Hip-hop has come a long way in terms of appreciating producers. Over the years, they would often take a backseat to the rapper. Consequently, many people couldn’t name the person behind the beat of their favorite song unless they did a deep dive into the album liner notes. With the advent of the internet, Google made it easier to discover who had crafted what. These days, names such as Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, Madlib and Noah “40” Shebib are more recognizable. Timbaland is synonymous with Missy Elliott, Swizz Beatz is known for his work with DMX, Madlib is forever tied to MF DOOM and 40 is inextricably linked to Drake.
Their symbiotic, collaborative relationships have led to musical magic. Their work on albums and songs like DMX and Swizz Beatz’s “Party Up In Here,” Missy Elliott and Timbaland’s “Get Ur Freak On,” Drake and 40’s “Started From The Bottom,” Eric B. & Rakim‘s “I Ain’t No Joke” and Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre‘s “Gin & Juice” have been embedded into the collective consciousness.
While technically one can exist without the other, a rapper has the ability to add so much value to a beat. It’s also safe to say most people don’t want to hear a rapper spitting a cappella for an extended period. Some of these producer-rapper duos have arguably evolved into the greatest of all time due to consistency, innovation and sheer impact. As part of XXL’s ongoing celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, these are some of the greatest rapper-producer duos that have transcended time and the seemingly endless roster of artists out there vying for the spotlight.