You can’t have a site about making music and not talk about the best producers of all time. However, this list is definitely different. We are not counting the number of hits a producer has made, but the overall impact they’ve had on the rap game and overall culture of urban music today.
To keep things organized, we’ve decided these rap music gods in two simple categories.
Icons and Legends.
What is an Icon?
Icons are people who took it to the next level and ain’t nobody touching them. Think Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Dominik Hasek (2 points if you know who this guy is), etc. They are usually just a handful or less, in any genre or field. They also have a longevity factor which is totally unheard of in the rap game. Basically, they are gods on earth.
What defines a legend?
Then we have the legends. Who play an incredible role year after year in taking the genre itself to the next level.
It’s not like one is better than the other but we need both.
This division will make it easy to digest what I want to share with you here. After all it’s just our perception.
So without further a due, let’s have a look at the best rap music producers of all time.
Starting with the icons, Dr. Dre and Rhythum D.
Years of Impact: Mid 1980s to mid 2000s.
Of course there is nobody who even comes close to as a producer than Dr. Dre. He literally laid the foundation of modern rap music by bringing ‘gangsta’ rap into the mainstream through Deathrow Records.
When you have the best producer in the world, you are bound to become the #1 record label in the country and that’s what Dr. Dre did for Deathrow. Anybody who can use a ukulele and create a multi-platinum hit (Still D.R.E), is a boss at life.
Not only that, Dre is responsible for countless rap legends today like Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent. Dr. Dre is hands down the greatest rap producer of all time.
Did you know that Dr.Dre has been in the studio for literally his entire life? In one of this interviews, he said once he started making professional music, he only missed like 3 or 4 days. Otherwise, you would see him in the studio recording and perfecting his craft.
Talk about dedication. Talent is one thing but work ethic is definitely more necessary.
These days, Dr. Dre is enjoying the massive success of his line of commercial headphones (Beats By Dre) not to be confused with home recording headphones, which have made him one of the most financially lucrative producers of all time. Almost a billionaire to be exact.
Years Of Impact: 1989 – 2008
There wouldn’t be no Gangstarr if it wasn’t for DJ Premier. Yup I said it. Definitely one of the best hip hop producers of all time.
DJ Premier has worked with Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and the list literally goes on. We had to put DJ Premier here because he helped rap music go mainstream as well by working with Christina Aguilera and even Limp Bizkit.
These days he has his own successful radio show and a bunch of other related projects.
Years of Impact: 1992 – 1994
When Dr.Dre was running death row, Rhythm D was producing for Ruthless Records, Eazy E’s record company.
You can’t be in Dr. Dre’s league if you’re not a icon yourself. Rhythm D was holding down ruthless strong and not only that, he was actually suppose to sign up with Deathrow records originally.
However, as fate would have it, Rhythm D ended up working for Ruthless records and lit that place and the music world on fire as a producer.
He made one of my favorite beats of all time, Real Compton City Gz. That is the most gangsta anthem of all time. He also has a cameo in the video as well. Dude looks like he’s related to the famous rapper Canibus.
Did you know that it was Rhythm D who produced Paperboy’s – Ditty track (Before he got with Ruthless)?
I don’t expect you to know who Paperboy is or the track Ditty but when you give it a listen, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s one of those tracks where you don’t know the artist or the name of the track but you know the joint is famous.
Here is Rhythm D dropping some serious gems about the music production business and more.
PS: Although he’s very well respected and well connected in the industry, we wanted to throw some limelight at him. Rhythm D might not be one of the famous rap producers but definitely one of the best rap producers ever.
Years of Impact: 1992 – 2015
When we think of P Diddy, we think of CEO, or a big time baller. Which of course he is but we forget that he is one hell of a producer. In fact, it was him all alone who brought hip hop to the mainstream. AKA, when white kids started listening to rap in high schools.
Did you know know he produced one of the biggest albums of all time called ‘Ready To Die’ by the one an only Notorious BIG?
Exactly, bow down!
Puff Daddy started his producer career with Mary J Blige and since than, he’s produced countless hits. He even worked with Britney Spears! My personal favorite was The L.O.X album.
Rap music wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for Puff and that’s why he’s on this list. One of the greatest of all time.
Years of Impact: 1992 – 2015
There are some incredible producers from the South that we mention later but as far as legendary status goes, Juicy J takes it all. Juicy J with Three 6 Mafia opened the doors for a lot of rappers from the South. In fact, it was Juicy J with Three 6 Mafia that put the entire South on the map for the first time ever.
After his incredible success with Three 6 Mafia and a few bangers later like ‘Get Crunked Up’ , ‘Chicken Head’ and many more, Juicy J even started his own rapping career.
Juicy J raps and produces and he’s is a legend because if it wasn’t for him, the South wouldn’t have made it when they did.
Years of Impact: 1984 – 1996
Another unsung hero of the Gangsta rap era and a true pioneer is DJ Yella. He produced the legendary album ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and later transitioned into a producer at Ruthless Records.
DJ Yella is the man behind Boys In The Hood (The G Mix remix of that track is INSANE!) and tons of other tracks. Besides all that, he was the founding member of the legendary group called N.W.A.
There are also reports and tracks where DJ Yella and Dr. Dre worked in the studio together. Witnesses say that it was like watching to masters work completely nsync with each other’s workflow.
Can you imagine being a fly on the wall in that room?
Did you know he was the only NWA member who showed up for Eazy E’s funeral?
I ain’t judging nobody but yeah that’s a fact.
Years of impact: 1996 to 2006
In the late 90s and early 2000s, Timbaland changed the rap game with his own unique style of beat making.
His unconventional style of using real life sounds (He once made a beat out of coins and a paper cup) and turning it into a hit over and over again is what makes Timbaland one of the best producers of all time.
Not to mention he helped rap music cross over to pop music by working with Justin Timberlake and tons of other non urban artists. One of the few handful of rap producers who pulled this feat in the 90s.
It seems like Timbaland is also planning a comeback as he is looking to re-unite with Justin Timberlake and he is setting something up with present day artists like Trippie Redd. I think he should ditch the Justin Timberlake idea and work with new artists only. Trippie Redd might be a good start.
Most of y’all don’t know this but what put Timbaland on the map was Ginuwine’s ‘The Bachelor’ album. Yup it was him who produced it. He had that new sound from the beginning.
Years of impact: 1998 – 2011
The man who introduced us to DMX and put the east coast sound on the map.
Swiss Beatz is nothing short of a genius considering he doesn’t even know how to play the piano but he consistently put out hits like nobody’s business.
When it came to making bangers, Swizz Beatz was the guy rappers ran to. Similar to Metro Boomin today.
Swiss these days is spending time with his family (He’s married to singer Alicia Keys) and looks like he’s still cooking some music in the studio for us.
Let’s wait and see what happens. Stay blessed Swizz.
Year of impact: 1998
The other half of the Pete Rock and CL Smooth crew, Pete Rock made that one beat . . . that earned him the title of one of the best producers of all time.
A beat that to this day, rocks you emotionally like nothing else. I’m of course talking about T.R.O.Y which stands for ‘They reminisce over you’. Pete Rock is more than a legend, he’s a icon in the rap producing game.
Years of impact: 1998
He made hits for Jay Z on albums like The Blueprint, The Blueprint 2 (Considered the best albums by Jay Z ever!) and a whole bunch of other rappers on the Roc-A-Fella label. In fact, Juszt Blaze was their main producer put their entire roster on the map (Memphis Bleek, Freeway and even Mariah Carey).
Just Blaze has also worked with Eminem and in the early to mid 2000s, he played a key role in bringing hip hop and rap music to the mainstream crowd. These days, he’s doing different things even spinning house music as a DJ.
Most people don’t know this but it was actually African Americans that gave birth to house music as well. Actually all of music if you think about it.
Years of impact: 1998 – 2006
Pharell exploded on the game with Noreaga’s Superthug. Probably one of the hottest track ever made. Back then he was known as N.E.R.D which stood for no one ever really dies (What can I say, dude was ahead of everybody from the beginning).
The first time ‘Superthug’ came on the scene it single handedly changed the sound of that era and that sound belonged to Pharell.
Soon Pharell dropped grindin with The Clipse (Pusha T’s original group) and his status as a rap legend was secured.
This was Pharell’s intro to the game and he never looked back. His impact in the rap game and pop music genre can’t be denied. One of the best producers in music period.
These days he’s still producing with popular rap and pop artists. Most recently it was the Migos. As far as longevity goes, nobody touches Dr.Dre and Pharell.
Years of impact: 1998 – 2006
Believe it or not, I’ve never been that big of a fan of Kanye West as a rapper but as a producer, you really need to Google his discography. He’s done some tremendous work but it’s not the length of his body of work but the effect it has had on music fans worldwide.
Kanye West introduced a new style of music. Including his rapping style. For example, these days (2018) the popular style is ‘mumble’ rap.
Kanye singlehandedly took rap music production to a completely different place. Using samples yet still keeping that modern touch of that era he was producing in (Mid 2000s). Some of his work is literally pieces of audio and visual art.
At the moment, Kayne West is doing the 2nd best he does best. Speaking his mind and causing controversies.
Years Of Impact: 2010 – 2011
The sound that you hear today (Trap music) was mostly shaped by Lex Luger.
He busted on the seen when rapper Waka Flaka came to fame. He’s work with all the big boys including ASAP Rocky.
Lex can be considered the grandfather of the trap sound we hear today. No doubt. After Ikaru of Roland (Man who invented 808s), Lex is the one who re-invented it. Absolute genius producer.
Years Of Impact: 2011 – 2017
After Lex, came the only and only Zaytoven. This Atlanta producer was actually born in Germany. Talk about talent, dude won his first grammy after working with his first artist . . . Usher.
Zaytoven than eventually got involved with Gucci Mane, Future and as they say, the rest is history. In fact, Zatoven played a key role in helping Migos get to where they are today. Thanks to their super hit song ‘Versace’.
Today he’s working on releasing some mixtapes and on his own album as well.
Years Of Impact: 2013 – Present
He is the guy in 2018 who had the most bangers. Metro actually wanted to be a rapper himself back in high school but decided to just stick with producing beats. Wise decision as he literally ran the producing game in 2018. His simple melodies combined with massive 808s set a new standard in the rap and now pop music world.
He also started grinding at an early age (When he was only in the 11 grade) as him and his mom use to visit various artists in their recording studios.
It’s during these meetings with OJ the Juiceman that intoduced him to Gucci Mane and here we are.
Meto Boomin is already a living legend and he is not even 25 yet. If Dr. Dre is the ‘Pele’ of rap music producers than Metro is ‘Messi’.
Don’t you just love my comparisons?
Underrated And Never Faded
This section is a real special one.
When people talk about Michael Jordan, they forget the Magic Johnsons, the Larry Birds and the Scottie Pippens.
Or in another words, the ‘other’ great players.
Here are we mention those incredible beat makers who played their part in taking the rap game to where it is today.
After all, at RITC we’re all about music and believe that every producer here was just as essential as the next one.
There impact might not have been as large as the greatest of all time we mentioned earlier but it was necessary nonetheless.
At the end of the day, if you uncover some new dope music because of this list, than our job is done.
Enjoy discovering other legendary rap music producers and some fun information about them as well.
They say that only one record can change your life. Well J Swift was the mastermind behind the beat ‘Passing me by’ by Pharcyde. If this beat doesn’t do it for you, you probably don’t have a pulse.