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The Return of NY: From DJ Premier to Harry Fraud, The Producers

Posted by Dharmic X on 03/12/13 | Filed under Opinion, Return of NY
New York City has always been the Mecca of this hip-hop shit. The lineage of emcees is lengthy and historic: Chuck D, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Nas, Jay-Z... the list goes on. But over the last few years the death knoll has been ringing for NYC rap...until a new generation emerged to give the city life.

Is the golden age of New York City hip-hop returning? Did it ever really leave? Over the next few weeks we'll be breaking down what's currently going on in the Big Apple in our "The Return of NY" series. We turn our attention now to the other side of the music: the producers.


Off the jump, it is pretty much impossible to identify what it means to be a “New York producer.” In fact, this has always been difficult to define; one of the greatest producers who helped define New York’s sound in the 90s, DJ Premier, was born in Houston. Besides, in 2013, the different styles and sounds that define New York City hip-hop range from A$AP Rocky to Sean Price, with everything in between the two. At the same time, there is likely no producer who is out here serving only New York City rappers. With so many emcees throughout the nation, they would be foolish to do so.

It would make sense to start with the OG producers who are continuing to provide heat. While some have accused DJ Premier of falling off, marred with inconsistency and uninspired work, there is no denying that he is still called upon by many. It is telling that 18-year old Brooklyn phenom Joey Bada$$ called upon Premo to produce the single for his deal with Mountain Dew. “Unorthodox” might not be the hardest-hitting track, but it is a solid head-nodder. Meanwhile, Premo has dropped absolute bangers for La Coka Nostra, Bumpy Knuckles, and Torae, among others.

Other legendary producers continue to produce heatrocks. Pete Rock remains as relevant as ever, doing tracks for artists such as .38 Special, Ill Bill, and most recently, Troy Ave. Large Professor knocked out a banger for Noreaga, perhaps one of the better solo records N.O.R.E. has ever done. Buckwild out of DITC remains relevant, earning mainstream placements on albums such as Nas’s last release. RZA might not be directly producing as much music as he once did, but his guidance as an executive producer has crafted not only the incredible Man with the Iron Fist soundtrack and now this new Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge album, "Twelve Reasons to Die".

The Alchemist is a producer who has never confined himself to one geographic region, but his work within the New York rap scene in the last year has been stellar. "Rare Chandeliers" was yet another feather in the cap for Action Bronson, but Alchemist also delivered work that propelled Meyhem Lauren and AG Da Coroner to a higher platform, along with knocking out tracks with Roc Maciano and Sean Price.

On the other side of the country, from North Carolina, the Soul Council has been a fairly dominant force as well. Helmed by the leader, 9th Wonder, the group has produced tracks for both Sean Price and Buckshot amongst the Duck Down group, along with tracks for Torae, Skyzoo, and others.

Meanwhile, East Coast’s Statik Selektah has been one of the big stars on the scene for the last couple of years. While his crew of affiliates includes a lot of people from his native Massachusetts (Reks, Termanology, and Ea$y Money), and he too has branched out across the country, he is also the man behind some of the standout tracks for rising stars such as Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era, Nitty Scott, MC, and Action Bronson. With his new project, "Extended Play" intended to be grimier than "Population Control", one can be sure that New York City will be well represented on that album.

Another incredibly talented producer is !llmind, the mastermind behind Skyzoo’s album and a man whose reach has extended into the mainstream with his placement on Kanye West’s album. Keeping his roots in the scene, he continues to craft songs with unheralded emcees such as Silent Knight.

One of New York City’s emerging producers has become a hot commodity in the past year. Harry Fraud has been damn near everywhere, producing some of French Montana’s biggest hits and then turning around and doing a full project with New Jersey’s Eddie B. He just released a dope mixtape called "Adrift", and it looks like the time is finally ripe for the much anticipated collaborative release with Bronsolino.

Other producers are also really starting to cement their place in the scene at this point. With "Newport Authority" and "Port Authority 2" on the way, Toronto’s Marco Polo is going to be having a monstrous 2013. Triple threat producer, emcee, and DJ Scram Jones has padded his resume through Raekwon’s "Lost Jewlry" release. Apollo Brown was an instrumental force behind the resurfacing of D.I.T.C’s O.C. thanks to his beats on "Trophies". And the Brown Bag Allstar crew keeps plodding along, with Audible Doctor and J57’s names in particular continuously appearing on banger upon banger. The Beast Coast movement has given rise to Chuck Strangers and Erick Arc Elliott, while the A$AP movement has A$AP Ty Beats.

Everyone says that the game is over flooding with emcees; the reality is that there may be way more producers than emcees in the game right now. Some notable names to highlight: Yuri Beats, ATG, The Entreproducers, Tommy Mas, Hannibal King, Bagir Olu and One-Take.

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See Also:  The Return of NY: The Veterans

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