Beats are a crucial element to any Hip Hop track. Most times it is a make or break element to not only the song, but how we view and value the artist using it. Over the span of Hip Hop music there have been several classics made that stand squarely on the shoulders of the beat alone. Sometimes the artist can actually take a backseat to the beat. I’m not going to place any examples as to not offend any of my favorite artists, BUT IT HAPPENS.
So who has the best ear for beats? Which artists always seem to hit a home run when it comes to the soundscape they select? Of course A & R’s and executive producers should also get a great deal of credit for this as well, but the final say comes down to the artist, and of course I have my opinion of the three that always come correct:
I personally think 50 is batting a thousand over his career when it comes to the beats he chooses. Not only that, 50 is infamous for using the beats of unknown and up and coming producers, which means he and his team dig for gold, and most times they come back with diamonds. Ever since his mixtape parade began before Get Rich or Die Trying dropped 50 Cent has rapped over rugged banger over rugged banger. Its hard to not mention Curtis when you talk about the best ears in the game, no matter what you think of him personally.
Bumpy Knicks is one of my all-time favorite artists, period. But when when begin the discussion about beat selection you absolutely MUST include him in the discussion. His album Industry Shakedown released on June 27, 2000 may have the greatest line up producers on it (even in comparison to Illmatic. The credits included giants such as Pete Rock, Diamond D, DJ Premier, and Alchemist. And if I’m not mistaken Freddie himself produced a couple bangers on here. of course it doesn’t stop there. Bumpy has had several releases since then that only include the cream of the crop producers.
Like a true dog, Snoop seems to be able to hear things others cannot and among this short list he by far has THE BEST ear simply for the fact that he sets trends and experiments with new sounds and styles. Snoop has never kept himself in a box and has always worked with a diverse group of producers from Dr. Dre, Hi-Tek, DJ Quik, Just Blaze, The Neptunes and many more. Snoop is the ultimate chameleon in Hip Hop, and not only that, but almost every time the BEAT BANGS!
Who else do you think has a GREAT EAR for beats?