Thursday, May 8, 2008

4 underrated producers

4 Underrated Rap Producers
(in no particular order)

DJ Quik.

Q-u-i-k with no "c" came bustin into the game in 1991 via the classic Quik is the Name. And no, you still can't see him.

I remember getting in trouble in the 7th grade after wearing my flea market-bought DJ Quik t-shirt to school. I really was too cool for school. Get it? Laugh, dammit.

Quik gets love from Hip Hip folk, but not nearly the amount of recognition he should get. I read a review in Rolling Stone (I think) recently on Snoop's latest album and the writer said that Quik woulda been Dr. Dre if Dre hadn't existed. He's probably right. But I also wonder if Quik had been a New Yorker, if he would have the same kind of critical acclaim as Pete Rock, or maybe even Premier. Think about it. It woulda diversified his roster of emcees, for sure. And since mainstream rap media is so hesitant to give Cali emcees their due respect, it means Quik gets left out of a lot of discussions.

You have to believe that Quik has directly influenced countless producers-- from Dre himself on his some of his later records, to Daz, to Dilla, to Hi-Tek. Just listen to Little Brother's Hi-Tek produced "Step Ya Game Up" ... if that ain't a direct Quik influence I don't know what is.

Plus, anytime you have a rap producer that could easily drop a jazz album (I really wish he would go on and do that. He claimed he was going to around 2000...) you have a skilled musician that should be regarded as such.


When I was younger and would buy CDs, the first thing I would always do is rush and pull out the liner notes to check who produced the songs I thought were particularly dope. At the time, I was pretty much only exposed to west coast music, and the name that I frequently saw on my favorite tracks was Battlecat.

As I got a little bit older, I realized that dude actually had been around for a long time, and his sound expanded well beyond Cali and the mid-west. Remember Domino? That's early Battlecat production. Remember "We Can Freak It" by Kurupt? (This before Kurupt got bitter and started using the word "bitch" like commas)-- that's Battlecat. He produced a lot of tracks on the first Eastsidaz (Snoop, Tre D, Goldi Loc), which shouldn't go unrecognized because really, that's the album that gave Snoop back his credibility, with the west coast in particular after the No Limit move. Who knows, if it weren't for Battlecat, Snoop may not be a reality TV star as we speak, and that would indeed be tragic. He even did stuff from Ras Kass' revered, Soul On Ice.

Battlecat is also responsible for Talib Kweli's "Give Em Hell" ? (He co-produced the track with his multi-talented protege, Terrace Martin.) As well as — and this may be a stretch for some folk-- Mike's "Texas 2000". That track was so hard!

Point is, dude has been around for ages, yet his name somehow is always missing from "top producer" discussions. I don't get it. Anyways, pay homage to a seasoned vet.

Mike Dean.

I almost fell over and died when I heard he was a white dude. Not sayin I don't love my white producers, but damn. The soul, the syrupy bass lines (he plays bass), the organs-- all this from a white boy. Anyways, I quickly got over my momentary border-line racism and went right back to loving damn near every track this cat has ever made. He's pretty much been Scarface's personal (co)producer since forever and is responsible for more Rap-a-lot hits than I can name... that makes him a favorite of mine by default because ya'll know how I feel about Face and Texas' sound in general. Anyways, from Geto Boys, to Devin, to Daz (another underrated producer) this guy has made some bangers for a lot of cats. But again, I'm sure most of you are googling his name right now to find out who the hell I'm talkin' bout. Sad indeed.

T Mixx.

As Suave House's resident producer he helped establish the sound that the south was built on. And I ain't talking about that Lil Jon overly loud "crunk" shit (which actually came from T-Mixx's hometown, Memphis, but we'll get to that another day). He's arguably a pioneer for an entire sound-- and I don't get why his name isn't mentioned alongside the great producers who helped cultivate a sound that is still influential to this day. Plus, this guy is still relevvant.

Listen to the early Eightball & MJG albums, Ball's Lost, Scarface's the Fix- "What Can I Do," MC Ren and the list goes on and on. Cool & Dre, Jazzy Pha, even some of Organized Noize's stuff is likely influenced by this dude. I don't know about this for certain, but I wonder if him and Jazzy traded secrets together while they were both doing production for Suave artists (Jazzy did a few tracks on Tela's classic Piece of Mind including "Tired of Ballin" and "Sho'Nuff"). Wonder if that's why he eventually named his label Sho'nuff....? Anyhoo.

When Mannie Fresh left Cash Money, this is the guy they went and got to try to resurrect the funky sound that label was built on. That Wayne & Birdie album ya'll liked so much, T Mixx did all the bumpin shit on there. Anyways, dude is the truth.


CRUNKITE said...

I've always had a theory that Jazze Pha named his label Sho Nuff because of that record.

I've also heard stories that Jazze Pha nor T-Mixx actually produced that song, but a another Memphis based producer named Swizzo did.

crunkite said...

Oops.. I meant to say Slisce Tee not Swizzo was the alleged producer of "Sho Nuff"

jacinta said...

i wouldn't be surprised.... slisce t is the SHIT. and i know he was running in the same circles... so, i definitely wouldn't be surprised....

Senor Kaos said...

Maaan you Def tell you from the Westside with this list.