Long before Taylor Gang, Juicy J with DJ Paul were responsible for the horrorcore sound of the Memphis underground. As Three 6 Mafia grew in notoriety, so did Juicy’s part in cooking up star-studded posse anthems. Hardcore street rhymes about drugs references, profanity, sex and talking riches is expected when beats have such a natural propensity to it. Juicy is one veteran still going strong, currently sharing the spotlight with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa and French Montana. His newest mixtape Blue Dream & Lean is the only time you’ll see an old soul crooner, a Wiz hook and Tyler’s “swag!” adlib all sampled on the same track. Yup, Juicy still got those over-the-top Southern raps for days.
Black Milk teamed up recently with Danny Brown for their Detroit hip-hop offering Black and Brown! While Danny Brown kept the transgression raps in check, Black Milk’s production continues to soar. He has a talent of finding the middle ground between his sonic imprint filled with crate-digging samples and his art as a lyricist. He also compliments the collective of Random Axe, serving up dark beats for their hard-nosed rhymes. In short, Black Milk is growing into one of the most influential producers of his generation, converging funk, rock influences and pure feel-good hip-hop.
J.Cole started his career by producing his first three mixtapes: The Come Up, The Warm Up, and Friday Night Lights. His debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story was released in September and landed at number one on the Billboard charts. Cole also produced his debut including the single "Work Out" and also "Mr. Nice Watch," featuring Jay-Z. Aside from his own work, J. Cole produced the track "HiiiPoWeR" for Kendrick Lamar's album Section.80.
Having one of the biggest hip-hop mixtapes this year with the Return of 4Eva, BIG K.R.I.T. established himself as a respectable force in both the art of rap and production. The Return of 4Eva, released in March 2011 was self-produced by K.R.I.T. and exhibitiedhis knack for southernplayalistic soul and blues, intertwined with his conceptual lyrics about life and its consequences. Apart from his own work, he has also provided beats for Ludacris' "Country Sh*t" and T.I.'s "I'm Flexin."
Of course there would be no rapper/producer list without The Abstract. As one of the three members of A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip produced the group's first albums People's Instinctive Travels and Paths of Rhythm, The Low End Theory, and Midnight Marauders mostly himself. All three are considered classic rap albums and helped shape a new alternative sound, linking jazz and hip-hop in the early 1990s. Q-Tip broke away from the group and co-produced his solo album Amplified with the late producer Jay Dilla. He also lead-produced his second studio album The Renaissance. Most recently, Tip co-produced tracks on Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch The Throne, including "Lift Off" and "That's My B*itch." He's also producing for Esperanza Spalding's upcoming Radio Music Society to release next year.
Out of all the producer-rappers in the game, Mannie Fresh’s hood rich lyrics and bouncy 808 drums have helped develop Dirty South hip-hop. For over a decade, Fresh has provided the backbone for Cash Money Records and New Orleans’ trademark sound. He has been the sole producer of platinum hits for local hometown artists, including his own flyer-than-life duo Big Tymers with Birdman. Fresh’s rhymes are all about boasting really anything big and flashy, starting from the rims to women to gator boots. While he is currently producing for Juvenile’s next project with “Sweet Love” as a preview, check our Full Clip for more of Fresh's iconic tracks.
Most hip-hop heads knows that Tyler, the Creator can compose his own beats. However, his inspirations are interesting to note. Hints of Chad Hugo and Pharrell of The Neptunes are found all over the bulk of Odd Future’s catalog and his own solo albums, Bastard and Goblin. Lush production with Tyler’s dark confessional subject matter is a style that's heavily criticized. But the 20-year-old’s controversial ways on and off the mic are hard not to follow. Hip-Hop changed changed because of Tyler’s movement, so those unlikely melodies and provocative rhymes won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
Kanye West comparisons to RZA's style says a lot. RZA’s reputation in hip-hop continues to receive praise and respect for his influential music, paving the way for brisk beats and kung-fu-inspired tracks in the 90s. His short cameo on “So Applaud,” off West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is recent work that still showcases his dynamic production and powerful hooks. Take a closer look into RZA’s track record, he’s a master of creative vocabulary and raw minimalist instrumentation, beginning with the basics of slow samples and gritty rhymes. Whether RZA is a part of Wu-Tang group albums or embracing the alter-ego Bobby Digital, inside the recording studio he still stands as one of the best.