Every rap fan has a favorite question: “Who are the greatest hip-hop producers?” Because the backing beat is what makes a rap song, it matters. These producers are often the key to a successful career.
This list, like our list of greatest rappers is not a contest for popularity. Old school beatmakers are not eligible for bonus points. Only skill level is important. It doesn’t matter who the pop star was, how many records sold, etc. This is based on pure musical talent.
Let’s start with the top ten hip-hop producers. Then I’ll share my thoughts on some runners up who might be able to take a spot in the top 10. Finally, I have a lot of honorable mentions that I need to quickly reel in because so many deserve at the very least a shout-out.
Pay attention to the artists they have collaborated with. Many of these artists are considered to be the best in their respective sub-genres. Because the elite require the best, you’ll see how many of them have been sought after by the most wealthy rappers in the. Let’s count down the top producers of all time…
#10 – RZA
TOP STRENGTH – SAMPLING AND TIME STRETCHING
RZA was the Wu-Tang Clan’s lead artist and producer. He went on to produce all their solo records. His work with Gravediggaz has made him a veteran in Horrorcore.
Since then, he has been improving his skills to the extent that he is now scoring TV shows and films as well as video games, including the Kill Bill movies, among others. His masterful selection of soul music and soundtracks to martial arts movies aided him in orchestrating.
Notable Credits: Wu-Tang Clan, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Jay-Z, Earl Sweatshirt, Kanye West, Notorious B.I.G., Gravediggaz, Busta Rhymes, Talib Kweli, and many more…
#9 – DJ Premier
TOP STRENGTH: NEW YORK STYLE
Preemo, also known as DJ Premier, is a master of East Coast sampling sounds mixed with old-school boom-bap. His favorite samples are soul, jazz, and funk with turntable scratching.
Preem started his career as a member of Gang Starr with Guru. He’s produced beats for top artists from all decades and has also been a mentor to many of the most prominent up-and-coming rappers. He is passionate about culture and will work with anyone who proves they are authentic.
Notable credits: Jay-Z and Mobb Deep with Nas, Royce da 5,9″, Mos Def, Notorious B.I.G. Gang Starr, AZ Big Daddy Kane. Common, Rakim. Snoop Dogg. Jeru Damaja, Slaughterhouse. Blaq Poet. Anderson.Paak. And many more…
#8 – Stoupe The Enemy of Mankind
TOP STRENGTH: OBSCURE TESTS
Although Stoupe The Enemy of Mankind may not be familiar to you, Jedi Mind Tricks is a group that he’s joining. He is a master at sampling and is quickly becoming Philadelphia’s go-to guy. You won’t recognize his choices, which range from classical music and ancient foreign songs.
His album for Canibus is a classic in the rap world. Canibus recorded the vocals first, acapella. Only then did Stoupe produce the beats that matched the concepts. Every detail Stoupe touches is amazing.
Notable Credits Ill Bill, Sean Price and Canibus are some of the credits.
#7 – The Alchemist
TOP STRENGTH: THE EAST COAST STYLE
The Alchemist, a West Coast producer turned East Coast production legend, is strangely from his hometown. His production is featured in many top hits over the years, but he has only recently started to tag his beats with a musical signature to make a bigger name for himself among his fan base.
His style is a classic East Coast style, with boom-bap drums often being the foundation for other interesting arrangements. Many artists have made him their go-to producer for singles and songs that support their albums.
Notable Credits – Nas. Prodigy. Schoolboy Q. Action Bronson. Dilated Peoples. Snoop Dogg. Ghostface Killah. Freddie Gibbs. Cypress Hill. Linkin Park. Fat Joe. Jadakiss. Eminem. Tyler the Creator. And many more…
#6 – Just Blaze
TOP STRENGTH: INNOVATION
Although Just Blaze is most well-known for his multi-album production with Jay-Z’s, he has also produced beats for many other artists that can’t be listed here. His talents have also extended to soundtrack composition for video games, which led to him being awarded the key to Paterson.
His instrumentals are hard-hitting and often used by artists who want to make a splash on the radio. Just Blaze is there to help rap break out of its creative ruts.
Notable Credits Kanye west, Ghostface Killah and Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco. Talib Kweli. Eminem. Royce da 5’9″ Saigon, Cam’ron. Snoop Dogg. Joe Budden. Fabolous. Jay Electronica. Drake.
#5 – The Medicine Men
TOP STRENGTH – SOUND SELECTION
You may be asking “Who?” The Medicine Men were once known as Beats By The Pound. This four-person beat production crew was responsible for No Limit Records’ incredible run. They produced some of the most intense southern beats you have ever heard.
Their instrumentals were unique because of the one-shots and sound fonts they used. They introduced a unique set of sounds that no one was used to hearing to the mainstream.
Notable credits: Master P, Silkk The Shocker, UGK.
#4 – Timbaland
TOP STRENGTH: THE THROWBACK SYNTH
Timbaland burst onto the scene quickly and had hit single after single for major artists. He was a unique artist in the past, but he reinvented his sound in 2010 to incorporate a lot more 80’s-influenced melodies and synth hits. It was history from there as he firmly occupied the top 10.
Rarely do producers have a unique style that has taken them to the top. Timbaland, despite being on this list, is the only one who has carved his own niche. His instrumentals were at least half the songs that you heard on the radio for a time.
Notable Credits – Ginuwine. Aaliyah. Missy Elliot. Jay-Z. Bubba Sparxxx. Justin Timberlake. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent. 50. Cent. 50 Cent. 50 Cent.
#3 – Rick Rubin
TOP STRENGTH: 80’S BOOM-BAP
A Rick Rubin instrumental is now a guaranteed hit. Rubin is a pioneer in hip-hop. He founded Def Jam Records, and has produced some of the most memorable beats of the 1980’s and the present era.
Most people are familiar with semi-recent songs such as Jay-Z’s ’99 Problems’ and Eminem ‘Bezerk’, or older ones like Public Enemy ‘Public Enemy No. 1.” Rubin has done all of that. You can hit singles over and again. His style is still 1980’s boom-bap, complete with 808 drums. There’s no need to change when everyone else is doing it.
Notable credits: Run DMC. LL Cool J. Public Enemy. Jay-Z. Beastie Boys. Red Hot Chili Peppers. Geto Boys. Sir Mix-a-Lot. Limp Bizkit. Lil Jon. Linkin Park. Kanye West. Wu-Tang Clan. And many more…
#2 – Kanye West
TOP STRENGTH – MIDWEST STYLE AND FLIPPING SAMPLES
Kanye West worked hard and connected his way up to the top, both as a producer and as a rapper. He was a solid player in the industry thanks to his work with Jay-Z, and other Roc-A-Fella Records musicians. Although his style is a classic Midwesterner, it’s his smart use of samples that sets him apart. He credits the RZA for his influence.
Although Kanye didn’t rap over his beats until late, it was a rare feat. It is easy to identify the producer of his music by listening to it on other artists’ tracks. This is what it means that you are a great.
Notable credits: Jay-Z and Rihanna, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Jay-Z and Drake, Common, Mos Def. Slum Village Alicia Keys. Twista, Twista, Lil Wayne. Jermaine dupri. Scarface, Trina. Ludacris. Rhymefest. Paul Wall. T-Pain. T.I., Kid Cudi.
#1 – Dr. Dre
TOP STRENGTH: WESTCOAST STYLE
Dr. Dre is one of the most successful producers. His style began as G-Funk and quickly evolved into gangsta rap. He also continued to evolve with West Coast artists such as Xzibit or The Game.
He is under so much pressure to keep the game changing that his next album was scrapped many times. It’s likely that it will never see the light. The best tracks from each album are released as singles.
Notable credits: Dr. Dre., Snoop Dogg., Eazy E., 2Pac., Eminem. Kendrick Lamar. 50 Cent. The Game, The D.O.C. Nate Dogg. Tha Dogg Pound. G-Unit. D12, Above the Law. Busta Rhymes. Warren G. Young Buck. And tons more…
Runners up: Who is almost a best producer?
Although the competition is getting more fierce for the top hip-hop producers, a few well-known rap producers are close to taking over from the more traditional beat makers. These are the possibilities that are on the horizon:
TOP STRENGTH: HIGH ENRGY & SOUTHERN TYLE
Mannie Fresh’s ten-year-long run with Cash Money Records, and his time as a member the Big Tymers were enough to propel him up the charts. Cash Money Records was like No Limit Records. He was the one who dominated the rap scene for a time and was the one behind the majority of the beats.
Some of his former label mates, including Lil Wayne, are still with him. His work has expanded to include a variety of artists, many of which are still from the south. This is exactly what his style is all about.
Notable Credits: Juvenile, B.G. Hot Boys, Big Tymers Lil Wayne, T.I. and T-Pain. Juvenile, B.G.
TOP STRENGTH – POP HITS
Scott Storch started his career as a keyboard player with the Roots. His skills as a pianist were quickly noticed by other artists. He played the piano in “Still D.R.E.” The rest is history, as Dr. Dre beat him. Terror Squad’s “Lean Back” was his first hit.
Storch took a break for personal reasons but is back on top and climbing the charts. He can easily climb to the top of this list with enough evolution and time. His music is what I would call “club music”, which unfortunately never goes out-of-fashion.
Notable Credits The Roots and Dr. Dre. Xzibit. WC, Ja Rule. 50 Cent. Chamillionaire. DMX. Remy Ma. Ice Cube. The Game, Birdman. Gucci Mane. Big Boi. Shaggy. T.I.
TOP STRENGTH: MUSIC THEORY
Seven is a major player in the underground music scene. He got his first major break by landing an instrumental on Tech N9ne’s album. After that, he was brought in-house to take care of all the Strange Music needs.
His style demonstrates a willingness to use more music theory, orchestration and arrangement skills than any other producer. His progressive style reminds me of beats from the Las Vegas area.
Notable Credits Tech N9ne. Mac Lethal. Krizz Kaliko. Prozak. Brotha Lynch. Hung. Stevie Stone. Ces Cru. Wrekonize. Rittz. Murs. JL. Twiztid. Insane Clown. Mayday. Ubiquitous. The R.O.C. and many other…
TOP STRENGTH: ORCHESTRATION
Like Seven, Stu Bangas is a major figure in the underground scene, mainly around Philadelphia. His sound features heavy sub-bass and hard drums with a lot high frequency synthesizer use. The vocals are left open to him, resulting in very clear mixes.
His style has changed a lot, and he now has a wide range of sounds that he can use. My favorite styles are his dark beats, and his street style that is inspired by the 70’s. His style is also being appreciated by other artists.
Notable credits: Esoteric. Blacastan. Ill Bill. Vinnie Paz. Apathy. Sean Price. Army of the Pharaohs. Cappadonna. Chino XL. Reef the Lost Cause. Blaq Poet. Rite Hook. Heltah Sketah. Copywrite. And many more…
Honorable Mentions for The Best Producers of All Time
There are many talented hip-hop producers. Although we cannot list them all, we can quickly mention a few that are worth mentioning. These are just a few:
- J Dilla, Jay Dee, worked with artists such as A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. He was one of the most important producers in the game, and he died in 2006.
- The Neptunes Names you may recognize are Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, who ruled between 1990 and 2010. They are now in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. https://af0d7373caf654358f7d5233f7e561da.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
- Pete Rock has produced singles for classic artists such as Pete Rock & CL Smooth and Gang Starr, Heavy D & the Boyz. Kid ‘n play, EPMD, Doug E. Fresh and many other old-school hitters.
- No I.D. has been best known for his work alongside Common, but he is still a top producer of Jay-Z’s latest hits songs.
- Jermaine dupri has been releasing hit singles for artists such as Usher, Mase and many others since 1997. For decades, he was the heart and soul of Atlanta’s music scene.
- Swizz Beatz started producing music for artists such as DMX or Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. He has been dominating since 1988, and may deserve a spot in the top 10.
- ElP is an old hand in the New York music scene. He has produced for artists such as Aesop, Cage and Murs, Jedi Mind Tricks and others. He’s been a major rapper in Run the Jewels with Big Mike.
- Metro Boomin is a master at trap and Atlanta beat production. Many of the current hits he’s responsible for include those by Drake, Post Malone and Big Sean.
- Bangladesh has been producing hits for over 20 years for artists such as 8 Ball & MJG and Ludacris. His music is so diverse it’s hard to describe.
- J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League is a Grammy-winning duo from Florida. They are a band you have heard before.
- Lex Luger for the extremely hard and hype beats he used by Rick Ross, Ace Hood and Wale.
- Madlib collaborated with MF DOOM and J Dilla. He was born into a musical family and is well-known for his work as a rapper and DJ.
This is a highly competitive industry, so it takes business acumen, musical talent, and creativity to get up the ranks. Even honorable mentions can be better than most people could hope. Over the next few years, the list of top hip-hop producers will be updated but not significantly. Kanye is the latest shake-up and it could happen again.
Top 10 Hip-Hop Producers Of All Time
This table lists the top 10 most influential hip-hop producers. It includes their names and highest strength.
|1||Dr. Dre||West Coast Style|
|2||Kanye West||Midwest Style and Flipping Examples|
|3||Rick Rubin||80’s Boom-Bap|
|5||The Medicine Men||Sound Selection|
|7||The Alchemist||East Coast Style|
|8||Stoupe the Enemy Of Mankind||Obscure Samples|
|9||DJ Premier||New York Style|
|10||RZA||Sampling and Time Stretching|