There is a great number of hip hop music producers that have become key figures of hip hop music and the way it sounds today. These people are the instrumentalists of hip hop music although many of them are also involved lyrically in the creation of songs.
They are called beatmakers as well as music producers, and they have the capability of functioning in the studio as songwriters, sound engineers and record producers, having the complete control over the final result of each recording and sometimes of the entire album.
Let us see closely some of the most significant music producer figures and their music styles.
Dr Dre’s real name is Andre Romelle Young. He was born in 1965 and he is the founder and CEO of Aftermath Records and Beats Electronics. He is considered to be one the richest hip hop artists and has been co-owner of Death Row Records.
He was the reason for the beginning of the careers of several established hip hop artists such as Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Xzibit, 50 Cent, The Game and more. He has produced and supervised many of their records and has been credited with the production of most of the hits contained in their albums.
He is the main man behind the popularity of the sound of G-funk, which contains synthesizer melodies and slow heavy drum loops along with electronic basslines.
His music style is constantly evolving and at the same time manages to stay in touch with the roots of hip hop. He achieves that by revisit the style of his older works and reshaping them, bringing them back to life by adjusting the modern sound to them.
Very often, he uses musicians and instrumentalists to revive some of his older music productions that were created through samples and synthesizer, giving to them a more natural tone, making him able to receive fresh ideas from newcomer producers and musicians.
DJ Premier is the half of the hip hop duo Gang Starr along with the late Guru, and has also formed a newer group called PRhyme with Royce Da 5’9″.
It is very usual for Premier to be included in the lists with the best hip hop producers, as he is one the most influential personalities in the music production industry. He sound is the trademark of the hip hop sound of New York and is well known for sampling jazz, funk and soul vinyl records.
Very usually, Premier resamples old tracks from artists in order to create a new song for them or remix one of their old tracks. He uses short vocal samples in his beats from various artists and this way he manages to create hooks, which is one of his many characteristics.
He has stated that Marley Marl is one his main influences and that his music represents the black culture, which comes from the ghetto. Through his music productions, he tries to reflect the raw realism of the most underrated neighborhoods of New York.
Timbaland’s real name is Timothy Zachery Mosley and he was born on 1972. He is a music producer and songwriter and had the role of the singer in several of his songs.
Timbaland has executively produced the records of many R&B and hip hop artists over the years, making him one of the biggest name in music production worldwide. He is the owner of the label Mosley Music Group and through that label, he has produced records for many artists, such as Nelly Furtado with critical commercial success.
Timbaland has taken the credit for the production of many songs for well-known and established hip hop artists, and he has written over 90 hits as a songwriter.
His production has received wide acclaim worldwide, and he is a very big influence for almost every pop trend, which can be traced back to him, as he is able to incorporate avant-garde sound into the greatest hits.
RZA was born in 1969 and his real name is Robert Fitzgerald Diggs. He is one of the most influential figures of hip hop and the leader of the super group Wu-Tang Clan. He is a rapper, music producer, movie producer, actor, musician and author.
He has produced most of the Wu-Tang albums and many of the Wu-Tang Affiliate albums. GZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard are his cousins, and he has produced solo albums under the name Bobby Digital, with which he has received several more production and lyric credits.
What is more, RZA is also one of the founding member of Gravediggaz, where he appears under the name The RZArector. He has acted, co-write and created the soundtrack for many movies such as Kill Bill and The Man With The Iron Fists.
In 1991, RZA created Wu-Tang Clan along with his cousin GZA, and he took the role of the leader, organizing the group members and making the music production for their albums.
Since the creation of the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA has created over six labels but the earlier ones are believed to be dissolved. RZA is the main producer behind all of these labels, and he is the one responsible for obtaining new artists and their contracts.
It has to be noted, that even though RZA is always behind the creation of every Wu-Tang associated label, he has never been known to be the CEO of any of these labels.
The sound that RZA introduced to the world with the first Wu-Tang album, was a shock for the hip hop community and established him as one of the greatest beatmakers alive.
He used sampled loops along with funk and soul breakbeats to create dark and heavy beats with dry and minimalistic melodies and loops, which were accompanied by realistic and raw lyrics from the members of the group.
Pharrell’s career started with the music duo The Neptunes along with Chad Hugo. They produced R&B and soul music having hip hop as a base. Both solo and as a member of The Neptunes, he produced numerous songs for various artists, most of which became hit singles.
Pharrell Williams own a record label and multimedia creative collective that is called I Am OTHER. Under this label, Pharrell produces all of his solo albums and productions for other artists and projects such as the Billionaire Boys Club.
Although Williams states that his music has no direct influences, he says that he was inspired by a big list of famous artists of many music genres, ranging from Michaels Jackson to David Bowie.
He has earned several Grammy awards and both as a solo artist and as a member of The Neptunes, and he has been nominated for two Academy Awards. He states that the music of the group A Tribe Called Quest was a turning point for his life, that it made him realize that music is a form of art.
Kanye West was born in Atlanta in 1977. He is a music and record producer, rapper and songwriter. Kanye’s career started as a music producer for Roc-A-Fella Records in the early 2000s and then he pursued a solo career as a rap artist.
While being a producer of Roc-A-Fella Records, he produced many hit singles for various artists and started making a name for himself in the music industry. He is the founder and CEO of the record label GOOD Music and he manages to successfully experiment with a wide variety of music styles.
Kanye West is one of the most acclaimed musicians ever, and he has managed to sell more than 32 million albums and 100 million digital downloads all over the world. He is one of the most awarded artists in the world, as he has won 21 Grammys.
Very often, he changes his music style, tries to apply different techniques, and approaches to his music productions. West states that many artists from various music genres inspire him and early in his career, he tried to pioneer a music production style that included pitched vocals from soul and funk songs, that were accompanied by drum loops that he created and a variety of different instruments.
Pete Rock’s real name is Peter Phillips and he was born in 1970. He is a music and record producer, DJ and rapper and the first half of the group Pete Rock & CL Smooth.
Although he did not manage to gain large amounts of mainstream success, with his career and music productions Pete Rock has earned the respect of hip hop fans worldwide. He is a key factor and one of the first beatmakers that emerged jazz elements into hip hop productions.
He is in almost every list about the best beatmakers, and he is widely recognized as one of the best beatmakers of all time, and one the main producers that made the East Coast worldwide recognizable.
Pete Rock’s beats are usually created using samples mostly taken from R&B, jazz and funk records from previous decades. Another significant element of his production is the sampling of breaks. He used to create his beats with the E-mu SP-1200 and later on, he moved on to use the MPC.
The basic elements of his beats are samples, which he cuts into smaller parts, tweaks their frequencies and creates different variations so that he can layer them into his productions. In addition to this, he created heavy drum loops by chopping drum breaks along with dry basslines.
J Dilla’s real name was James Dewitt Yancey. He was born in 1974 and passed away in 2006. He was a record producer and rapper who emerged from the underground scene of Detroit.
He is claimed to have been one the most influential beatmakers of the hip hop scene and worked with big names of the industry such as De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Bust Rhymes and more. Most producers that listened to his work, were impressed by the fact that he could produce such high quality music production with such limited tools and equipment.
In the mid 1990s, he create a large number of products for various artists, and managed to get the attention of many record labels. This made him known and put his name alongside the name of great hip hop producers at the time, although most of these productions were released without his name recognition.
The Alchemist’s real name is Daniel Alan Maman. He was born in 1977 and he is a music producer and rapper from Beverly Hills.
He attracted the attention of the hip hop scene as a close associate of Mobb Deep and The Dilated Peoples, and he managed to produce many significant track of well-known established artists, since the early 2000s.
His name appears to most of the lists about the best hip hop beatmakers, and he chooses to collaborate with a close group of friends such as Action Bronson, rather than expanding his artist range. He is known for producing entire albums of rap artists and solo instrumental albums.
Otis Jackson Jr. is the real name of the music producer, multi-instrumentalist and rapper Madlib. He was born in 1973 and he is one of the most respected, influential and creative beatmakers of the 2000s.
He has collaborated with a wide variety of different hip hop artists and has used a long list of different pseudonyms, and he has created many projects as a DJ, a music producer and a remixer.
Madlib comes from a music family and he has several times moved away from his hip hop roots experimenting with jazz and electronic music specters along with fellow musicians and bands or by using different names and alter egos or fictional musician characters.
As his music evolved, he started using session musician to enrich his music productions and add a more natural edge to his beats.
These are some of the most lucrative and creative music producers that have shaped today’s sound of hip hop and have inspired thousands of beatmakers around the world to start creating music.
Now it is your turn to work hard in order to become one of them!