27th October 2019
There’s something about sample pads, synth keyboards, 808s and drums that make us humans move our heads. Subconsciously; sonically pleasing sounds can cause euphoria to a person. I’ve always appreciated the beat more than the lyrics in hip-hop music, maybe just a 60/40 split but nonetheless still an advantage and this is subjective, there’s no right or wrong answer as music is subjective.
But I often think when listening to music or debating it amongst my friends, I can listen to a song with a good beat and bad lyrics, but I find it much harder to listen to a song with good lyrics but a bad beat. I’ve pulled out 10 Hip-Hop producers that provide a vintage Hip-Hop sound to their production, my favourite pocket of music to listen to in almost any vibe. A very subjective list but oh well… this is my column and I’m sure you’ll appreciate the playlist.
In no particular order;
(Please press play on playlist before reading)
Alchemist has been my favourite producer since I was about 15. However, he’s been around since way before then, from Beverly Hills, his production is heavily desired by many artists, including acts like ScHoolboy Q, Action Bronson, Prodigy, basically everyone.
He’s a genius with sampling music, adding his personal twang with a fusion of old vocals and samples to produce one of the most anticipated sounds in Hip-Hop.
(He also raps from time to time, one half of Hip-Hop duo; Gangrene.)
- Action Bronson – Rare Chandeliers – Mike Vick
- Gangrene – You Disgust Me – Noon Chuckas
- ScHoolboy Q – Oxymoron – Hoover Street
Statik Selektah hailing from Boston with a New York sound. I guess the Tri-State area; New York, Jersey, Boston, Philly and Baltimore have a similar collective sound.
But Statik Selektah stands out amongst those cities, personally I discovered Stat from the emergence of Pro Era, his production on Joey Bada$$ and CJ Fly tracks led me to a world of his production and artists he works with such as Termanology.
His sound and relentless scratching restores a New York feeling DJ Premier expressed but he also pays attention to beautiful old jazz samples.
- Termanology – More Politics – Top Shotta (feat. Joey Bada$$)
- Curren$y – Gran Turismo – Nothing New (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
- Joey Bada$$ – All Amerikkkan Bada$$ – Super Predator (feat. Styles P)
The next guy is a bit of an enigma, constant project releases on Soundcloud this producer basically lives, breathes and consumes music with over 100 projects released in the last decade.
Knxwledge I think is from LA, and his sound is synonymous with a chill smoke vibe. It fits perfectly into Los Angeles.
Another genius with sampling, Knxwledge chops and distorts old funk rhythms of the 80s and converts them into retro hip-hop sounds adding strange drums into almost every track.
- Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly – Momma
- Hodgy Beats – Fireplace: TheNotTheOtherSide – Dreaminofthinkin
- Anderson Paak. – NxWorries – Best One
A legend of the New York Hip-Hop sound, DJ Premier to this day is still blazing with his production.
Of course he’s not Grand Master Flash, But Premier is certainly responsible for bridging the gap and introducing crazy sounds of record scratching to my generation.
Producers such as Statik Selektah continue this legacy in Hip-Hop.
Premier’s résumé speaks for itself, he’s produced classics such as Nas’ NY State of Mind, Biggie’s Kick in the Door and Jay-Z’s Bring it on.
But his recent duo with Royce Da 5’9; PRhyme has certainly kept him relevant and still blaring from my speakers whether it’s his sounds from 1993 or 2018.
- Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death – Ten Crack Commandments
- Mos Def – Black on Both Sides – Mathematics
- PRhyme – PRhyme 2 – Everyday Struggle (feat. Chavis Chandler)
Erick The Architect, 1/3 of the Flatbush ZOMBiES is a self-proclaimed New Yorker. Also, an overlooked rapper, Erick has shouldered the production duties of the ZOMBiES since their beginning and collaborations amongst the Beast Coast collective has kept his sounds prevalent in Brooklyn.
Erick shows versatility in his production ranging from heavy hitting trap sounds to mellow samples to even slow jazz.
- Flatbush ZOMBiES – Did U Ever Think (feat. Joey Bada$$ & Issa Gold)
- Remy Banks – higher. – higher. (feat Erick The Architect)
- Flatbush ZOMBiES – Vacation in Hell – M. Bison
ID Labs, this one is a bit of a cheat as they’re a collective of producers but they collectively produce a similar sound and vibe.
From Pittsburgh Pennsylvania; ID Labs are responsible for providing me with a lot of my early smoking jams, the collective caught our eyes as the in-house production squad for Rostrum Records including Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller and Chevy Woods.
They’re arguably to blame for the hip-hop lo-fi sound that came to such exposure in the early 2010s.
- Wiz Khalifa – Kush & Oj – The Kid Frankie (prod. Big jerm)
- Mac Miller – Watching Moves with the Sound Off – Claymation (feat. Vinny Radio) (prod. E. Dan)
- Chevy Woods – The Cookout – Chi-Town (prod. Sledgren & Cardo)
- Wiz Khalifa – TGOD vol.1 – Can’t Wait (feat. Alpac)
Yet again, another New Yorker makes this list; Harry Fraud famous for the collaborations with Action Bronson, French Montana and Wiz Khalifa. His sound is one of the most sought in the industry.
He’s able to distinguish mellow synth sounds and heavy hard hitting drums making him quite versatile amongst his peers in this list.
He’s been doing what the others in this article have been, but he can also quickly switch to the Trap pace if needs be.
Also fuse both vibes to create his own unique hybrid of production.
- Action Bronson – Saaab Stories – Triple Backflip
- Playboi Carti – Playboi Carti – Location
- Wiz Khalifa & Curren$y – 2009 – Forever Ball
Another legend in the list and another enigma who breathes music. Madlib is a pioneer for lo-fi hip-hop sounds as the alter-ego Quasimoto.
Hailing from Oxnard California, Madlib’s sound can’t be boxed into a region. His range of sonic in production stays true to the core elements of hip-hop. However, his sound is extremely experimental and unique which sets him apart from the competition.
Madlib has been able to create his own lane due to his unique experimental sound.
- Kanye West – The Life of Pablo – No More Parties in LA (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
- Madvillain – Madvillainy – Meat Grinder
- MED – Bad Neighbour – The Strip (feat. Anderson. Paak)
Cookin’ Soul are a production duo from Spain and within the last decade; I’ve begun to form a liking for their sounds.
You could argue that the duo emerged from nowhere, but that infamous “cookin’soul!” drop began to get familiar on songs I took an interest to.
Nice head bopping production on lo-fi sounds and mellow tunes has kept them relevant for years and they’re consistent in their sound.
Never surprised by their production as they prove consistency is key.
- CJ Fly – Thee Way I See it – Still The Motto
- Freddie Gibbs – BFK – Walk in wit the M.O. (feat. Dom Kennedy)
- Curren$y – The Legend of Harvard Blue – Grand Piano
This next mention is extremely fresh to my ears and I’m putting him here after listening to one of his projects. From New Jersey; GRiMM Doza collaborated with London’s Lord Apex in 2017. But in 2018 he entirely produced Retch’s After The Verdict mixtape which was possibly my favourite project of that year. His production restored a feeling that’s been long lost in Retch’s music. His sound is a unique very heavy hitting distorted sound, synonymous with darkness. Though his sound is super experimental, distorted and unique, it holds elements that remain true to the core of Hip-Hop.
- Retch – After the Verdict – Walk Through
- Lord Apex – Interplanetary Funk – Pretty Penny
- Retch – After the Verdict – Late Night