#10 → TIE: SWIZZ BEATZ & WILL.I.AM
Peak VIBE Era Runs: 1998-Present/2004-Present
Certified Bangers: Swizz Beatz: “Banned From TV”-N.O.R.E. feat. Cam’ron, Jadakiss, Styles P, Big Pun and Nature / Will.i.am: “American Boy”-Estelle feat. Kanye West
Power: Swizz Beatz and Will.i.am come in as the first of a second tie on our heavyweight list. While the pair may seem to have an unlikely connection, both producers are what you would call late-bloomers. Swizz, who first came to fame as the Ruff Ryders’ in-house keyboard man in the late ’90s, eventually evolved from his humble Casio beginnings into a dexterous talent who is equally at home making bruising 808 assaults for Jay-Z (“On To The Next One”) as he is creating frantic dance workouts for Beyonce (“Get Me Bodied”).
Meanwhile Will has become pop music’s 500-pound Gorilla in the room. You can gripe about how his Super Bowl Halftime-headlining group the Black Eyed Peas are a fluff act with designs on taking over the world one unavoidable anthem at a time. But Will.i.am will just simply laugh and point to his seemingly endless catalogue of hits that span from heartbreaking compositions (John Legend’s (“Ordinary People”) and stripped down hip-hop (Nas’ “Can’t Forget About You”) to glorious arena sing-alongs (Usher’s “OMG”). Don’t hate.