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The 20 Greatest Hip Hop Producer 5-Year Runs of All Time

In a culture that continually evolves and reinvents itself, the role of the hip hop producer has never been more vital. Crafting the sonic backbone of rap music, these visionaries have shaped the genre’s landscape, pushing its boundaries and defining its sound.

On this list, we pay homage for 20 of the greatest 5-year runs by a producer we’ve ever seen in hip hop. From the gritty, streetwise boom-bap of DJ Premier and the revolutionary fusion of R&B and rap by the legendary Trackmasters, to the atmospheric, trap-infused vibes of Metro Boomin, and the unparalleled creative force of RZA, these producers have sculpted the genre with their unique sonic fingerprints.

So let’s get into it. From Trackmasters and Mannie Fresh to The Neptunes and Erick Sermon, here are the 20 greatest hip hop producer 5-year runs of all time.

20. Trackmasters: 1994 – 1998

Production highlights: LL Cool J – Mr. Smith, Foxy Brown – Ill Na Na, Nas – It Was Written, Will Smith – Big Willie Style, The Notorious B.I.G. – “Juicy” / “Respect”, AZ – “Hey AZ”, Jay-Z – “Face Off”, Cam’ron – “Horse & Carriage”, N.O.R.E. – “N.O.R.E.”

Trackmasters, the dynamic duo of Poke & Tone, took the hip-hop world by storm during their phenomenal five-year run (1994-1998), creating iconic hits and collaborating with legendary artists. Their signature style fused catchy R&B melodies with gritty hip-hop beats, most evident in LL Cool J’s career-reviving Mr. Smith and Foxy Brown’s sultry yet streetwise Ill Na Na, which showcased the production duo’s seamless blending of R&B and rap. Trackmasters’ undeniable flair shone through Nas’ chart-topping It Was Written, elevating the Queensbridge rapper to new heights as they took his lyrical prowess and paired it with their polished production style. The result was an album that hugely expanded Nas’ commercial reach and also solidified him as one of the best rappers alive.

19. Metro Boomin: 2015 – 2019

Production highlights: Future – DS2, Drake & Future – What a Time to Be Alive, 21 Savage & Metro Boomin – Savage Mode, 21 Savage – Issa Album, 21 Savage, Offset & Metro Boomin – Without Warning, Big Sean & Metro Boomin – Double Or Nothing, Offset – Father of 4, Travis Scott – “Pornography” / “3500” / “Wasted” / “Nightcrawler” / “Ok Alright”, Pusha T – “Intro”, Kanye West – “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1”, Future – “Xanny Family” / “Low Life” / “Wicked”, Big Sean – “Bounce Back” / “Sacrifices”, Future – “Mask Off” / “Scrape”, Future – “My Collection” / “Sorry”, Gucci Mane – “Both”, Migos – “Bad and Boujee”, Kodak Black – “Tunnel Vision”, Post Malone – “Congratulations”, Gucci Mane – “I Get the Bag”

Metro Boomin’s epic 2015-2019 run saw him revolutionizing hip hop with his moody trap melodies and banging drums, crafting chart-toppers and defining a generation’s sound. Transforming Future’s DS2 into a trap classic, Metro continued his winning streak with Drake & Future’s What a Time to Be Alive and 21 Savage’s breakout tape Savage Mode. His star-studded Without Warning album and Big Sean’s Double Or Nothing continued to showcase his undeniable skills, while his Midas touch graced smash hits like Future’s “Mask Off,” Migos’ “Bad and Boujee,” Post Malone’s “Congratulations,” and Gucci Mane’s “I Get the Bag.”

18. Mannie Fresh: 1998 – 2002

Production highlights: Big Tymers – How You Luv That, Juvenile – 400 Degreez, B.G. – Chopper City in the Ghetto, Hot Boys – Guerrilla Warfare, Juvenile – Tha G-Code, Lil Wayne – Tha Block Is Hot, B.G. – Checkmate, Big Tymers – I Got That Work, Lil Wayne – Lights Out, Juvenile – Project English, Birdman – Birdman, Big Tymers – Hood Rich, Lil Wayne – 500 Degreez

One of the most influential producers of all time, Mannie Fresh’s iconic run from 1998 to 2002 witnessed him shaping the sound of Southern rap with his infectious bounce beats. As the in-house producer for Cash Money Records, he masterminded hits for the Big Tymers, Juvenile’s 400 Degreez, and B.G.’s Chopper City in the Ghetto. Mannie’s distinctive style laid the foundation for Lil Wayne’s early career, producing standout albums like Tha Block Is Hot and 500 Degreez, and his undeniable sound helped put New Orleans on the map.

17. J Dilla: 1995 – 1999

Production highlights: Slum Village – Fan-Tas-Tic (Vol. 1), Q-Tip – Amplified, The Pharcyde – “Runnin'” / “Bullshit” / “Splatittorium” / “Somethin’ That Means Somethin'” / “Drop” / “Y?”, A Tribe Called Quest – “1nce Again” / “Get a Hold” / “Keeping It Moving” / “Stressed Out” / “Word Play”, Busta Rhymes – “Keep It Movin'” / “Still Shining”, De La Soul – “Stakes Is High”, Keith Murray – “Dangerous Ground”, Busta Rhymes – “So Hardcore”, A Tribe Called Quest – “4 Moms” / “Against The World” / “Busta’s Lament” / “Da Booty” / “Find a Way” / “His Name Is Mutty Ranks” / “Start It Up” / “Steppin’ It Up”, The Roots – “Dynamite!”

Innovative and soulful, J Dilla’s late ’90s run redefined the landscape of underground hip-hop. Albums like Slum Village’s Fan-Tas-Tic (Vol. 1) and Q-Tip’s Amplified showcased his unique ear for producing innovative beats. Working his magic on tracks for The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest, and Busta Rhymes, Dilla’s production genius earned him a revered place in hip hop, and helped him bring out in the early 2000s.

16. Pete Rock: 1991 – 1995

Production highlights: Pete Rock & CL Smooth – All Souled Out, Pete Rock & CL Smooth – Mecca and the Soul Brother, Pete Rock & CL Smooth – The Main Ingredient, Public Enemy – “Shut ‘Em Down (Pe-te Rock Mixx)”, Main Source – “Vamos a Rapiar”, Heavy D & the Boyz – “Let It Rain” / “Don’t Curse” / “Cuz He’z Alwayz Around” / “Letter to the Future” / “Do Me, Do Me”, Run-D.M.C. – “Down with the King”, Nas – “The World Is Yours”, AZ – “Gimme Yours” / “Rather Unique”, House of Pain – “Jump Around (Pete Rock Remix)”, Jeru the Damaja – “You Can’t Stop the Prophet (Pete Rock Remix)”, Nas – “It Ain’t Hard to Tell (Pete Rock Remix)”, Naughty By Nature – “Hip-Hop Hooray (Pete Rock Remix)”

Jazz-infused and rich with soul, Pete Rock’s production during early to mid-90s solidified his status as one of the most in-demand beat-makers in the game. Collaborations with CL Smooth on Mecca and the Soul Brother and The Main Ingredient showcased his undeniable talent for breathing new life into classic samples, while his remixes for House of Pain, Jeru the Damaja, and Public Enemy blended blaring horns with his signature touch. Pete Rock’s run during this time laid the foundation for future producer greats like J Dilla and Kanye West.

15. The Neptunes: 2002 – 2006

Production highlights: Clipse – Lord Willin’, N.E.R.D. – Fly or Die, Clipse – Hell Hath No Fury, Busta Rhymes – “Pass the Courvoisier Part II”, Nelly – “Hot in Herre”, Scarface – “Someday”, LL Cool J – “Luv U Better”, Jay-Z – “Excuse Me Miss”, Birdman – “What Happened To That Boy”, Snoop Dogg – “From Tha Chuuuch To Da Palace” / “Beautiful”, Ludacris – “P-Poppin”, Jay-Z – “Change Clothes” / “Allure”, Jadakiss – “Hot Sauce To Go”, Talib Kweli – “Broken Glass”, Snoop Dogg – “Drop It Like It’s Hot” / “Let’s Get Blown” / “Signs”

Exploding onto the scene with genre-defying flair, The Neptunes’ era propelled hip hop into a futuristic dimension. The creative genius of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo unleashed an innovative sound, evident in their masterful work on Clipse’s gritty Lord Willin’, N.E.R.D.’s genre-fusing Fly or Die, and Snoop Dogg’s timeless “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Crafting unforgettable hits for heavyweights like Jay-Z, Ludacris, and LL Cool J, The Neptunes’ trailblazing approach helped them dominate the Billboard charts in back-to-back years, as they transcended the boundaries of hip hop and became kings of the pop world.

14. Erick Sermon: 1988 – 1992

Production highlights: EPMD – Strictly Business, EPMD – Unfinished Business, EPMD – Business as Usual, EPMD – Business Never Personal, Redman – Whut? Thee Album, K-Solo – “Spellbound”

In the late 80s and early 90s, Erick Sermon solidified his status as one of the most innovative producers in the game. While other beat-makers were mining James Brown vinyl for their samples, The Green-Eyed Bandit was digging into Zapp and Kool & the Gang crates to add that extra funk to EPMD’s music. His knack for blending hard-hitting rhythms with infectious funk elements shone through when working with Redman on his groundbreaking debut, Whut? Thee Album, and K-Solo’s captivating Spellbound, making Sermon an essential figure in the East Coast hip hop scene.

13. Madlib: 2014 – 2018

Production highlights: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata, MED, Blu & Madlib – Bad Neighbor, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana, Madlib – Sound Ancestors, The Professionals – The Professionals, Snoop Dogg – “Cadillacs”, Kanye West – “No More Parties in L.A.”, Anderson Paak – “The Waters”

An enigmatic figure in hip-hop, Madlib’s 2014-2018 stretch saw him effortlessly juggling a myriad of styles, from experimental to soulful to trap. His remarkable collaborations with Freddie Gibbs on the revered albums Piñata and Bandana showcased Madlib’s unparalleled ability to bring out the best in any artist. With projects like the genre-defying Sound Ancestors and high-profile collaborations with Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, and Anderson Paak, Madlib solidified his status as a visionary and risk-taking producer.

12. No I.D.: 2010 – 2014

Production highlights: Common – The Dreamer/The Believer, Common – Nobody’s Smiling, Drake – “Show Me A Good Time” / “Find Your Love”, Rick Ross – “Tears of Joy”, Kid Cudi – “Scott Mescudi vs. the World” / “REVOFEV” / “The Mood” / “Mr. Rager” / “GHOST!”, Kanye West – “Dark Fantasy” / “Gorgeous” / “So Appalled” / “See Me Now”, Killer Mike – “Ready Set Go”, Big Sean – “I Do It” / “My Last”, Jay-Z & Kanye West – “Primetime”, Nas – “Loco-Motive” / “Accident Murderers” / “Daughters” / “Back When” / “Stay”, Kanye West – “Black Skinhead” / “Bound 2”, Jay-Z – “Holy Grail”, Big Sean – “Control”, Pusha T – “Pain”

During his 2010-2014 reign, No I.D. demonstrated his Midas touch, producing for some of hip-hop’s most prominent artists, such as Common, Drake, and Kanye West. His signature soulful, sample-laden production brought tracks like “Dark Fantasy” and “Black Skinhead” to life, while collaborations with Nas and Pusha T proved his knack for crafting ageless, impactful anthems. No I.D.’s expert blending of old-school charm with contemporary flair made him one of the most sought-after producers of this period.

11. Q-Tip: 1991 – 1995

Production highlights: A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory, A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders, Diamond D – “K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)”, A Tribe Called Quest – “Scenario (Remix)”, Apache – “Gangsta Bitch”, Run-D.M.C. – “Come on Everybody”, Craig Mack – “Get Down (Q-Tip Remix)”, Nas – “One Love” / “The World Is Yours (Tip Mix)”, Mobb Deep – “Give Up the Goods (Just Step)” / “Temperature’s Rising” / “Drink Away the Pain (Situations)”

As the leading rapper and producer of A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip helped shape the jazz-infused, boom-bap vibe of hip-hop’s golden era. His masterful production on seminal albums like The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders set a new standard for introspective, intelligent rap. Branching outside of Tribe, Tip collaborated with artists such as Diamond D, Nas, and Mobb Deep, lending his signature crispy drums and mellow samples to their works. Without Q-Tip’s production during the ’90s, East Coast hip hop would be looking very different these days.

10. Marley Marl: 1987 – 1991

Production highlights: MC Shan – Down by Law, Big Daddy Kane – Long Live the Kane, Biz Markie – Goin’ Off, Marley Marl – In Control, Volume 1, MC Shan – Born to Be Wild, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Road to the Riches, Craig G – The Kingpin, Roxanne Shante – Bad Sister, Intelligent Hoodlum – Intelligent Hoodlum, Masta Ace – Take a Look Around, LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out, Craig G – Now, That’s More Like It, Marley Marl – In Control Volume II (For Your Steering Pleasure), Heavy D. & the Boyz – “The Overweight Lover’s In the House”, Big Daddy Kane – “Young, Gifted and Black” / “Rap Summary (Lean On Me) (Remix)”, MC Lyte – “Cappucino”

A pioneer in the art of sampling, Marley Marl’s peak as producer saw him redefine the sound of hip hop during its formative years. As the genius behind iconic albums like MC Shan’s Down by Law, Big Daddy Kane’s Long Live the Kane, and Biz Markie’s Goin’ Off, Marl’s inventive style became a template for future generations. Working with a diverse array of rappers, from LL Cool J to MC Lyte, Marley Marl’s pioneering techniques and adapability saw the Queensbridge producer continue his run well into the ’90s.

9. The Alchemist: 2017 – 2021

Production highlights: Fantasy Island (with Jay Worthy), The Good Book, Volume 2 (with Budgie), Paris, LA, Bruxelles (with Red Bull France), Moving Parts (with Lunice), Fetti (with Freddie Gibbs & Curren$y), The Alchemist – Yacht Rock 2, Layups (with The Cool Kids), Burnt Tree (with Evidence as Step Brothers), Lamb Over Rice (with Action Bronson), Boldface (with Boldy James), The Price of Tea in China (with Boldy James), LULU (with Conway the Machine), Alfredo (with Freddie Gibbs), Haram (with Armand Hammer), Bo Jackson (with Boldy James), Kendrick Lamar – “The Heart Part 4”, Kendrick Lamar – “FEAR.”, Westside Gunn – “Elizabeth” / “Brossface Brippler”, Benny the Butcher – “Rubber Bands & Weight” / “Broken Bottles” / “97 Hov” / “Fifty One”, Westside Gunn – “Sensational Sherri”, Eminem – “Step Dad”, Jay Electronica – “The Neverending Story”, Westside Gunn – “500 Dollar Ounces”, Conway the Machine – “Dough & Damani”, AZ – “Ritual”

The Alchemist’s golden five-year run from 2017-2021 is marked by two key aspects: his staggering output and the way he tailored his production style to suit each rapper he works with. His versatility is showcased through the diversity of full-album collaborations alone, from Jay Worthy, The Cool Kids and Evidence to Freddie Gibbs, Boldy James and Conway the Machine. Alchemist’s eclectic production palette, combined with his ability to elevate the artists he works with, has solidified his place as one of the most sought-after hip hop producers, and he’s still going hard to this day.

8. The Bomb Squad: 1987 – 1991

Production highlights: Public Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush the Show, Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet, Ice Cube – AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, Public Enemy – Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black, Slick Rick – “The Moment I Feared” / “Let’s Get Crazy” / “Teenage Love” / “Kit (What’s the Scoop)” / “Teacher, Teacher” / “Lick the Balls”, 3rd Bass – “Oval Office” / “Steppin’ to the A.M.”

The Bomb Squad’s groundbreaking 1987-1991 run left an indelible mark on hip-hop with their innovative and politically charged production. Working predominantly with Public Enemy, they crafted the dense, sonic landscape for classics like Yo! Bum Rush the Show, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and Fear of a Black Planet. The Bomb Squad also provided their signature dense, sample-heavy sound for Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, one of the greatest debut albums of the ’90s, and tracks for Slick Rick and 3rd Bass.

7. Just Blaze: 2000 – 2004

Production highlights: Beanie Sigel – “Who Want What”, Jay-Z – “Intro” / “Streets Is Talking” / “Stick 2 the Script” / “The R.O.C.” / “Soon You’ll Understand”, Memphis Bleek – “Intro – U Know Bleek” / “We Get Low” / “They’ll Never Play Me”, Beanie Sigel – “Get Down” / “Mom Praying”, Jadakiss – “It’s Time I See You”, Jay-Z – “Girls, Girls, Girls” / “U Don’t Know” / “Song Cry” / “Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)”, Fabolous – “Ma’ Be Easy”, State Property – “Roc The Mic”, Cam’ron – “Losing Weight pt. 2” / “Oh Boy” / “Welcome to New York City” / “The Roc (Just Fire)”, Jay-Z – “Hovi Baby” / “U Don’t Know (Remix)” / “Meet the Parents”, Erick Sermon – “React”, The Diplomats – “I Really Mean It” / “Built This City”, Freeway – “What We Do” / “Flipside” / “We Get Around”, Joe Budden – “Pump It Up”, Jay-Z – “December 4th” / “Public Service Announcement (Interlude)”, Talib Kweli – “Never Been In Love”, Fabolous – “Breathe”

Just Blaze’s reign during the 2000s saw him crafting anthemic, soulful hip hop beats that helped Roc-A-Fella dominate the competition. His work with Jay-Z on The Blueprint (“Girls, Girls, Girls,” “U Don’t Know,” and “Song Cry”) helped cement the album as one of the greatest hip hop releases of the 2000s, while also providing iconic, hard-hitting beats for the likes of Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek, Jadakiss, Fabolous, State Property, Cam’ron, The Diplomats, Freeway, and Joe Budden. Just’s consistent output of high-energy tracks made him the go-to producer for any rapper looking for a soulful anthem to add to their catalogue.

6. Dr. Dre: 1999 – 2003

Production highlights: Dr. Dre – 2001, Eminem – “My Name Is” / “Guilty Conscience”, “Role Model”, Snoop Dogg – “Bitch Please”, Kurupt – “Ho’s a Housewife”, Ice Cube – “Hello”, Eminem – “Kill You” / “Who Knew” / “The Real Slim Shady” / “I’m Back”, Xzibit – “X”, Eve – “Let Me Blow Ya Mind”, D12 – “Fight Music”, Mary J. Blige – “Family Affair”, Busta Rhymes – “Break Ya Neck”, DJ Quik – “Put It on Me”, Eminem – “Business” / “Say What You Say” / “My Dad’s Gone Crazy”, Jay-Z – “The Watcher 2”, 50 Cent – “In da Club” / “Heat” / “If I Can’t” / “Back Down”, Obie Trice – “The Set Up”, G-Unit – “Poppin’ Them Thangs”

After changing the game twice already over the course of his career (once with N.W.A. and another time with Death Row), Dre was back in the late ’90s with Aftermath Entertainment. The new era kicked off with the Compton producer at the helm of some of hip hop’s most iconic albums and tracks. Producing the bulk of his comeback album, 2001, and working with an array of artists, including Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Ice Cube, Xzibit, Eve, D12, Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes, DJ Quik, 50 Cent, Obie Trice, and G-Unit, Dr. Dre proved that there was no producer in history who could touch his commercial success, cultural impact, and prolific output.

5. Havoc: 1995 – 1999

Production highlights: Mobb Deep – The Infamous, Mobb Deep – Hell on Earth, Mobb Deep – Murda Muzik, Nas – “The Set Up” / “Live Ni**a Rap”, Foxy Brown – “The Promise”, The Notorious B.I.G. – “Last Day”, Cormega – “Thun & Kicko” / “Killaz Theme II”, Capone-N-Noreaga – “Illegal Life”, Method Man – “Play IV Keeps”, Nas – “Shoot ‘Em Up”

As one half of Mobb Deep, Havoc’s production from 1995-1999 was instrumental in crafting the dark, gritty soundscape of East Coast hip hop. Responsible for the production on Mobb Deep’s classic 3-album run: The Infamous, Hell on Earth, and Murda Muzik, Havoc’s style came to define the era of mid-90s New York grittiness. His work with Nas, Foxy Brown, The Notorious B.I.G., Cormega, Capone-N-Noreaga, and Method Man further showcased his ability to create menacing, atmospheric beats that perfectly complemented each rapper’s lyrical prowess.

4. Kanye West: 2004 – 2008

Production highlights: Kanye West – The College Dropout, Common – Be, Kanye West – Late Registration, Common – Finding Forever, Kanye West – Graduation, Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak, Twista – “Overnight Celebrity”, Jadakiss – “Gettin It In”, Slum Village – “Selfish”, Cam’ron – “Down and Out” / “Dipset Forever”, The Game – “Dreams”, Rhymefest – “Brand New”, Lupe Fiasco – “The Cool”, The Game – “Wouldn’t Get Far”, Jay-Z – “Do U Wanna Ride”, Nas – “Still Dreaming” / “Let There Be Light”, Consequence – “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” / “Grammy Family”, Lil Wayne – “Comfortable” / “Let the Beat Build”, T.I. – “Swagga Like Us”

Kanye West’s 2004-2008 production run was nothing short of groundbreaking, with his innovative use of soul samples and lush orchestration revolutionizing hip hop and ushering in a new era that would lay down the foundations for future rap greats like Drake and J. Cole. On his albums – The College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, and 808s & Heartbreak – Kanye consistently pushed the boundaries and evolved his production style with each release. Outside of his own work, the Chicago rapper-producer also produced some of your favourite rappers’ most iconic tracks – from Lil Wayne and T.I. to Common and Jadakiss – and helped elevate them to new heights.

3. DJ Premier: 1994 – 1998

Production highlights: Gang Starr – Hard to Earn, Jeru the Damaja – The Sun Rises in the East, Group Home – Livin’ Proof, Jeru the Damaja – Wrath of the Math, Gang Starr – Moment of Truth, Nas – “N.Y. State of Mind” / “Memory Lane (Sittin’ in da Park)” / “Represent”, Big Daddy Kane – “Show & Prove”, The Notorious B.I.G. – “Unbelievable”, KRS-One – “MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know”, Fat Joe – “The Shit Is Real (DJ Premier Remix)” / “Success (DJ Premier Remix)”, Jay-Z – “D’Evils” / “Friend or Foe” / “Bring It On”, Nas – “I Gave You Power”, M.O.P. – “Firing Squad” / “New Jack City” / “Stick to Ya Gunz” / “Brownsville”, The Notorious B.I.G. – “Kick in the Door” / “Ten Crack Commandments”, Jay-Z – “A Million and One Questions” / “Friend or Foe ’98”, Rakim – “It’s Been a Long Time” / “New York (Ya Out There)”, Jay-Z – “Hand It Down”

DJ Premier’s 1994-1998 run is widely regarded as one of the most iconic periods in hip hop production history. With his signature boom-bap sound, turntable wizardry and masterful use of samples, Premier helped shape the sound of the ’90s. His work on Gang Starr’s Hard to Earn, Moment of Truth, and projects with Jeru the Damaja, Group Home, Nas, Big Daddy Kane, The Notorious B.I.G., KRS-One, Fat Joe, and Jay-Z showcased his unparalleled consistency and ability to create timeless tracks.

2. Dr. Dre: 1988 – 1992

Production highlights: Eazy-E – Eazy-Duz-It, N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton, The D.O.C. – No One Can Do It Better, Above the Law – Livin’ Like Hustlers, N.W.A. – 100 Miles and Runnin’, N.W.A. – Ni**az4Life, Dr. Dre – The Chronic

Dr. Dre’s production career is so great, and spans so many years that we had to give him two slots on here. As a producer coming up in the ’80s, Dre was instrumental in defining the sound of West Coast hip hop during its formative years and ushering in the gangsta rap era. Over these five years alone, Dre was the key architect behind at least four certified classic albums, as well as countless great ones. If these albums were the only ones that we counted towards Dre’s production catalogue, he’d still be looked upon as one of the greatest hip hop producers of all time.

1. RZA: 1993 – 1997

Production highlights: Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Method Man – Tical, GZA – Liquid Swords, Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, Ghostface Killah – Ironman, Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever, Gravediggaz – “Graveyard Chamber” / “6 Feet Deep”, Cypress Hill – “Killa Hill Ni**as”, Method Man – “I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By (Razor Sharp Mix)”, AZ – “Doe Or Die (RZA Remix)”, The Notorious B.I.G. – “Long Kiss Goodnight”

RZA’s 1993-1997 production run with the Wu-Tang Clan is the single greatest 5-year run by a producer in hip hop history. With his raw, gritty, and experimental approach, RZA crafted the distinctive Wu-Tang sound on their seminal debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), and continued to evolve as a producer on subsequent Wu releases. From the dusty funk on Method Man’s Tical, deranged piano loops on Ol Dirty’s debut, to the chilling synths on GZA’s Liquid Swords and cinematic mafioso direction on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, the Abbott’s ability to subtly shift his production style to tailor each member is the key reason why he’s number one. Throw in his work for Biggie, Cypress Hill and Gravediggaz, and it’s very clear why RZA is one of the most reversed hip hop producers of all time.

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