jay-Z 

6. "Girls, Girls, Girls" by Jay-Z "Dear Summer" by Jay-Z 

7. "Breath" by Fabolous

8. "Pump It Up" by Joe Budden 

9. "Live Your Life" by T.I. featuring Rihanna

10. "Lord Knows" By Drake

Noah “40” Shebib

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Remember when you were a kid and always asked for the same food you got obsessed with? Or the same dessert that can never get boring for your taste buds? That's the 40 in his career. Once he got chemistry with Drake, he never wanted anything else. But how can we blame him?

The only criticism you can lay against 40 is that he is mainly stuck in his comfort zone, primarily producing for Drake and just a few selected others. But then again, why wouldn't you stick with it when the chemistry is undeniable, and it gave us classics like “Tuscan Leather” and “I’m on One”?

Best Noah "40" Shebib productions:

1. "Marvins Room" by Drake 

2. "Hold On, We're Going Home" by Drake featuring Majid Jordan

3. "Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2" by Drake featuring Jay-Z 

4. "Started From the Bottom" by Drake

5.  "Best I Ever Had" by Drake

6. "The Motion" by Drake featuring Sampha 

7. "Take Care" by Drake featuring Rihanna 

8. "Too Much" by Drake featuring Sampha 

9. "Cameras / Good Ones Go Interlude" by Drake

10. “Actin Crazy” by Action Bronson

RZA

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A legendary figure in U.S. and global hip hop, he is the spiritual father of the entire Wu-Tang brand and producer of, among many other things, the entire Enter The 36th Chamber, the album that established RZA as one of the most critical producers in hip-hop history. Alongside his work as a beatmaker, he occupies an important position rapping, often under the moniker Bobby Digital, and he has recently approached the world of filmmaking.

In the first five years of RZA's career, he showcased his versatility as a producer by experimenting with different sounds and styles. He created neck-snapping breakbeats on Wu-Tang Clan's debut album, hypnotizing dust on Tical, deranged loops on Ol' Dirty Bastard's album, sinister samurai samples on Liquid Swords, orchestral mobster audio-movie on Raekwon's album, '70s blaxploitation funk on Ironman, and eerie chipmunk soul on the group's second album. With each release, RZA managed to hit a new stage and offer a unique sound to listeners.

RZA's journey is a classic rags-to-riches story, which began with him creating beats on his drum machine in the basement and ultimately led him to produce and direct Hollywood movies in multi-million dollar recording studios. Every step of the way, RZA has remained true to his roots throughout his journey, proudly representing Shaolin.

Best RZA productions:

1. "C.R.E.A.M." by Wu-Tang Clan 

2. "Protect Ya Neck" by Wu-Tang Clan 

3. "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" by Ol' Dirty Bastard 

4. "Liquid Swords" by GZA 

5. "Triumph" by Wu-Tang Clan 

6. "Bring Da Ruckus" by Wu-Tang Clan

7. "Incarcerated Scarfaces" by Raekwon 

8. "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" by Wu-Tang Clan

9. "Ice Cream" by Raekwon 

10. "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing ta F' Wit" by Wu-Tang Clan.

Hit-Boy

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Despite being still in his 20s, Hit-Boy has already established himself as a skilled and accomplished producer. He has worked on unique sound bases for some of the biggest names in hip-hop, including Lil Wayne and Eminem on "Drop The World," Kanye West and Jay-Z on "Niggas In Paris" (in addition to engineering duties on "Lift Off"), and Pusha-T on "My God." 

As a signed artist with GOOD Music, Hit-Boy has demonstrated his ability to succeed through natural talent and relentless determination. He is now focused on building his dynasty with his Surf Club crew.

In a recent interview with HipHopDX, Hit-Boy delves into the mystique of "Watch The Throne," explains how a simple MySpace message kickstarted his career and emphasises that working with legends is not enough to achieve greatness.

A word of advice from him for production and the creative process as a whole is to save everything. “I say never abandon any ideas even if you got a four-bar loop or a two-bar loop,” Hit-Boy says in an interview for Output Mag. “Save it and come back to it. A lot of beats I was doing years ago, and I’m still pulling up to this day. No idea is really ever dead unless you kill it.”

Best Hit-Boy productions:

1. "Ni**as in Paris" by Jay-Z and Kanye West 

2. "Backseat Freestyle" by Kendrick Lamar 

3. "Clique" by Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Big Sean 

4. "Trophies" by Drake

5.  "Somewhere in America" by Jay-Z 

6. "N***a's Wit Hats (Isaac Hayes)" by Dom Kennedy

7. "All I Need" by Juicy J ft. K Camp 

8. "Drop the World" by Lil Wayne ft. Eminem 

9. "Goosebumps" by Travis Scott ft. Kendrick Lamar 

10. "Sorry Not Sorry" by Nas ft. Jay-Z.

Swizz Beatz

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Forget any odes to the art of sampling here. Since the historic Biz Markie trial in 1991, in which an N.Y court ruled that sampling without permission by the original copyright owners constitutes copyright infringement, hip-hop producers have moved away from using dense samples in their tracks. Instead, they began learning to create their own music.

From the late '90s to his early '00s, Swizz spearheaded hip-hop production together with The Neptunes and Timbaland, with his trademark thumping drums, synths, and, most importantly, missing samples.

Best Swizz Beatz productions:

1. "Touch It" by Busta Rhymes

2. "Ruff Ryders Anthem" by DMX

3. "Banned From TV" by Noreaga ft Big Pun, Cam’Ron & Nature

4. "Jigga My N*gga" by Ruff Ryders ft Jay-Z

5. "Whuteva" by Remy Ma

6. "Party Up" by DMX

7. "I Can Transform Ya" by Chris Brown ft Lil Wayne

8. "On To The Next One" by Jay-Z 

9. "Spit Your Game" by Notorious B.I.G ft Twista & Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

10. "Tambourine" by Eve

Timbaland

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If the skills of a hip-hop producer were valued by how many times their songs are played in clubs, then Timbaland would almost have no rivals in the industry. 

With his creation of the iconic "stuttering kick-drums template" serving as a defining characteristic of the genre, Timbaland's contributions to American R&B are undeniable. His influence has transcended borders, making waves across the pond in the UK's vibrant garage and rave culture. All the while never missing an opportunity to get the crowds moving. As a result, Timbaland's musical legacy has left an indelible mark on both sides of Atlantica, cementing his status as a truly global musical icon.

Timbaland’s production catalog spans almost three decades and includes countless big names, including Nas, The LOX, LL Cool J, Lloyd Banks, 50 Cent, Redman, just to name a few. But it’s Timbaland’s work with three artists – Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, and Justin Timberlake – where he cemented his legacy as one of the most loved, recognizable and in-demand producers ever.

Best Timbaland productions:

1. "Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake

2.  "SexyBack" by Justin Timberlake 

3. "Promiscuous" by Nelly Furtado ft. Timbaland 

4. "The Way I Are" by Timbaland ft. Keri Hilson and D.O.E.

5. "Say It Right" by Nelly Furtado

6. "Give It to Me" by Timbaland ft. Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake 

7. "Apologize" by OneRepublic ft. Timbaland 

8. "4 Minutes" by Madonna ft. Justin Timberlake and Timbaland 

9. "If We Ever Meet Again" by Timbaland ft. Katy Perry 

10. "Carry Out" by Timbaland ft. Justin Timberlake.

Next up in the world of hip-hop, check out hip-hop's love for denim and jewellery.

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