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The Best Hip Hop Producers
5th February, 2020

Who Are The Best Hip Hop Producers of all time? Top 20 List

Hip-hop history began in the 1970s in the Bronx, New York City. But before there were studio-bound hip-hop producers; DJs such as Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash solely used Turntables to create loops, breaks, beats, and scratches.

Then, innovative samplers and drum machines such as the Roland TR-808, Fairlight CMI, E-MU SP-12, SP-1200, and Akai Pro MPC series revolutionised the way hip-hop producers made beats.

Today, hip-hop production has transcended the need for traditional samplers and studios. If you’ve got a laptop and a DAW, you’ve got everything you need to make a studio-quality track and join the ranks of worldwide influential producers in hip-hop music.

But who are the best hip-hop producers of all time? At the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal taste.

We’ve put together this list of 20 producers who we think are the best or have had the most influence on the genre and on most hip-hop fans, and prioritised those who truly transcended the musical scene and become more than just a producer but an icon.

We’re only just “scratching” the surface, and there are a lot of hip-hop producers unlucky not to make the cut. So let us know how this list compares to yours!

Best Hip Hop Producer of All Time: The top 20

20. DJ Muggs


  • Cypress Hill – Insane In The Brain
  • House of Pain – Jump Around
  • Ice Cube – Check Yo Self

What Puts Them Among the Best in Producers of all Time in Hip Hop

DJ Muggs is a Hip Hop producer renowned for his work with Cypress Hill & House of Pain. Plus, he’s contributed to several classic hits himself and with several hip-hop legends. His music style is known for combining the West Coast groove with an incredible amount of energy. Hence, his biggest hits include the wildly popular “Jump Around” and “Insane In The Brain”

Notable Artist Collaborations: Cypress Hill, House of Pain, Ice Cube, GZA, KRS-One

19. Madlib


  • MadVillain – Accordion
  • Freddie Gibbs – Fake Names
  • Quasimoto – Catchin’ The Vibe

What Puts Them Among the Best in Producers of all Time in Hip Hop

Madlib is one of the most prolific hip-hop producers of the 2000s. Renowned for going under a variety of pseudonyms when collaborating with other artists including Madvillain, Jaylib, MadGibbs, The Loop Digga, and many more. He’s also famous for creating the character/alter ego “Quasimoto”: Conceived after Madlib one day decided to rap on his own beats, speeding up the vocals to give it a unique twist!

Notable Artist Collaborations: Freddie Gibbs, Talib Kweli, J Dilla, MF Doom, Blu

18. Havoc


  • Mobb Deep – Shook Ones Pt: II
  • Mobb Deep – Survival Of The Fittest
  • Nas – Shoot ‘Em Up

What Puts Them Among the Best in Producers of all Time in Hip Hop

Havoc is one of the best Hip Hop producers and most notably, one half of the duo Mobb Deep. Along with Prodigy, Mobb Deep is renowned for a long list of classic hits. Regarding his style, Havoc was largely inspired by RZA and, as a result, his beats are hard-hitting and often stripped down and simple.

Notable Artist Collaborations: Nas, Eminem, Notorious B.I.G, Onyx, LL Cool J, Method Man, The Game

17. Rick Rubin


  • LL Cool J – I Need A Beat
  • Public Enemy – Public Enemy No. 1
  • Jay-Z – 99 Problems

What Puts Them Among the Best in Producers of all Time in Hip Hop

Renowned even among Hip Hop Producers as well as the founder of Def Jam Records; Rick Rubin would have to be one of the most influential names in the hip-hop world. His style is renowned for its “stripped-down” sound as well, keeping vocals raw over a beat with nothing much more than a classic drum break.

Notable Artist Collaborations: Run DMC, LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Jay-Z

16. Marley Marl


  • LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out
  • Roxanne Shante – Roxanne’s Revenge

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

One of hip hop’s original producers, Marley Marl deserves a place on this list. Responsible for producing some classic hits, as well as inspiring a plethora of young talent that would then become some of hip hop’s greats including RZA, Pete Rock, and DJ Premier.

Notable Artist Collaborations: Eric B & Rakim, Kool G Rap, LL Cool J, Juice Crew

15. Just Blaze


  • Kanye West & Lupe Fiasco – Touch The Sky
  • Ghostface Killah – The Champ
  • Jay-Z – The Blueprint Album

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

Just Blaze is an American hip-hop producer most known for his production work on Jay-Z’s albums “The Blueprint”, “The Blueprint 2”, and “The Black Album”. His sound is renowned for delivering hard-hitting, anthem-like tracks that are guaranteed to stand out on any album.

Notable Artist Collaborations: Talib Kweli, Eminem, Jay-Z, Royce Da 5’9, Saigon, Snoop Dogg, Ghostface Killah

14. The Alchemist


  • Nas – Book Of Rhymes
  • Prodigy – Keep it Thoro
  • Schoolboy Q – Break The Bank

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

The Alchemist is a hip-hop producer inspired by the sinister sound of Havoc and Mobb Deep. As a result, his beats often resemble a scene from a horror movie.

Although originating from the West Coast, his sound is comparable to east-coast boom-bap. He has produced several East Coast classics including Nas’ – Book of Rhymes.

Also worth noting, The Alchemist includes somewhat of a musical signature inserted in the majority of songs he produces. A distorted voice recording of rapper Prodigy usually at the start of a song sounds like “A-A-A-A-A-Alchemist.

Notable Artist Collaborations: Action Bronson, Mobb Deep, Freddie Gibbs, Schoolboy Q, Dilated Peoples, Roc Marciano, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Ghostface Killah

13. No I.D


  • Common – I Used to Love H.E.R
  • Jay – Z – All Around The World
  • Kanye West – Heartless

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

No I.D is a hip hop producer who started as the go-to beatmaker for Common. Best known for producing soulful tracks with an emotional punch, No I.D has a prolific discography. Producing tracks for names such as Beanie Siegel, Jay-Z, and G-Unit. As well as being coined as a mentor by Kanye West. He’s also the executive vice president of A&R for Def Jam Records.

12. Q-Tip


  • A Tribe Called Quest – Bonita Applebum
  • Nas – One Love
  • A Tribe Called Quest – Award Tour

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

Q-Tip is a hip-hop producer and founding member of A Tribe Called Quest. Emerging in the late 80s, ATCQ was renowned for its smooth, jazzy beats, often using groovy keyboard riffs and basslines that Q-Tip had sampled from jazz, funk, and classic records. Although all members of the Tribe contributed to their production, it’s widely acknowledged that Q-Tip was the leader and main driver within the group.

Notable Artist Collaborations: Nas, Mobb Deep, Janet Jackson, A Tribe Called Quest.

11. Large Professor


  • Main Source – Looking at the front door
  • Big L – Unexpected Flava
  • Nas – Halftime
  • Nas – It Aint Hard To Tell

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

Large Professor is an influential hip hop producer who was a member of the group Main Source; as well as the original mentor for Nas, featuring his very first released appearance on “Live at the BBQ”. Producing several tracks for Nas, Large Professor also worked with names such as Busta Rhymes, Big Daddy Kane, Masta Ace, & A Tribe Called Quest.

10. Ant of Atmosphere


  • Atmosphere – God Loves Ugly
  • Brother Ali – Uncle Sam Goddamn
  • Atmosphere – Puppets
  • Atmosphere – Yesterday

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

Ant is among the best hip-hop producers and one-half of the duo Atmosphere. Not to mention the man at the forefront of almost all hip-hop production coming out of Minneapolis. Producing 8 albums with Atmosphere, as well as being the go-to producer for Brother Ali, Felt (Slug & Murs), Sage Francis, and MF Doom. He’s a versatile hip-hop producer that has a sound for every style of track!

Notable Artist Collaborations: Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Felt, Sage Francis, MF Doom.

9. Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind


  • Jedi Mind Tricks – I Against I
  • Ill Bill & Jedi Mind Tricks – Heavy Metal Kings
  • Sean Price & Jedi Mind Tricks – Blood Runs Cold

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind is a hip-hop producer and member of the underground hip-hop group “Jedi Mind Tricks”. A lesser-known producer, Stoupe’s instrumentals are renowned for hard-hitting drums with an aggressive sound. Although only working with a few hip-hop artists outside the Jedi Mind Tricks group, Stoupe’s sound has inspired several upcoming hip-hop producers that take influence from his distinctive sound, including C-Lance.

Notable Artist Collaborations: Jedi Mind Tricks, Canib us, Guru, 7l & Esoteric, Virtuoso

8. Nujabes


  • Nujabes & Shing02 – Luv(sic) Part 1 – Part 6
  • CYNE & Nujabes – Feather
  • Nujabes – Aruarian Dance
  • Nujabes & Cise Starr – D.T.F.N

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

Nujabes was a Japanese hip-hop producer renowned for producing atmospheric, and jazz-infused hip-hop instrumentals. He collaborated with several fellow Japanese artists such as Uyama Hiroto, Shing02 and L-Universe.

As well as several American hip-hop artists including CYNE, CL Smooth, Funky DL, and Substantial. Since Nujabes death, we’ve seen countless tribute records released in the name of him. Inspiring a whole new style of jazz-inspired instrumentals, and sub-genres such as Jazz-Hop and LoFi.

Notable Artist Collaborations: YNE (Cise Starr & Akin, Funky DL, CL Smooth, Substantial, Shing02

7. Kanye West


  • Talib Kweli – Get By
  • Kanye West – Jesus Walks
  • Kanye West – Gold Digger
  • Jay Z – H.O.V.A
  • Rhianna – Run This Town

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

Through his hip-hop production, Kanye West has significantly influenced the hip-hop world over the years. Beginning by focusing on sped-up soul samples, he then experimented with orchestral strings, and electronic sounds, before going back to the roots of his original 808. Above all, Kanye West continues to push boundaries and reinvent Hip Hop. So although his personality may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no denying the influence his music has had on the genre.

Notable Artist Collaborations: Jay Z, Drake, Rhianna, Talib Kweli, Common, Mos Def, Slum Village

6. J Dilla


  • Slum Village – Reunion
  • Guru – Certified
  • Pharcyde – Runnin
  • Common – E=MC2
  • Slum Village – Let’s

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

J Dilla was a hip-hop producer and one-third of the group Slum Village. Another famous MPC user, J Dilla is renowned for producing smooth hip-hop beats that encompassed his original style. He was famous for pushing the boundaries of conventional instrumentals by doing things such as having the drums a little off time and speeding up the snares.

Resulting in an original sound that is immediately associated with J Dilla. Quest Love describes his style by saying, “If you could look at the glass and say it’s half-full or half-empty, Dilla would find a third way to look at it.”

Lying on his deathbed, J Dilla found a way to produce his “Donuts” album, which has since become a classic hip-hop masterpiece.

Notable Artist Collaborations: A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, Erykah Badu, The Roots, The Pharcyde, Madlib, Common.

5. RZA


  • Wu Tang Clan – Protect Ya Neck
  • GZA – Shadow Boxin
  • Wu Tang Clan – Triumph
  • GraveDiggaz – Gravel Pit
  • Earl Sweatshirt – Molasses

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

Rapper, producer, actor, and film director; RZA made his claim to fame as a hip-hop producer due to his role as the leader of the Wu-Tang Clan. Primarily relying on soul samples to form the basis for his rugged beats, RZA has produced much of the Wu-Tang Clan’s discography, as well as several projects for each member’s solo products. He’s also a founding member of The GraveDiggaz, pioneering the HorrorCore sub-genre.

Notable Artist Collaborations: Wu-Tang Clan (Method Man, GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon, Masta Killa, U-God, Cappadonna), GraveDiggaz, Kanye West, Earl Sweatshirt.

4. 9th Wonder

9th Wonder


  • Masta Ace – Good Ol Love
  • Jay Z – Threat
  • Sean Price – Heartburn

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

9th Wonder is a producer out of California who began his career as the producer for hip hop group Little Brother. His style prominently features hard-hitting drums and punchy snares. Usually layered over smooth and soulful samples from artists such as Al Green and Curtis Mayfield. He’s also a renowned user of both AKAI’s MPC and Image Line’s FL Studio.

Following the debut Little Brother release, 9th Wonder garnered even more attention after remixing Nas’ God’s Son album. As well as producing the track Threat on Jay-Z’s The Black Album. Since then, 9th Wonder has collaborated with several well-respected artists. He has also become a professor of the art form and lectured at several well-established universities across the US.

Notable Artist Collaborations: Murs, Talib Kweli, Sean Price, Erykah Badu, Jay Z, Buckshot, Jean Grae, Destiny’s Child, Mary J Blige, Masta Ace

3. Pete Rock

Pete Rock


  • Pete Rock & CL Smooth – They Reminisce Over You (TROY)
  • Nas – The World Is Yours
  • AZ – Gimme Yours
  • Rakim – The Saga Begins
  • Raekwon – Sneakers

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

DJ, Producer, and Rapper; Pete Rock rose to fame during the early ’90s as one half of the renowned Hip Hop Duo Pete Rock & CL Smooth. Like DJ Premier, Pete Rock is a producer who focuses primarily on samples to create original, jazz-influenced beats.

Again, he began production on the SP-1200 before later moving on to the Akai Pro MPC. Often layering several different samples to create something completely original within the one song as well as featuring gritty drums that leave the hiss and crackle of the vinyl intact. As a result, whenever you hear one of Pete Rock’s hip hop productions you know exactly who made the beat!

Although not reaching as much mainstream notoriety as the previous two, Pete Rock earns his spot on this list after producing key tracks on several iconic hip-hop albums. Including Illmatic, Doe or Die, and The 18th Letter.

Notable Artist Collaborations: CL Smooth, Nas, AZ, Rakim, Heavy D, Kanye West, Skyzoo, Smoke DZA, Camp Lo

2. Dr. Dre


  • Dr. Dre – Still Dre
  • Snoop Dogg – Nuthin’ But A G Thang
  • Eazy E – Boyz-n-the-hood
  • 2Pac – California Love
  • Eminem – My Name Is

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

Beginning his career as a DJ, and then a producer for the World Class Wreckin’ Cru; Dr. Dre rose to fame thanks to his work with gangsta rap group N.W.A.

Starting out using the SP-1200 and then moving to the MPC, sampling was a key element in Dr. Dre’s Hip Hop production where he paved the way for the popular West Coast, G-Funk Style, often consisting of multi-layered synthesisers, deep bass, and slow hypnotic-like grooves.

His debut album, The Chronic, became one of the most influential albums of the early 1990s, and since then he’s continued to churn out several straight classics with notable artists. As well as playing a major part in launching the careers of decorated artists such as Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and, more recently, Kendrick Lamar.

Notable Artist Collaborations: 2Pac, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent, The Game, Xzibit, Eazy E, The D.O.C, Nate Dogg, Kurupt.

1. DJ Premier


  • Nas – Nas Is Like
  • Royce Da 5’9 – Boom
  • Notorious B.I.G – Ten Crack Commandments
  • Mos Def – Mathematics
  • Gang Starr – Full Clip

What Puts Them Among the Best Producers of All Time in Hip Hop

Influenced by early pioneers such as Marley Marl and Jam Master Jay, DJ Premier epitomises the classic New York Sound. Renowned for his unmistakable East Coast boom-bap beats; DJ Premier’s production primarily consists of finely chopped-up samples of Jazz, Funk, and Soul songs.

As well as cutting & scratching in combinations of short vocal samples from other Hip Hop songs to create catchy new hooks. A famous user of the Akai Pro MPC, DJ Premier still uses the MPC as his instrument of choice for his production.

Half of the duo Gang Starr, DJ Premier and Guru had released several collaborations until Guru’s death in 2010 including the 1992 classic “Daily Operation”.

Aside from that, DJ Premier’s influence on the hip-hop genre is insurmountable. He worked with several respected artists in the industry and continues to have a legacy that grows today. Additionally, he was the main driving force of inspiration for several up-and-coming producers.

Notable Artist Collaborations: AZ, Big Daddy Kane, Big L, Common, Christina Aguilera, Jay-Z, Notorious BIG, Lord Finesse, Rakim, Royce 5’9, Mobb Deep, Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, Nas, DITC, Afu Ra, Jeru The Damaja, and many more!

The Final Say on the Best Hip Hop Producers of All Time

There you have it, our top 20 top hip-hop producers of all time.

Who do you think is the most influential producer with the most iconic beats in their track record?

Whose beat-making prowess did we miss?

Is there anyone else you think deserves a spot here on hip hop’s greatest and most influential producers?

Is there a producer whose iconic beats we’ve looked over?

Or maybe there are a few producers we’ve included that you think got lucky?

Be sure to let us know your thoughts on the best producers in hip-hop!

READ MORE: Best Australian DJs

By Jamie Larcombe

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