When producers take the reigns and make their own albums with rotating casts of rappers, results vary. Here are the ten best ones.
Right now, two of the summer's most anticipated albums feature producers' names in the top-billed spot: Mike Will Made It's Ransom 2 and Clams Casino's 32 Levels. Most of the excitement hinges on the projects' star-studded guestlists (although we can't say a damn thing against Clammy Clams' three prior instrumental compilations), and as far as producer-led albums in hip hop go, that's usually been the case. First beginning in the late eighties with the game's first batch of superproducers, the "producer album" has proved to be a difficult art to master, especially for beatmakers who don't rap. Sure, you've got guys like Dr. Dre, El-P, J. Cole, and Kanye West who've had no problem producing entire projects for themselves and their friends, and plenty of producers who've made wildly successful full-project statements with one or two rappers at the helm, but the compilation-style approach, where the production is the only constant in the face of a revolving door of vocalists, is trickier.
More often than not, we've seen such projects face-plant, as was the case with Timbaland's awkward Shock Value series, but a few have shone through the chaos. We've selected the ten best "producer albums" from the past thirty years, with stipulations that include: at least ten different MCs, very few (if any) rapped vocals by the producers themselves, and no instrumental projects. Click ahead to get started.