There’s no argument against Dr. Dre’s status as one of Hip-Hop’s most talented and influential producers. His sample-based funk with N.W.A. laid the foundation for rap’s most prominent sub-genre and the follow-up records he made on Death Row and Aftermath established his palace atop the once-barren plot. Yet, for all the strings the Good Doc has pulled in order to orchestrate some of the biggest songs in music history, there have been numerous producers who helped the Grammy-award winner craft his hits along the way.
To give these contributors more of the credit they rarely receive and reinforce the fact that even the biggest names in the business don’t act alone, we’ve compiled this list of ten producers who helped establish the Good Doc’s impeccable track record.
Although Yella is widely known by the masses as N.W.A.’s mainstay DJ, few realize the CPT OG also had a hand in the production of some of West Coast Hip-Hop’s biggest releases. Most of them–albums like Eazy-E’s Eazy-Duz-It debut, D.O.C.’s No One Can Do It Better classic and all three N.W.A. albums–were co-produced with Dr. Dre.
But once Dre’s relationship soured with Eazy and Ruthless Records, Dre moved to Death Row and his dynamic production duo with Yella seemingly fell through the cracks.
Considering Suge Knight has never been the most honest individual, we’re hard-pressed to completely believe his claims that Daz produced Snoop’s timeless Doggystyle debut in its entirety and not Dre. However, Snoop has specifically stated Daz and Warren G handed over the beat that would become “Ain’t No Fun,” so there’s clearly some extra credit that needs dealt.
The emcee behind the oft-forgotten Cali gem “U Betta Recognize” is also the man who helped Dr. Dre fine-tune some of his most notable singles.
Aside from coming up with the skits on Doggystyle, Sneed co-produced Dre’s Murder Was The Case record with Ice Cube, “Natural Born Killaz.” Plus, he’s credited as the co-producer on another big soundtrack single from the Doc, “Keep Their Heads Ringin,” off the extremely successful Friday original soundtrack.
Chris “The Glove” Taylor
Despite Death Row’s prominence during the ’90s, there probably aren’t many rap fans who know much about Chris Taylor–the second producer signed to Suge Knight’s label and one of the driving forces behind many of their biggest releases.
According to an interview with AllHipHop, Taylor claims to have produced “Stranded On Death Row” for The Chronic, “Doggy Dogg World” on Doggystyle and laid down the keys on 2Pac’s legendary single “California Love.”
The under-touted West Coast pioneer also alleges he produced 2001‘s “XXplosive” and the majority of Ice Cube’s N.W.A. reunion track “Hello”–both of which were originally intended for King Tee. As a result of being uncredited for the former banger, “The Glove” sued Dre for royalties, which didn’t end well for him. It did, however, set the precedent for Dre’s co-producers down the line to get proper credit for their work.
First-off, the liner notes on 2001 list Mel-Man as the album’s co-producer. So, the correct credit has definitely been given in this instance (largely in part to Chris Taylor). Yet, the odd thing about this Virginia-born producer is that the only noteworthy productions he’s got to his name–aside from Dre’s acclaimed comeback album–is “Da Dip” by Freak Nasty, which had us putting our hands on hips quite a few years prior.
Which brings up the questions: where the hell did Mel-Man come from and, more importantly, where did he go?
Another known name who blew up from his association with Dr.Dre and 2001 is Scott Storch. Despite being primarily known as the Doc’s keyboardist on the monumental project, this former Roots member was the one who specifically nailed those key ivory riffs that give “Still D.R.E.” the zest needed to stand the test of time.
As an in-house producer for Aftermath, Mike Elizondo’s typical duties used to consist of playing bass guitar. However, after laying the foundations for many of Dr.Dre’s biggest productions, the LA-based instrumentalist eventually became credited as Dre’s equal. Then again, crafting career-defining tracks like “The Real Slim Shady” and “In Da Club” will do that.
Even with Slim Shady himself producing much of his famed album The Eminem Show, three of the stand-outs (“Business,” “Say What You Say” and “My Dad’s Gone Crazy”) were specifically credited to Dre. But if you look at the liner notes, famed Gospel-turned-R&B producer Neff-U clearly had a role in these songs. The natural pianist is also rumored to have had a role in “Back Down” from 50’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin debut.
Anyone who complained that Eminem’s Relapse album wasn’t up to par couldn’t have been talking about the beats. Featuring a plethora of instrumentals credited to Dre and a handful of specially-chosen co-producers, the project served as a platform for Slim Shady to return to his maniacal self. And many credit Parker as one of the driving forces behind that dark, minimalistic sound.
Another artist who helped The Doc operate on Relapse was formally trained jazz pianist Mark Batson, who also made a name for himself by assisting on almost all of Eminem’s 2009 project. The Brooklyn beatsmith can also be credited for laying down Jay-Z’s “Lost Ones” and Snoop’s “Imagine” for Dre to slam home.