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10 Producers Who Bring Out The Best JAY-Z

From Pharrell to Clark Kent, here are other producers who've made magic with Hov. 

We all know the phrase, “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.” Thankfully, JAY-Z doesn’t listen to silly clichés. Because, at the age of 47, we saw the legendary rapper do something he’s never done before: lock in with one producer and create one brilliant piece of work.

As we all know, the rapper’s excellent album 4:44 was produced by No I.D., the man who helped groom legends like Common and Kanye West. On this project, you can tell they’re pushing each other: JAY gives his most heartfelt and honest performance in years, while No I.D. provides JAY with some of his most textured work.

In a career that has spanned more than 20 years, the artist has collaborated with dozens of producers. However, there’s only been a select few who he have had a special bond with the legendary rapper.

In no particular order or ranking, here are the ten producers JAY-Z has done his best work with.

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1. Ski

#reasonabledoubt #20thanniversary

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There were many producers on JAY-Z’s classic debut LP Reasonable Doubt, but none mattered more than Ski, who produced four tracks on the album: “Politics as Usual,” "Dead Presidents II," “22 Two's,“ and “Feelin’ It,” which JAY muscled away from Ski and Camp Lo.

We saw how strong their chemistry was when, a year later, Ski produced classic singles like “Who You Wit II" and “Streets is Watching.” However, despite their success rate, the musical relationship cooled. The last time the two would ever pair up would be on “People Talking,” a very good track that got buried on JAY’s MTV Unplugged album.

2. DJ Premier

Back in the ‘90s, the DJ Premier stamp of approval meant everything. The legendary producer basically appeared on 90 percent of the rap albums that mattered during that era, from Nas’ Illmatic to The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die to, yes, JAY’s Reasonable Doubt. You can’t speak about Reasonable Doubt without mentioning “D'Evils,” probably JAY’s most haunting song — a song that came when the artist rapped his verse over the phone and Primo crafted a beat from those lyrics.

JAY-Z and DJ Premier would keep a very productive relationship going; Primo appeared on JAY’s first four albums. However, after their initial run, the two stopped working together, despite the mutual respect. The last collaboration they would do together was the Vol 3… Life & Times of S. Carter snapper “So Ghetto.”

3. Clark Kent

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Happy Born Day, Young.. GOD Bless.

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In the early days, DJ Clark Kent was one of JAY-Z’s most reliable producers. They worked together on pre-Reasonable Doubt cuts like Hi-Five’s “She’s Playing Hard” remix and the In My Lifetime B-side “Can’t Get Wit That.” (Hov was still doing double time flows back then).

The most iconic collaboration between the two was “Brooklyn’s Finest,” which featured The Notorious B.I.G. The two didn’t work with each other much after that. However, JAY made sure to shout out Kent on The Black Album closer "My 1st Song."

4. Timbaland

Timbaland had a heavy hand in Magna Carta... Holy Grail, one of the more unpopular JAY albums in his discography. But, that album can’t change the fact that the two have classic records together. What makes a lot of their work — especially the early stuff — so good is that Timbo usually saved some of his more adventurous beats for JAY, from the spacey ““Ni**a What, Ni**a Who” to the glitchy “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.”

5. Swizz Beatz

It’s crazy to think about, but Swizz and Hov have made bangers in the ‘90s, aughts, and the ‘10s. With each collaboration, you sort of get a screenshot of where JAY was at that moment in his life. On early collaborations, like “Jigga my Ni**a” and “Money Cash Hoes,” Hov was mean-spirited. On collaborations from the aughts, like the Grammy-award-winning, “On to the Next One,” he was at his most braggadocious. And on later collabos, like Watch the Throne standouts "Murder to Excellence" and "Welcome to the Jungle,” he came with perspective — realizing there were bigger fish to fry than rival rappers and doubters.

6. The Neptunes

Everyone can name the Neptunes-produced hits. But it’s the album cuts that make the JAY-Z and Neptunes’ relationship so special. These songs are some of JAY’s greatest gems.

What makes their union so cool is you never know what kind of song you’re going to get from the two: it can be introspective like “Allure;” experimental like “I Know;” or just plain fun and breezy like “Gotta Have It.” There have been some clunkers over the years — we shall not speak of “Anything” and "F**k All Nite” — but for the most part JAY and the Neptunes’ collabos have been gold.

7. Kanye West

Kanye West’s relationship with Roc-A-Fella — and extension JAY-Z — started in 2000 when he produced Beanie Sigel’s debut single The Truth. Kanye didn't really become known as one of Roc-A-Fella’s go to guys until Hov’s masterpiece, The Blueprint. After that album, a Kanye West-produced song was something to be cherished.

The two might not be on the best terms right now, but that is a new development. They have been frequent collaborators over the last decade. From a listener's perspective, you always got the sense Kanye led JAY by the hand, especially when you listen to the electronic sounds on Blueprint 3, which foreshadowed the work they would do on Watch the Throne. Whatever their issues are, let’s hope they get it straightened so we can get another classic.

8. Just Blaze

From 2000 to 2007, Just Blaze was JAY-Z’s workhorse. He was Hov’s go-to guy, producing more tracks for the legendary rapper than anyone else during that period. JAY has more hits with other producers. But the duo of JAY and Just Blaze has created the most crowd pleasers, from The Dynasty “Intro" to "U Don't Know" and the climatic "Public Service Announcement (Interlude),” the ultimate concert opener.

9. Sean C & LV

LV & Sean C only worked with JAY during one period of his career. But the music that was created during that era is so beloved, it’s impossible to not give them mention. In 2007, Puff Daddy reformed the Hitmen, with LV & Sean C being the much-needed mavericks. The three produced six tracks for one of JAY-Z’s better albums, American Gangster. They were the ones that set the direction for the album, creating production that had a unique mix of samples and live instrumentals.

 

10. No I.D.

No I.D. and JAY-Z have a solid history together. The first track they collaborated on was The Blueprint 2 deep cut, “All Around the World.” From there, No I.D. would become a reliable hired gun for Hov; he was the man behind the boards for the Blueprint 3’s first two singles, “DOA (Death of Autotune)” and the smash hit “Run this Town.”

But it’s on 4:44 where No I.D. really signifies his legacy as one of his best collaborators. No I.D. provided JAY with some of the densest and most soulful production of his career. In the process, we heard vulnerability from JAY that we’ve never heard before.

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Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are thebomb.com for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

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Beyoncé performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California.
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Homecoming: The 5 Best Moments Of Beyoncé’s Documentary

Once Beyoncé became the first African-American woman to headline in its nearly 20-year history, we knew Coachella would never the same. To mark the superstar’s historic moment, the 2018 music and arts festival was appropriately dubbed #Beychella and fans went into a frenzy on social media as her illustrious performance was live-streamed by thousands. (Remember when fans recreated her choreographed number to O.T. Genasis’ “Everybody Mad”?)

With a legion of dancers, singers and musicians adorned with gorgeous costumes showcasing custom-made crests, the singer’s whirlwind performance honored black Greek letter organizations, Egyptian queen Nefertiti, and paid homage to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Aside from the essence of black musical subgenres like Houston’s chopped and screwed and Washington D.C.’s go-go music, the entertainer performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as “The Black National Anthem,” and implemented a dancehall number, sampling the legendary Jamaican DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, to show off the versatility of black culture.

One year after #Beychella’s historic set, the insightful concert film, Homecoming, began streaming on Netflix and unveiled the rigorous months of planning that went into the iconic event. The 2-hour 17-minute documentary highlights Beyoncé’s enviable work ethic and dedication to her craft, proving why this performance will be cemented in popular culture forever. Here are the best moments from Beyoncé’s Homecoming documentary.

The Intentional Blackness

“Instead of me bringing out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella.”

Throughout the documentary, Beyoncé made it known that everything and everyone included in the creative process leading up to the annual festival was deliberately chosen. “I personally selected each dancer, every light, the material on the steps, the height of the pyramid, the shape of the pyramid,” says Beyoncé. “Every tiny detail had an intention.” When speaking on black people as a collective the entertainer notes, “The swag is limitless.” Perhaps the most beautiful moments in Homecoming are the shots that focus on the uniqueness of black hair and its versatility. What’s appreciated above all is the singer’s commitment to celebrating the various facets of blackness and detailing why black culture needs to be celebrated on a global scale.

Beyoncé’s Love And Respect For HBCUs

#Beychella — which spanned two consecutive weekends of Coachella’s annual festival — was inspired by elements of HBCU homecomings, so it was no surprise when the singer revealed she always wanted to attend one. “I grew up in Houston, Texas visiting Prairie View. We rehearsed at TSU [Texas State University] for many years in Third Ward, and I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny's Child. My college was traveling around the world and life was my teacher.” Brief vignettes in the film showcased marching bands, drumlines and the majorettes from notable HBCUs that comprise of the black homecoming experience. In the concert flick, one of the dancers affectionately states, “Homecoming for an HBCU is the Super Bowl. It is the Coachella.” However, beyond the outfits that sport a direct resemblance to Greek organizations, Beyoncé communicated an important message that remains a focal point in the film: “There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.”

The Familiar Faces

Despite being joined by hundreds of dancers, musicians and singers on-stage, the entertainer was joined by some familiar faces to share the monumental moment with her. While making a minor appearance in the documentary, her husband and rapper/mogul Jay-Z came out to perform “Deja Vu” with his wife. Next, fans were blessed by the best trio to ever do it as Kelly and Michelle joined the singer with renditions of their hit singles including “Say My Name,” “Soldier,” and more. On top of this star-studded list, Solange Knowles graced the “Beychella” stage and playfully danced with her older sister to the infectious “Get Me Bodied.”

Her Balance Of Being A Mother And A Star

Originally slated to headline the annual festival in 2017, the singer notes that she “got pregnant unexpectedly...and it ended up being twins.” Suffering from preeclampsia, high blood pressure, toxemia and undergoing an emergency C-section, the entertainer candidly details how difficult it was adjusting post-partum and how she had to reconnect with her body after experiencing a traumatizing delivery. “In the beginning, it was so many muscle spasms. Just, internally, my body was not connected. My body was not there.” Rehearsing for a total of 8 months, the singer sacrificed quality time with her children in order to nail the technical elements that came with the preparation for her Coachella set. “I’m limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol … and I’m hungry.” Somehow, throughout all of this, she still had to be a mom. “My mind wanted to be with my children,” she says. Perhaps one of the most admirable moments in the film was witnessing Beyoncé’s dedication to her family but also to her craft.

The Wise Words From Black Visionaries

Homecoming opens with a quote from the late, Maya Angelou stating, “If you surrender to the air, you can ride it.” The film includes rich and prophetic quotes from the likes of Alice Walker, Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and notable Black thinkers, reaffirming Beyoncé’s decision to highlight black culture. The quotes speak to her womanhood and the entertainer’s undeniable strength as a black woman.

Blue Ivy’s Cuteness

Last, but certainly not least, Blue Ivy‘s appearance in the concert film is nothing short of precious. One of the special moments in the documentary zeroes in on the 7-year-old singing to a group of people whilst Beyoncé sweetly feeds the lyrics into her ears. After finishing, Blue says: “I wanna do that again” with Beyoncé replying with “You wanna be like mommy, huh?” Seen throughout Homecoming rehearsing and mirroring Beyoncé’s moves, Blue just might follow in her mother’s footsteps as she gets older.

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Window display at Harmony Music Shop, a record store in New York City, New York, possibly located in the Bronx, 1980. (Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).
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10 Classic Vinyls To Add To Your Collection For National Record Store Day

Record Store Day is often used to collect new or limited edition vinyl, but why not go against the grain and do a deep dive?

Saturday (April 13) is a day of events for music lovers, especially those fascinated with the crackles and pops of an enjoyable vinyl. As record stores bring out their best pieces, Sonos has done the same with their vinyl set ($799 USD) that includes a Play:5 and a Pro-Ject Essential III Phono. The innovative setup allows you to use their helpful app to play the records (if you're trying to live in the future).

 

But you can't have a setup without records. Beastie Boys, NWA, Eminem and Outkast all have must-have albums to add to your collection, but there are many others that deserve a spin.

Enjoy these picks and make sure you add them to your collection today.

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Diana Ross, Everything Is Everything (1970) Donna Summer, Donna Summer on The Radio Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2 (1979) J.Cole, KOD (2018) Childish Gambino, Awaken My Love! Virtual Reality Vinyl (2017) Miriam Makeba, The Voice Of Africa (1964) Nipsey Hussle, Victory Lap (2LP Vinyl) (2018) Flying Lotus, Captian Murphy's Duality (2012)

Editor's Note: Flying Lotus' alter ego project is extremely hard to find so save your coins for when it comes your way.

Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain (1984) Jay-Z, 4:44 (2017)

Editor's Note: Okay, we know officially the album isn't on vinyl, so be wary of bootleggers. This is also a gentle reminder for Mr. Carter to drop his critically acclaimed album on wax! 

J.I.D., The Never Story (2018)

Learn more about Sonos' vinyl set here.

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