One of the best young producers in the game right now, KRIT is keeping true Southern hip hop alive with his classic soul music, whereas a lot of other artists from the region have moved on to trap music, King stays true to his candy paint covered roots. He has produced nearly all of his entire catalog of music as an artist up until this point, where recently he said he will outsource some of that work to others for his next album, Cadillactica, to get a little bit different sound than his previous projects. We're excited to hear KRIT on some different production, but we didn't think there was anything wrong with his own ish. His rhyming ability speaks for itself, and only continues to grow and mature. Verses on songs like "1 Train" and "Mt. Olympus" have only elevated him to the upper echelon of newer artists, increasing the anticipation of more music from the Mississippi native.
"Swishers & Liquor" by Fat Trel (prod. Big K.R.I.T.)
One half of NYC's legendary Mobb Deep, Havoc has an extensive production catalog. Not only did he produce most of the Mobb's music, but he also did work for hip hop heavyweights like Eminem, Nas, Biggie Smalls, and Diddy. His beats represent iconic New York street rap, and that's just one side of him. To put it simply, homie can spit. If him and Prodigy didn't have such frequent issues with each other, Mobb Deep would probably still be very relevant today, as they were ahead of their time style-wise and could've held their own today where there's a shortage of true gangster rap in the genre. Aside from all of that, Havoc produced what may be the most freestyled-over beat in the history of hip hop, "Shook Ones, Pt. 2".
The Jay Z protege has had a whirlwind of a career in just a few years, and it doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. He stormed into the game spitting insane bars and making beats that sounded like they were coming from someone far beyond his years. He grew up in North Carolina idolizing the great 9th Wonder and it shows, Cole uses a lot of soul samples with his impeccable drum work to craft truly powerful songs for himself and other lucky artists. With his sophomore set Born Sinner quieting a lot of the doubters, he seems poised to really take off going forward, and we can't wait to hear what's next.
Obviously, Eminem's production credits pale in comparison to his prolific catalog as an artist, but that's not saying much, as almost everyone's catalog pales in comparison to Marshall's. Em is very quiet about his beatmaking, usually creating a beat for a specific artist, rather than making a large quantity and sending them to a bunch of different artists to see what sticks. Most of his production work has gone to his own projects or to other Shady team members like D12, G-Unit, Royce Da 5'9", and Yelawolf. However on a few select occasions he has crafted some classics for people outside the Shady/Aftermath family like Jay Z and Jadakiss. As probably the best pure rapper of all time, he only ranks towards the back end of this list because of the limited scope of his production catalog in comparison. Please don't put us in your trunk, Em.
It's hard to tell where Dilla would have ended up on this list had his life not been cut short at the young age of 32. He is one of the most prolific producers in hip hop, influencing an entire generation of other producers and artists like Kanye West and The Roots. His style was so classic, but with his own twist. The Slum Village MC didn't rap a lot, but when he did, he had serious bars. Due to continuous label issues with MCA in the early 2000s, we didn't get to hear a lot of his work as an artist, but thanks to his family now having more control over his estate, we're starting to see some of Dilla's unreleased material see the light of day. RIP.
RZA has made far more of an impact on the hip hop genre as a producer than a rapper, just by the sheer volume of songs he has produced, which is almost all of the Wu-Tang catalog and most of the Clan's solo projects. He helped to define an entire style of rap with what the Wu did in the '90s and early 2000s, progressing and evolving what was already done on the West Coast, but of course with a New York flavor. As the leader of the Wu, he's spearheaded and organized most of their projects in recent years, which can't be easy, but we surely appreciate it. Hopefully whoever buys the one copy of the next Clan album they're selling throws it online so we can all enjoy it without forking over a cool $5 million. Oh yeah, and he made beats for Shaquille O'Neal, so there's that. Kazaam.
The Abstract One isn't rapping as much these days, but he's still helping artists out on the backend, racking up production credits with some of today's brightest young stars like Esperanza Spalding. Aside from producing all but three songs total on ATCQ's first three albums, he went solo in 2005, though label troubles have stalled what should have been an otherwise illustrious career. Luckily for us we'll get to hear both sides of Q-Tip soon, as he is slated to release his next solo album in 2014, and is producing Kanye West's follow up to Yeezus with Rick Rubin, also on pace to come out this year. If we had to guess, we'd say he'll be on an award tour pretty soon.
"Can I Kick It?" by A Tribe Called Quest (prod. Q-Tip)
It's impossible to deny the Doc's impact on hip hop culture as an artist and producer. He's had his hand in every phase of the game throughout the years in some way or another. From being a member of the World Class Wreckin' Cru, to changing the entire dynamic of the genre with N.W.A., to his beyond monumental two solo albums, to bringing three different generation defining artists in Eminem, 50 Cent, and Kendrick Lamar to the mainstream as the head of his label Aftermath. Never being satisfied with his accomplishments, he has now transcended the genre even further by putting himself in position to be a top executive at Apple via the sale of his Beats by Dr. Dre electronics company. While he isn't as active in the music industry in the capacity we'd like him to be, we see glimpses every once in a while that remind us of his immense talent and how much we need Detox. Really though Dre, we need it. Please.
In last week's Top 10 we discussed the best Kanye beats of all time. The sheer difficulty of putting that list together proved why 'Ye needed to be up near the top of this list. He has amassed a catalog of production credits and songs of his own that is truly staggering, the likes of which we probably won't be able to fully appreciate until his career is over. Because every year has brought new changes to Yeezy's musical style, it's almost as impossible to predict what's next for him as it is what he'll say during one of his "streams of consciousness". When he compares himself to John Lennon, Steve Jobs, and other visionaries you may scoff at him and score it as arrogance, but when you take a step back he's not too far off. He's making it his personal mission to fuck up the system, whether that system be music, fashion, or just our own personal comfort zones. Kanye West isn't even really a dual threat, mainly because it's so difficult to quantify his skill sets in that way. If we were making a list of people that produce, rap, design the most in-demand shoe model on the planet, take the most liked photo in Instagram history, and punch the most photographers, he'd for sure be in the number one spot.
Basically anybody in the top 5 can have an argument made for the top spot, but Skateboard P has been revolutionizing not just hip hop, but music as a whole for almost two decades. With his production team The Neptunes, he crafted a list of hits that's a mile long. They never followed any kind of industry trend, always opting to go the more far out and experimental route. They did everything from grimey coke-fueled street rap with The Clipse, to synth-laden club smashes for Jay Z and Snoop Dogg, among countless other legends in the game. With his rock/rap/funk/all-around-fucking-amazing group N.E.R.D. he put out multiple albums of heat, especially their incredible debut In Search Of... which was truly a breakthrough stylistically, merging genres flawlessly. He's even tried his hand at film scoring, composing all the music for both Despicable Me films. As a solo artist, he stuck to the less traveled experimental road in the past even when it meant his debut album didn't perform commercially as it should have. Finally in 2014, the masses came to their senses and flocked to the stores to buy his newest release G.I.R.L., anchored by the global phenomenon that was the song "Happy". He's given us more memorable verses, hooks, beats, and fashion trends than could ever be quantified, and that's why he's the cream of the crop when it comes to dual threats.
"Grindin'" by Clipse (prod. The Neptunes)
"Provider" by N.E.R.D.
We continue our Top 10 series by counting down the best beat-making rappers...or rapping beat makers.
After covering rappers and a producer in our first couple instalments of Top 10, we decided to combine the two for this week's. In the past decade especially, the producer credit has gotten it's fair share of the spotlight, whereas before, the role was much more in the background. With increased exposure, comes increased opportunity to capitalize on it. Lots of producers have tried their hand at spitting bars over the years, with some doing it more gracefully than others. For a lot of artists, producing is their way into the industry, as they first make a name for themselves behind the boards for already-established artists, before going on to release their own projects. It's not necessarily easier to get your foot in the proverbial door behind an MPC than a microphone, but it's worked for a few artists. For other artists, they picked up beat-making along the way, after already hitting it big with their rhymes, giving them a new outlet for creativity, not to mention a new revenue stream.
Today, we'll countdown the top 10 artists who've honed their skills in both arenas, plus a few who just missed the cut. Head to the comment section, Facebook, or Twitter to let us know anybody you think we unjustly left off, but don't be butt hurt when we tell you why you're wrong. Just kidding, kinda. If you're wondering why you lucked out and got a new Top 10 so soon after the last one, we're dropping them on Mondays going forward, so shout out in the comments any future list suggestions!