Before, there was a time when hip hop producers were akin to the Tellers of a rapper’s proverbial Penn. Now, beat makers are in some cases more popular than the very artists they lend their sound to. Not too many fans of today’s popular music would be able to pick a Brooke Valentine, Defari, or Yowda out of a lineup, but will instantly recognize a Lil Jon, Alchemist, or DJ Mustard beat when they hear it on any of the three’s respective songs.
Or, more specifically, their drops. Producers have now become some of the most prevalent artists in music, no longer being relegated to “just the DJ.” As more musicians flock to some the most popular beat architects to assist them on their path to success, the producers are now more likely to leave their calling cards on the song as if to make the listener remember who was responsible for them nodding their heads in a car or falling for strippers at the nudie bar. The DopeHouse would now like to tribute some of them with this latest installment of The TENS.
We’ll never be sure exactly what Lil Jon is being affirmative about but it became the signal that shit was about to go down. Lil Jon never needed to record the vocal because he enjoyed saying it so much and it was just so damn infectious. As soon as you heard “Yeah!” bellow from the speakers in the nightclub, it was a signal for every drunkard to scurry to the dance floor and go nuts. It became so big that it took over his entire existence thanks to those infamous skits on Chappelle’s Show. In due time, we’ll probably forget that Lil Jon was ever a producer. – Andreas Hale
Christopher James Gholson had been putting an immense amount of work in as a producer as far back as 2002, and his fingerprints have helped shaped what is now known as Atlanta’s ubiquitous “trap” sound. However, many outside of the South would not know that until they hear a voice (who, I’m guessing, is Thor after a purple-induced visit to Dreams Houston) bellow “Listen to the track, b*tch!” with the force of 1,000 Gale Force winds. That, my friends, is Drumma Boy’s bass-wrecking, eardrum-pounding concoctions — found on aural hammers like Waka Flocka’s “No Hands,” Rocko’s “Umma Do Me,” Gucci Mane’s “Photoshoot,” and countless others. – Meka
No, Maybach Music isn’t a production team but it certainly deserves placement on this list. Australian model Jessica Gomes sat in the studio watching Jay Z and Rick Ross work on music when she was asked to say a simple line on the song “Maybach Music.” And the rest is history. That hint of foreign accent really jumps out at you and signals that you are about to listen to something lush and rich. – Andreas Hale
Breaking into the game back in ’07 with a proper Gucci Mane blessing, Mike Will Made It has went on to work with pretty much everyone who’s sniffed the Billboard 200 in the past decade. Both his name and producer tag have become synonymous with primetime banger as he’s commanded the airwaves for the last five years with production on Future’s “Turn On The Lights,” 2 Chainz and Drake’s “No Lie,” Ace Hood’s “Bugatti,” Juicy J’s “Bandz A Make Her Dance,” Rae Sremmurd’s entire debut album and many, many others.
Rarely executed as a transition to a beat drop—like others on the very list—Mike’s name is more an assurance that a certified, trap-laced trunk shaker is on the horizon. There’s one exception, though, and it turns out to be one of my favorites from Michael Williams. On Future’s “Move That Dope,” after a maniacal Pusha T introduces the “real dope dealers,” the “Mike WiLL Made It” tag is directly followed by warbling, explosive production that lays beneath a slew of rappers’ affinity for selling drugs.
Oh, he also laced JAY Z with “Beach Is Better” on MCHG. But, until the “full version” surfaces, that shit doesn’t count! – Patrick Glynn
DJ Premier is, quite literally, the reason I decided to entertain music as a source of legitimate employment and income. Coming from an African family full of doctors and lawyers (not to mention the countless cousins, aunts, uncles, god-cousins, nieces, and nephews thrice-removed attending medical or law school), I was essentially forced into one of four occupations:
• Disgrace to the family
Well obviously I cover and write about music, as well as deejay, for a living. Needless to say, I wasn’t invited to many a family gathering for a few years. But I digress.
Either way, it was the hard-hitting backdrops of Primo that cascaded over the lyrics to some of my favorite songs which made me decide against spending the rest of my life paying off medical school loans. Well, that, and the fact that a “field trip” to a hospital surgery room when I was 13 turned me off of that stuff altogether. There are some things in life I’ll never be able to un-see; watching a guy get gutted, have the fecal matter from his large intestine wrung out like a tube of Go-Gurt because a cancerous tumor blocked its passage to the colon, then watch as said tumor was cauterized off, ranks pretty high on that list.
Wait… what am I talking about? Oh, right.
Premier wasn’t exactly known for his “drop,” which — like Alchemist’s — was a stuttering tag of his namesake, than he was for his incredible ability to turn innocuous and multiple vocal samples into full-fledged hooks throughout his compositions, which in a sense became his own unique calling card. And judging from his massive Gang Starr catalog, to his GRAMMY-winning work with Christina Aguilera, to his recent work with Royce 5’9” as PRhyme, he more than warrants a look on this list. – Meka
When YG said “Mustard on the beat, hoe” at the end of “I’m Good,” DJ Mustard realized that he had the perfect drop to let people know that you are listening to his production. Who knew that you’d hear it on damn near every single song that was a hit from 2014-15. It’s funny because people had misinterpreted this drop for quite some time until DJ Mustard took off. You had “Buzzards on the beat, hoe” or “Buzzin on the beat, hoe” or “What’s it gonna be, hoe.” But now you can’t mistake what it’s saying and whose beat it belongs to. – Andreas Hale
Alchemist’s stuttering “A-a-a-a-lchemist” tag has made its round in the hip-hop world for the last 20 years.
Over the past two decades, the Chemist has cooked up bangers for veterans like Nas, Mobb Deep, and Eminem. He’s assisted popular new jacks like ScHoolBoy Q, Bronsolino and Joey Bada$$. And, let’s not forget, Blu, Curren$y, Sean Price, and countless others.
When you hear a distorted Prodigy saying Alchemist’s name, a rich line of hip-hop history along with a great deal of respect comes along with it. – Patrick Glynn
Unlike nearly every other producer on this list, Harry Fraud isn’t widely known in the mainstream world. While his lush, bass-heavy smoke vibes have been the backdrops to the likes of French Montana, Action Bronson, Wiz Khalifa, Smoke DZA and more, one of the most notable elements of the New York producer’s music is his tag.
At the beginning of damn neat every Harry Fraud beat, Fanesha Fabre, with her rich, luscious voice, says: “La Musica de Harry Fraud”—translating from Spanish to “The music of Harry Fraud.” Now, I can’t confirm this, but I’m not certain Harry Fraud has any direct ties to the Latin world, and rarely, if ever, do any rhymes that follow the tag surface in another language. Really, this all helps the sound stick out and become more memorable.
Harry Fraud’s production style is difficult to narrow down to a specific category, as he’s ranged from signature New York boom bap in his earlier days to sample-heavy, laidback-yet-knocking beats over the last handful of years. Whatever vibe Fraud chooses to roll with, his signature and notable tag is sure to lead the way. – Patrick Glynn
If there’s one person to blame for this very list, every finger would be squarely pointed at Uncle Murda.
Prior to what’s essentially become the most infamous declaration about mistrust since Benedict Arnold became an insult synonymous with betrayal, Leland T. Wayne’s original tag was that of frequent collaborator Young Thug’s high-pitched squealing of “Metro Boomin, want some more” (which originally came from the hook of his 19 & Boomin offering, “Some More”). That is, until Future mumbled the line “If young Metro don’t trust you I’m gon’ shoot you” on his and Uncle M’s 2015 single “Right Now.” Those ten words then reappeared during the introductory chords of Drake and Future’s “Jumpman,” before landing on Kanye West’s “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1” where it really took off.
Since then, those ten words have now etched themselves into meme history, second to the now-legendary Jordan Cry Face as the most important contributions to urban entertainment today. – Meka
Justin Smith was injecting soul into mainstream hip hop production as far back as 1997 and spawned a plethora of producers who sought to accomplish the same thing by the time the 2000s began. So Just Blaze needed a signature drop to remind the listening crowd who the boss is. And what better way to do that than to say your own gotdamn name? Today, “Just Blaaaaaaze!” is one of the most notable and longstanding drops in all of hip hop. It’s 2016 and Justin Smith is still cooking up a batch of dopeness. However, as he mentioned in an interview with Noisey, just don’t ask him to do his own drop in public. – Andreas Hale
“People who run up to me in the street and ask me to do the Just Blaze drop are the worst. I’m just trying to buy a pair of socks and it’s ‘come on just do it one time, just one time.” I’m like, why don’t you do it?”