The ten best rap producers of all time

Categories: Lists

081413_preemo-004.jpg
Antonio Valenzuela
Premo is one of the ten best rap producers of all time. See who else made the list.

Even though rappers and producers share a symbiotic dependence on one another, there's been an ongoing debate in rap music about who plays the most pivotal role: the one providing the words or the one providing the music. While the MCs obviously get the most shine, would Guru's words have been as impactful had he not been backed by the incredible DJ Premier? Could the Wu have revolutionized the game without the RZA? Here are the ten best producers in hip-hop history.

See also: Which hip-hop crew is the dopest?

10. Large Professor
Besides discovering Nas and producing 30 percent of the most unassailable rap album of all time, Large Professor has been one of rap's most well respected figures for twenty years and counting. His career began in high school when he programmed beats for the legendary Eric B & Rakim. Soon after, he was producing his own classic album with Main Source in Breaking Atoms.

9. Rick Rubin
Rick Rubin is arguably one of the finest music producers in any genre, but his contribution to hip-hop has been monumental. He may not have produced a ton of rap albums compared with the rest of his gigantic catalog, but much of his finest work has been rap, from Run D.M.C.'s Raising Hell and the Beastie Boys' License to Ill to Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and LL Cool J's Radio.

8. J Dilla
J Dilla is both one of the most overrated and underrated producers in all of hip-hop. On the one hand, not enough people know him, or else his irrepressibly soulful cuts would be celebrated well beyond hip-hop walls. On the other hand, the people who do know him love him unconditionally. It doesn't help that he died from Lupus well before he had time to finish up his catalog, but his work with Slum Village and beyond was enough to show that Jay Dee was a one-in-a-million talent, capable of arranging a mess of mismatched samples into a beautiful bouquet and transforming an unrecognizable vocal snippet into an expression of pure emotion.

7. Pete Rock
Pete Rock is one of the best samplers of all time, not only in his excellent taste and choice in samples, but in his creativity in recontextualizing those samples and reintroducing them with a hip-hop flair. He had an especially captivating ability to take horn samples, tweak them with effects and layer them over each other or themselves for classy, nostalgic effect. Rock's best musical years were had alongside rapper C L Smooth across the first half of the '90s, but his impact on the musical landscape, even today, is immeasurable.

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42 comments
Jacob Edward
Jacob Edward

Change Marley Marl to Timbaland and you have a solid list. Eminem should probably be on there too. Honorable mentions for Alchemist, Havoc and Hi-Tek.

Chad Nelan
Chad Nelan

All good wish I would have seen timbal and on there somewhere.

Adam Aedro Drotar
Adam Aedro Drotar

Come on people we are talking PRODUCERS. the guy who said anyone but Kanye and lil Wayne must be too busy smoking rods to pay attention the the title I the article. Overall a great list. Timbaland should be on it tho.

James Martin
James Martin

For 1, "all time" has not gotten here yet & it never will. 2ndly, it's a silly question.

Josh Nadler
Josh Nadler

Solid list, although Madlib is missing, as well as El-P

Eryn Morgan Jones
Eryn Morgan Jones

I'd put Premo at the top easily. But then I prefer east coast over west. And Dilla maybe a bit higher. Nice list overall tho

Josh St. Onge
Josh St. Onge

Jean Carlos Leccia Coa, huh? We speak English here

Derrick Rudolph
Derrick Rudolph

No particular order: Premier, Pete Rock, Dilla, RZA, Dre

Gabriel Velez
Gabriel Velez

Wow, that was actually a really good list. I'm shocked, Lol.

jsmith
jsmith

YO KANYE IS A GENIUS AND WILL GO DOWN AS A MUSICAL LEGEND. WHAT YOU KNOW OF BACH COMPARED TO JAN ZACH IS WHAT PEOPLE OF THE FUTURE WILL KNOW OF YE COMPARED TO EVERYONE ELSE ON THIS LIST C'MON NOW



JRush Vertigo
JRush Vertigo

anybody but kanye or lil wayne, thats for sure...

Josh Nadler
Josh Nadler

A little too much Pop-Hop for my taste. EL-P should be on this list. DJ Shadow too.

Blayne McMillan
Blayne McMillan

My take is that people should keep arguing over this list.

Shep Hiphopmom
Shep Hiphopmom

Giving access in order to comment irks me, so I'll just comment here. Of course, I think it's easy to forget the ones who got killed for their proximity to Tupac. But leaving Johnny J off this list is unforgivable.

FrankieSharp
FrankieSharp

Some good names on this list, but I would submit Kane Beatz simply because of the string of hits he's had in the last few years. 

Helping Hands
Helping Hands

Dylan. Dylan. Dylan. Dylan. Dylan. Dylan. Dylan. Dylan. Dylan. and Dylan.

luisortiz1996
luisortiz1996

Good list except for Kanye and Dre. Dre isn't 1 and Kanye isn't 3

WookieGoldberg
WookieGoldberg

Kanye over Dilla? No mention of Madlib? Get the fuck out of here with this bullshit. 

rathbone17
rathbone17

I also agree with about 70% of the list.  The two missing ingredients for me would be Timbaland, Havoc, Andre 3000.  Aside from Kanye's egotistical garbage over the past few years, he has come through with an abundance of quality productions over the years, most of which were before he started dropping his own albums.

DRUH
DRUH

I pretty much agreed with your list until #3 and #1 but its probably because I am biased towards Underground HipHop versus anything that has "Pop" appeal. Ever hear of 7L from "7L & Esoteric"? How bout STOUPE from Jedi Mind Tricks? How bout some Snow Goons? Again 8 out of 10 is not bad for an "best of All Time" list. pEACe

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