This is the cousin to my the other post of best Producer-MC combos. The ideas are cut from the same cloth but not identical. I've said before i got tons of respect for the guys that can make dope beats and spit ill rhymes over them. That's like being a player coach taking it back to them Pete Rose days betting on himself. These guys can lay a plan out and execute it the exact way they want it. If you're just an MC you're at the mercy of the producer's beat and if you're a producer more often than not i'm a say more often than not they feel the MC doesn't do the beat justice. But when you can do it all it's like your baby that you seen grow from a loop then along the way a snare was added here maybe some drums are sprinkled there. Then you get to decide the words to go with it and your pushing your baby's life just the way you want it. That some special stuff if that record can be successful because no one else touched that except you. Well enough of me talking let's get into me talking some more. Here we go...
I'm going to get a lot of shit for only having these guys in the honorable mention but i'm not trying to pretend like i know their work when i don't. That being said i know these guys are among the best at what they do and i need to check their stuff out soon.
Putting Blu right here is weird for me because i am basing this off of very little. I am basing his MCing off of his one album that I actually listened to, Below The Heavens, along with some features he has been on over the years like The Day, Old Souls, and Questions (shout out to Arima Ederra). And as for his production skills i am basing that off of his collaborative EP with my man ANTHM, Handful Of Dust. That project dropped maybe a month ago and if you haven't checked it out, give it a listen. It's less than 30 minutes so you can listen to it while taking a shit or walking to school and be done with it quick plus it has replay value so do yourself a favor. The weird thing is that i have yet to hear Blu spit over beats by GodLeeBarnes, his producer alter ego. I'm sure it's out there so i just gotta do my research. But i enjoyed those two projects so much i had to slide Blu onto the list and show some love. Oh and he is actually a good producer unlike someone like Kid Cudi who sounds like he just started making beats 5 minutes before he stepped into the booth to record Indicud.
9. Pimp C
RIP Pimp C. One half of the legendary UGK with his partner in crime Bun B, Pimp C produced much of the duo's material over their illustrious career. That is the thing i love about in house producers is that they know the exact vision the MCs want to put out. Pimp C laced those tracks and the appeal of UGK was their heavy beats. Their music was south to the core and just excellent. And if you're like me and haven't delved too much into their work you know Big Pimpin and yeah that was Pimp C and B-U-N-B on there with Jigga man.
8. J Dilla
In my opinion Dilla, RIP, is the greatest producer in the history of hip hop. The guys that influenced Dilla ended up getting influenced by him before it was all said and done. That is some shit. Think about that. Imagine the student becoming the teacher to his former teacher. His production work is unparralleled to anyone who has been in the game. You could go for days listing the excellent albums he has had his hand in over the years like Fantastic Vol 2, Labcabincalifornia, Beats rhymes and Life, and Like Water For Chocolate to name a few. He was never one to get on the mic very often but when he did he made sure to make it count. Just working with talented MCs his whole career probably rubbed off on Jay Dee and he soaked up tips just by being there. Look at Fall-N-Love for an example. Shit is just great in every sense of the word. I wish he dropped more projects with him spitting on it more but what can you do. At least he left us with so many dope beats to listen to.
7. Lord Finesse
Lord Finesse bruh. A staple in the New York rap scene of since he came out with Funky Technician back in 1990. Unfortunately he is now known to the young kids as the guy who sued Mac Miller for $10 million for using Hip 2 Da Game without permission to make Kool Aid And Frozen Pizza in a move that could change the mixtape game forever. Personally i feel he took it too far with that but that is neither here nor there. He worked great as a solo artist but also worked well as part of the Diggin In The Crates Crew. You know, the group with Big L (RIP), pre-terrible Fat Joe, and O.C (listen to Trophies with Apollo Bown if you haven't already). Lord Finesse was dope both behind the boards and on the mic and i don't how big he was back then but nowadays at least he doesn't get the respect that he deserves.
The legend right here. I don't really need to speak much on his production skills but you can read up on them here and scroll down to the bottom. When Wu Tang came out with 36 Chambers they truly changed the sound of hip hop and a huge part of that was the mastermind of it all, RZA. He made those grimy, dusty beats that sounds like they were made in a garage but it worked and captured the aesthetic of the Wu Tang vision perfectly. When you think of Wu Tang you think of those hard hitting choppy piano beats, they were the best. The best thing about RZA as a producer is that he did not stay confines to hip hop circles. He looked to expand his audience by dabbling in film and television by doing the score to Kill Bill, Soul Plane, Afro Samurai, and Django. Also, in addition to doing the score on the Man With The Iron Fists he starred, directed, and produced it. But he did not just get busy behind the boards. RZA didn't jump on a ton of tracks but whenever he did he made sure to make his prescence felt. He had one of the better verses on Protect Ya Neck, said fuckin ridiculous on So Appalled, and took over the song Beez on Cudi's last album..."I don't write songs young grasshopper, i write sceneries." Whenever he touches the mic you know as a listener you are about to get some knowledge dropped down upon you and his verses always have so many meaning that they could mean something different to everybody. Just keep doing your thing Ruler Zig Zag Allah.
5. Kanye West
I''m going to get a lot of shit about putting Kanye behind the next guy on the list but that isn't a knock on Kanye at all. His career is remarkable considering he had always aspired to be a rapper but when no one would give him the time or day he made sure he got into the industry by becoming one of the best beatmakers of his generation. Kanye burst onto the scene as a sought after producer following the work he did on Jay-z's The Blueprint which is thought of as either Hov's best or 2nd best album in his career. The biggest cuts Kanye laced for the album were the Nas diss, Takeover, and H to the Izzo. After that, artists were reaching out to Kanye and he proceeded to make tracks like Down and Out, Guess Who's Back, 03 Bonnie and Clyde just to name a few. With his success Kanye set out to make a name for himself as a rapper and dropped 4 very very good albums in The College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. His fourth album 808s and Heartbreak is constantly given flack for being his worst but the singy songy rap we hear nowadays largely stems from that album. The great thing about kanye is that on each of his projects up through MBDTF is that we saw the progression of him as an MC and as a Producer. Both facets were getting better and more grandiose with each album. It perfectly correlated with his ego getting bigger and bigger as time went by too. But lately there have been rumors of kanye having his stuff either ghost written or ghost produced which people say is the reason his last two projects, Watch The Throne and Cruel Summer weren't the same quality as previous projects but who knows. Even if that was true, the fact that Kanye has those first five albums to his name speaks volumes to his talent. And now the man has crossed over value. Nowadays he is more of a celebrity than a musician but we all know if he gets his mind right, he can lace fire at the drop of a dime.
My boy right here. If he can keep putting out the work he has been the last three years he is going to be creeping up the list even though he already is high up here. Starting with Krit Wuz Here he has released 5 good to excellent projects. I wasn't feeling Live From The Underground too much and King Remembered In Time has to go through a couple more months to see if it still has replay value because Krit has said he tries to make timeless music. On that note Krit Wuz Here, Return Of 4eva, and 4 Eva N A Day were all top notch releases that if i had done a year end list of best albums, they would have been at the top in each of the last 3 years. The funny thing too was 4ENAD took me a while to appreciate and now that stays in constant rotation on the ipod. The things i love about his music is i could listen to the beats, the samples, and the lyrics and they all fit together perfectly. I am convinced there is no one else on this planet who could execute the other half for Krit better than Krit can himself. What i mean by that is that no other producer can match their beats to Krit's lyrics or no other lyricists can match their words with Krit's beats better then he can. He is the only one that can execute his vision. I can listen to his projects as instrumentals and be just as happy as if i'm listening to the complete album. The thing about Krit too is that right now he up there with MCs in terms of being a lyricist and up at the top in terms of being a producer. He can do either just as good and meshes those talents well when he chooses to do so.
Now i don't know what Ali Shaheed Muhammed did as a member of A Tribe Called Quest but I do know Q-Tip crafted the production for their first three classic albums. Tip helped usher in the afro-centric rap genre proving rappers weren't all about flaunting what they had while proving you could have a good time vibing out to jazz basslines. Not only that but with his nasally voice and clever punchlines, Q held his own on the mic. He was the most prominent spitter on their debut album and when Phife finally caught up by the time The Low End Theory rolled around, ATCQ was something to be reckoned with. The funny thing is that Q-Tip's most notable contribution to not just hip hop but to music in general was not the jazz rap, the Native Tongues Posse, or Tribe but rather it was taking a young kid named Jay Dee under his wing laying down the foundation for the greatest producer to become the legend he became. It was like Ip Man training Bruce Lee, rip. Tip had some success as a solo artist but did his best work in groups like the aforementioned ATCQ and the Native Tongues in addition to The Ummah and the Soulquarians. You can catch him now as a member of GOOD Music which i don't think anyone really knows what he does other then give advice to the younger cats and kanye himself since he wasn't even on Cruel Summer. Q-Tip is a legend in the game and can do whatever he wants the rest of his career because he has done more than enough for both himself and for hip hop as a culture to solidify his legacy.
El-Producto man what can i say about the guy. If he just stuck to producing he would have been been a legend in the game. He was a part of Rawkus Records back in their heyday as part of Company Flow and produced their album Funcrusher Plus by himself. Then he entirely produced one of the greatest if not the greatest underground hip hop album ever Cold Vein by Cannibal Ox. He doesn't spit too often but when he does he makes it count. El-P has released three solo albums since 2002 so you know he takes his time crafting his work and it pays off because each of his projects have been heralded as the best of their respective years. His lyrics are dense so you gotta listen to them a bunch of times to get what he is saying but when it all comes together you just get a wtf feeling and you wonder why you haven't been listening to him before. He is truly unique as an artist that there is no chance of biting his style because someone will call that person out immediately. That is how distinct it is. And the last year has been real good to El-P. He produced Killer Mike's last album RAP Music which received universal acclaim, he released his latest album, Cancer 4 Cure to universal acclaim, performed at Coachella, and had the best verse on the rowdiest track of 2013 so far in Piss Test. El-P doesn't flood the market with material but at least when he does give us something it is not only quality, but it is god enough to satisfy us until he drops his next project. Big ups to El-P.
The man, the myth, the legend literally. Not a lot of people know too much about Doom's personal life and he likes it that way. The Super Villian has many personas on the mic and he matches his production style to fit each persona. He is like a one man Wu Tang. Its ridiculous. Just look at the run he had in the late 90's-early 2000's...Operation Doomsday, Venemous Villain, Vaudeville Villain, MM...Food, and Take Me To Your Leader. That is five classic albums that he made by himself in a five year period and four of those were released in 03 and 04. No one has that kind quality/flooding capabilities. Curren$y puts out projects today like no other but you can't really say any of them are classics. MF DOOM put out 5 of those. He gets criticized for spitting about nothing sometimes but when you have flow and wordplay like Doom does sometimes you just gotta shake your head and let shit slide. MF DOOM can literally turn anything into a great beat. He took a snippet from Fat Albert for god's sake and flipped it onto one of the greatest beats in history. His Special Herbs series is the stuff of legend and rappers constantly use those instrumentals to rap over even today, especially Joey Badass. Even an og in the game Masta Ace rapped over all MF DOOM beats for his latest album Son of Yvonne which is a great album if you haven't checked it out. As for his rapping skills, i think he does well for himself considering Madvillainy and Dangerdoom are also considered classics and the only one doing the spitting on them was Doom so there's that. The man can do it all and does it all with a midas touch. He probably shits gold too.
So there is my list which i am sure will get a lot of shit so tell me how stupid i am in the comments. Let me know who i left off, any up and comers, or why MF DOOM shouldn't hold the top spot. Thanks for taking time out to read this and let me know of any suggestions to write about for next time. peace.
Despot, Killer Mike, Mr Muthafuckin Exquire, El-P
gotta watch the whole set