23
Apr
12

I ♥ Tuesdays Vol. 12

I really do… But this week, I feel like I’m getting no love in return. Take a look at the release schedule, and after you spit out the vomit in your mouth, shake your head with me. That’s right, just like that. Am I really expected to be jazzed about a Planet Asia record at this point in his career? Sha Stimuli had my ear for a minute, but is anybody looking out for dude these days? Last week’s Future mixtape has caught some buzz, but after one listen, that shitbecame a coaster got deleted; I still haven’t figured out what the kid brings to the table that so many find appealing.

So in my continuing quest to keep positivty afloat in this torrid sea of hate, I’m going to use this space to take a look back at those producers who ran things in 2011. As a focus on lyrical content has fallen by the wayside for so many, the value of a memorable beat has increased substantially, particularly in creating a hit radio record. Still, I’m not basing my ranking here solely on visibility, but also on a grip of other criteria I use personally when evaluating production: originality, versatility, replayability, and the ability to stand-up in instrumental form. Here is a list of the beat makers who, in the view of Your Humble Narrator, brought the most – and best – noise in 2011, and whose sonic landscapes I look most forward to hearing as we enter 2012. Without further ado…

The Best Producers of 2011

5. Statik Selektah

Massachusetts’ finest is no newcomer to the scene, and one look at his staggering Wiki wrap sheet proves few can match Statik’s productivity over the past few years. So what changed in 2011? While Selektah’s production has always appealed to a certain, dare-I-say backpack crowd, there wasn’t much that distinguished his production from other boom-bap, Golden Age throwbacks. This year, though, Statik got much bolder with his sample selection and drum breaks, particularly on Well-Done, a full-length collaboration with Action Bronson that gets heavy consideration for “Best of 2011” in my books. Here’s hoping Statik can continue to expand his catalogue and solidify his reputation as one of The East’s most reliable beat makers.

Peep Game: Action Bronson – “Cirque Du Soleil,” Action Bronson – “Not Enough Words,” Action Bronson – “The Rainmaker,” Freddie Gibbs – “Keep It Warm For Ya,” Big K.R.I.T. & Freddie Gibbs – “Play the Game”

4. Hit-Boy

Let’s not front: Hit-Boy deserves a spot on this list based on the strength of The Throne’s mega-smash alone. Having crafted the beat for the near-unanimous “Single of the Year” selection (and having everyone and their mother try their hand on the beat) is a nice feather in young’n’s cap, but “Niggas in Paris” wasn’t the only move Hit-Boy made in 2011. As an original member of The Surf Club, young Chauncey saved some of his more audacious productions for new school Cali kids to pleasant results, and after inking a deal with Yeezy and G.O.O.D. Music half way through the year, Hit-Boy was being called on by everyone from Kelly Rowland to The Jonas Brothers to help them maneuver their way onto the charts. After the success of 2011, it appears as though Mr. Hollis knew exactly what he was doing when he selected his production alias.

Peep Game: Casey Veggies – “I Be Over Shit,” Pusha T – “My God,” Dom Kennedy, Casey Veggies & cARTer – “CDC,” Smoke DZA & Kendrick Lamar – “Uptown 81,” The Throne – “Niggas in Paris”

3. Black Milk

Since the 2006 passing ofGodthe great James Yancey, Detroit has been searching for a producer that epitomizes the Motown sound the way Dilla had for so long. There was a period when Black Milk tried to fill those shoes by emulating – damn near replicating – Dilla’s signature sound. But for the most part, it seemed like biting rather than homage. Over the past two years, climaxing with a pair of full-length collaboration projects in 2011, Milk has really honed his skills and come into his own as a producer, regularly crafting creative, drum-heavy soundscapes for The Dee’s best rising emcees. Both the Random Axe project (with Sean Price and Guilty Simpson) and Black and Brown alongside Danny Brown featured near-flawless production and helped establish a refreshing new Detroit sound that would undoubtedly make Mr. Yancey proud.

Peep Game: Danny Brown – “Dada,” Danny Brown – “Wake Up,” Random Axe – “Random Call,” Random Axe – “The Karate Kid,” Slaughterhouse – “Everybody Down”

2. Cardo

When Wiz Khalifa dropped the Kush & OJ mixtape in April 2010 and redefined the Smoker’s Anthem for a new generation, he did so largely on the shoulders of Cardo’s lush, spacey production. In 2011, Cardo used his synthed-out strings and popping cowbell to firmly establish his position as hip-hop’s go-to-guy for the ever-present Buddah Banger. Though his Dallas, Texas roots shine through on several tracks, Cardo’s beats regularly sound like a new-age take on G-Funk; one listen to the stream of beats on Cardo’s SoundClick page and it’s no surprise dude names DJ Quik as one of his major influences. And no one in the production game has mastered the art of The Drop quite like Cardo, as evidenced on nearly every beat he put out in 2011. As we move into 2012, the new generation of emcees seems primed to rely heavily on Cardo, and with a full slate of work already planned for upcoming months, you’d be well-served to stash some of that turtle away for the next time Cardo is on the beat.

Peep Game: Phil Ade & Casey Veggies – “Paper Over Pussy,” Sir Michael Rocks – “Wassup,” Tris J – “Rack Up,” Wiz Khalifa – “California,” Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y & Big Sean – “Proceed”

1. Clams Casino

No other producer helped define 2011’s major new movements quite like Clams Rothstein. The rise of “cloud rap” can be largely attributed to Clams’ dark, ghostly beats, as deep and layered as they are banging in the traditional sense. And to think that Clams made his imprint on the game as an associate of a cast of sub-par “emcees” (Mac Miller, Lil B, Soulja Boy, Deezy D, to name a few). Clams first popped up on the Pitchfork/hipster radar in March when he dropped his incredibly diverse batch of Instrumentals, but it wasn’t until LiveLoveA$AP dropped in October that heads truly recognized the potential value of a beat from Clammy Clams. Now that he has used his stellar 2011 body of work to steal some of the spotlight from bigger-name beatmakers, look for a steady stream of emcees to call on Clams for work in the upcoming months. I, for one, can’t wait to hear the results of his work with a more talented collection of artists.

Peep Game: ASAP Rocky – “Wassup,” ASAP Rocky – “Palace,” Deezy D – “She’s Hot,” Lil B – “Motivation,” Main Attraktionz & ASAP Rocky – “Take 1”

Also receiving consideration:

The Alchemist

Few producers were more consistent through the past decade than The Alchemist and he continued to bolster his reputation in 2011 through more impressive collaborations with both long-established vets (Evidence, Prodigy) and a new generation of up-and-comers (Curren$y, Oh No). Alc’s ear for samples remains savant-like, yet his sound continues to evolve with nothing but positive results.

Peep Game: Curren$y & Prodigy – “The Type,” Greneberg – “Paper Cuts,” Prodigy -“The One and Only”

Big K.R.I.T.

While the 2011 XXL Freshman cover may have brought K.R.I.T. to the masses and helped land him work with Southern kingpins like Ludacris and TI, it was the quality of 2010’s K.R.I.T. Wuz Here that placed him firmly on critics’ radar and opened incedible oppritunities in the year that followed. Return of 4Eva has to be in consideration for mixtape/album of the year, and with a slate of work lined up for 2012, K.R.I.T. appears prime to extend his win streak.

Peep Game: Big K.R.I.T. – “Free My Soul,” Ludacris & Wiz Khalifa – “What You Smoking On,” T.I. & Big K.R.I.T. – “I’m Flexin'”

Just Blaze

With a body of work that few active producers can match, Just Blaze has earned the right to be selective with his work, and he certainly has. Make no mistake, though: Just because he hasn’t been as active doesn’t mean JB can’t bring the heat, because he did on everything he touched this year, without exception.

Peep Game: Drake & Rick Ross – “Lord Knows,” Rick Ross – “I Love My Bitches,” XV – “Wichita”

Lex Luger

Smoked Out Luger first made his mark back in 2010, but no one was more productive over the past year. More recent efforts have finally displayed significant range from his proven-but-stale formula, while the trio of mixtapes with Juicy J were textbook trippy, mane.

Peep Game: Ace Hood – “Hustle Hard,” The Throne – “H.A.M.” Wale & Rick Ross -“That Way”

Tyler, The Creator

While 2011 marked the year when Tyler and the Wolf Gang boldly arrived on your local TV news, it was during 2010 when OF did most of their damage musically. Still, the production on Goblin swayed from trend-setting to timeless and Tyler always came correct for a limited number of carefully selected collaborations.

Peep Game: Casey Veggies & Tyler, the Creator – “DTA,” Tyler, the Creator – “She,” Tyler, the Creator – “Yonkers”

If you care to disagree with the compiled list,fuck you be sure to leave word in the C-Section. After all, the whole purpose of this completely subjective “Best Of…” nonesence is to spawnintelligent debate and discussion.

Until next Tuesday, it’s The Blast, ya’ll.

–Noakes

Originally posted January 24, 2012 at theblast-blog.com

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