Hip-hop's 10 greatest beats
19th Feb 2009 | 09:56
Can Kanye West beat these?
Kanye West claims he's produced "probably one of the best hip-hop beats of all time" for Jay-Z's new album, The Blueprint 3. And that's fighting talk.
MusicRadar likes Kanye's self-confidence, but we can't let his claim go unchallenged. Yup, his beats for Jay-Z just might be the best (when we hear them), but MusicRadar has its own Top 10 of hip-hop's greatest beats.
Kanye - have you done better than these tracks? It's Parental Advisory all the way.
In reverse order, MusicRadar presents…
Hip-hop's 10 greatest beats
10. Pharoahe Monch - Simon Says
Producer: Pharoahe Monch
Album: Internal Affairs (1999)
Former Organised Konfusion spitter Pharoahe Monch returned on the solo tip with a thunderous self produced floor-shaker of a tune. Tearing up clubs all over the world with a cheeky uncleared sample from the Godzilla movie theme, a fight-starting chorus and a simple but effective plodding beat, it propelled Monch into the mainstream. Also check out the lesser-known UK remix which saw Skitz rework the track with added bars by Roots Manuva and Rodney P.
9. Dr Dre Featuring Eminem - Forgot About Dre
Producer: Dr Dre
Album: 2001 (2000)
The second single from Dre's long-awaited 2001 featured an instrumental that sounded like none of the good Dr's tracks before. It swapped the G-Funk he'd made famous for a dark and brooding electronic double timed track featuring an immense string intro, sparse keys, electronic blips and rumbling bass, with Dre and Eminem trading verses of comical horror over one of many amazing beats on the whole album. Will Dre switch his style up again for the forthcoming Detox album?
8. Ghostface Killah Featuring Raekwon & U-God - Black Jesus
Album: Ironman (1996)
Fast forward past the minute-long intro of mafioso street chat… As soon as the haunting vocal sample and those drums, tambourines and guitars kick in you know the about Rza's cooked up a Godfather-esque cinematic landscape for The Chef Raekwon, Ghostface and U-God to spit criminology tale magic off a classic album.
7. Jay Z - Heart Of The City
Producer: Kanye West
Album: Blueprint (2001)
Way before Kanye was crying through Auto-Tune he kicked the door open at Roc-A-Fella Records. And along with Just Blaze (they were both nobodies at the time), he crafted the majority of Jigga's 2001 classic Blueprint album. This cut, sampling Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City by Bobby 'Blue' Bland, sounds like it was straight out of a blaxploitation movie. The plodding drums and guitars provide a perfect background for Jay's braggadocious rhymes and the hand claps make us get up out of our seats and pray to the god Hova.
6. Eric B & Rakim - Follow The Leader
Producer: Eric B
Album: Follow The Leader (1988)
Was this really made in 1988? Eric B had his Marty McFly game real strong with this futuristic pulsing bassline-driven track. One of many producers to chop up Bob James' Nautilus, Eric B created something so dark, so broody that you could imagine Rakim holed up in a grimy room, spitting vicious-tongued rhymes of a metaphoric trip to space to a hungry mass of followers. Sick, sick track.
5. LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out
Producer: Marley Marl
Album: Mama Said Knock You Out (1990)
Back before LL filled his face full of plastic and sang songs about chicks and lollipops he used to rip some of the hardest hip-hop beats. Mama Said Knock You Out is probably the hardest track of his career. Marley Marl flipped James Brown's Funky Drummer and Sly And The Family Stone's Trip To Your Heart amongst other samples into a pounding beat that J ripped to shreds.
4. Snoop Dogg - Who Am I? (What's My Name)
Producer: Dr Dre
Album: Doggystyle (1993)
1993 was when the world was introduced to a young pup from Long Beach called Calvin. Dr Dre had just dropped a classic solo album that starred Snoop and the world was begging for more. The debut solo single from Snoop saw Dre flip Funkadelic's (Not Just) Knee Deep winding bassline over a chorus sampled from George Clinton's Atomic Dog with additional vocals by the silky smoothed songstress of Death Row Records Jewel.
3. Nas - NY State Of Mind
Producer: DJ Premier
Album: Illmatic (1994)
While Snoop and Dre were running things with there funky worm-driven beats, Nas and Premier were in the lab crafting this dark piano-plonking headnodder. Featuring a Preemo-trademark scratched chorus containing bars from Eric B & Rakim's Mahogany and Main Source's Live At The BBQ, this was the track that woke the world to nasty Nas. A picture of New York so vivid you can close your eyes and taste the Big Apple.
2. Outkast - BOB (Bombs Over Baghdad)
Producer: Earthtone III
Album: Stankonia (2000)
Fooling you with a slow-starting child-like intro, production unit Earthtone III (compromising of Mr DJ and the two dope Outkast boys) unleash a sonic assault on your eardrums. This was Andre 3000 & Big Boi's first single off the eclectic Stankonia, featuring a 155bpm track of chanting chorus, electric guitars and crazy scratches - you've no choice but get up off your seat and wild out. A reminder of the brilliant music Outkast used to make, before Andre went pop.
1. Pete Rock & CL Smooth - They Reminisce Over You (TROY)
Producer: Pete Rock
Album: Mecca And The Soul Brother (1992)
As soon as those horns kick after the funky intro sampled from When She Made Me Promise (by The Beginning Of The End) you know your in for something special. Pete Rock's banging drums and trademark horns samples (from Tom Scott's Today, here) keep your head nodding while CL Smooth reminisces about lost friends. Now, where's that rewind button?
Are these the best hip-hop beats ever? Let us know.