Production is Key


Editors note: I just knew this next fella was gonna be bringing the heat. I met this guy while I was working over at M+ magazine. They say that game recognizes game and we both instantly knew what was up. My man has also written for Jointz Magazine, and if you’re in the know you’ve seen his pen names listed in the credits of a few fancy schmancy, prestigious publications that I won’t call by name here just to keep my man out of trouble. Lately he’s been focusing on trying to let LA Weekly know what’s up. Hopefully they’ll get it soon enough. So with that said, I introduce to you my man “rilla”.

Sometimes it’s about the artists, most of the time it’s about the producer.

For the most part, all the music you enjoy has a remarkable ability to separate itself from the rest of the music you listen to. It stands above the rest. An intrinsic quality that attracts you to a particular song or melody. Even though you like your favorite artists voice, they wouldn’t be anything without their production. Here’s a toast to some of the finest beat makers around. I thought it was only right to cover the best of what’s out right now.

Hi-Tek ft. Jadakiss, Papoose, Talib Kweli, Raekwon – Where it All Started

New York, New York just about says it all, don’t want to get all ‘mo about it, but still, got mad love for New York (dunny!), it is where it all started.



Hi-Tek aka Tony Cotrell is widely known for his production credits with Blackstar. He collaborated with Talib Kweli to form Reflection Eternal, on the Train of Thought album. Hailing from the ‘Nati (Cincy, for all you who don’t know), he started his rap career with hip hop group, Mood, met Talib and moved onwards and upwards quickly. Hi-Tek would eventually sign with Rawkus Records, producing the popular Soundbombing series with Cipha Sounds and the rest of the Rawkus roster. In 2001, he released his debut, Hi-Teknology on Rawkus to some acclaim, but overall, no radio success. Even though the album sold over 250,000 copies, Tek was displeased with the overall promotion and backing of the album by Rawkus. As a result, the producer left Rawkus for MCA Records and began working with another Cincy artist, a singer by the name of Jonell. While producing tracks for his follow-up, “Hi-Teknology: The Chip” he also worked on her debut album for Def Jam, but both albums never saw the light of day.


You might be surprised to learn that Hi-Tek is working as a staff producer for Dr. Dre’s, Aftermath Records at the moment and has put the finishing touches on his follow-up to be released on Babygrande October 17th and distributed through Koch Entertainment. Of course the album will be in stores Oct. 17th, but that doesn’t mean it’s not floating all over the net somewhere.

Hi-Tek ft. J. Dilla, Nas, Common, Busta Rhymes, Marsha of Floetry, Busta Rhymes – Music for Life

Celebrating the life, times and music of J. Dilla with a few words of wisdom from Dilla Dog. He talks about about what music really meant to him. It’s still hard to think about him being gone, but I think a tribute like this from a producer like Hi-Tek is honest, truthful and very much needed.




9th Wonder

It was once believed that there were 8 Wonders of the World. Pat Douthit came along to change everyone’s mind and introduced himself to the world as the 9th Wonder. 9th is known mostly for his work as the producer for Little Brother and his work with Hall of Justus records, a small North Carolina collaborative he’s involved with. He’s worked with Destiny’s Child and Mary J. Blige, but his resume is littered with underground artists who have given 9th’s beats God status. Most recently, he’s worked with Game, Murs and a collabo with Buckshot, called Chemistry.

While Little Brother has enjoyed the kind of critical acclaim that is unheard of for an underground group, 9th has taken it all in stride and has continued to grind, working on his full length debut, The Dream Merchant Vol. 2.0. 9th’s tracks can usually be picked based on the use of soul samples, simple drum patterns or some horn-play.

First up has to be the re-emergence of the Crooklyn Dodgers, this time with Black Dante (Mos Def), the Jeanius Jean Grae and Memphis Bleek. The song follows up on the earlier tracks in the series so far, the original “Crooklyn Dodgers” with Buckshot, Masta Ace and Special Ed, the”Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers” with Chubb Rock, Jeru the Damaja and OC.


APOLOGIES FOR THE ADVANCE. I’ll find a clean mix if you can’t grab one. Let me know.

Mos Def, Jean Grae & Memphis Bleek – Crooklyn Dodgers Pt. 3 Prod. by 9th Wonder

It’s funny how things happen sometimes. I never would have thought this post on great production would include either one of the next couple of people I am going to mention. I hope no one can hold it against me as it stands now, because with this being your first impression of me, you may just ignore me from here on out.

When Making The Band made Da Band, we were forced to believe that 5-7 rappers who had competed to work with Diddy, were happy enough being on TV and would never be heard from again. If there was one rapper I was hoping would have a career past the final shoot day, it was Ness, or “E. Ness”, whoever. His verses were better than the rest of Da Band put together and there’s a good chance he’s been ghostwriting for Diddy as part of Da Band’s contract may have entailed. (Where’s Fredrick, Choppa, Babs? Oh that’s right, Babs is in the “new” BIG video, I almost forgot) Well, Ness is back and this time he’s aligning himself with actual artists, not just hype men. On a track called “Temptation” with none other than Big Pooh and 9th of Little Brother.

E. Ness ft. Big Pooh – Temptation – Prod. By 9th Wonder

I’m not on it yet, but apparently the new Skyzoo and 9th project called, Present Cloud 9: The 3 Day High is bonkers. Go buy it from your corner record dealer or your local bootlegger, I doubt that you can even buy the album is stores, but the applause for 9th’s production on this one is deafening.


Speaking of E. Ness, this leads perfectly into my next peice.

Now here’s where all of you might stop reading. I won’t blame you at all, being that the name I’m about to bring up, doesn’t really have anything to do with music other than he pays a lot for other people to take care of it for him. He’s come under a tremendous amount of scrutiny lately for the moves his label has made of the past few years, but he set out to quiet all of his naysayers earlier this year and did it against one of hip-hip’s most heralded groups.


That’s right, I’m talking Diddy. I’m talking about Danity Kane (Da Band 2 Version 2.3) and Outkast getting blown out of the Billboard water against them.

Normally, when a discussion about music comes up, Diddy is probably the last person you would expect to hear mentioned. I would completely agree, but Diddy is very helpful in proving why I believe production is the key to album success. While everyone knows Diddy and more importantly Dre have ghostwriters, the reason their fans keep coming back is the production. For the record, Dre could recite nursery rhymes over his beats and I would still blast it with the windows down singing right along. Diddy has an uphill battle to climb. After the debacle that was his last album, Forever, (who can forget.. “Cuz I’m/Public Enemy Number 1…1…..1…..1, take that take that take that” his newest release, Press Play has a lot to prove. If the latest single serves as any sort of basis for what we can expect the album to sound like, I have to say, I’m pleasantly relieved/surprised/shocked. However you want to put it, this single grows on you, doesn’t hurt to have the …Soul Machine Cee-Lo Green and Nas on the track either.

Diddy ft. Nas & Cee-Lo Green – Everything I Love

Oh and if you can’t guess who produced the track, it’s Mr. Kanye West of course.


Try to pick out who may have written the verse for Diddy, because he sounds like a 60 yr old talking about smoking the “illest doja”.

I wanted to stop there, but I figured if I did I would probably never be allowed to post again. So I’m going to redeem myself with this one.


Since I mentioned the master producer himself before, I figured I should end with a solid mention since we’re talking about production. I’m saving Madlib for another time, but here’s the producer that you wish you had on your album.

Jay Love Japan

The fifth album for Dilla and his final album. Of all posthumous releases, this one really seems to stay true to the legend of Dilla.

Throughout the years, Jay Dilla has solidified himself as one of the most innovative producers and continues to touch many people from all angles of culture. This season he reaches out to Japan with his project entitled “Jay Love Japan”. This ode to 05, wraps up the year and represents the momentum that Hip Hop will have behind it as we enter 2006. He sets off JLJ with “Cant You See”, a cinematic declration about his passion for the block. Dilla then re-connects with cross city native Taraach, displayin once again how them Mo-Town Boys get down. Along with Dj Exile, the 3 combine to shine on “Say It”, a certified stone cold dish served raw. From Detroit to Tokyo, Dilla blesses yall with “In the Streets” , an alley way anthem with don-diva like vocals by Truth Hurts. As the eras of Hip Hop change and develop, Dilla always seems to be at the forefront of the movement, reinventing himself and at the same time introducing new artists to the world. On “Victory” Dilla defines triumph and shares crowns with 19 year old male vocalist Jontelle and generation x mc, Blu. They speak a message of finding an escape out of the struggle through a love called music, the ups and downs of the industry, and the future of music through the eyes of history. Source:

Here’s a little Dilla, turning Japanese (I really think so) with that “familiar thump”

J Dilla ft. Pacific Division – Fantasy

The album was originally going to be a Japanese release only, but now I believe it will be released stateside as well. Thank the Gods, more Dilla is on our way.

Here’s to the producers that make our ears happy and the artists’ who choose them carefully. Cheers!


Hi-Teknology 2The 3 Day High


14 Responses to “Production is Key”

  1. white silk Says:

    Love the range of music you represent here on your blog and the musical favors you offer us masses – big ups!

    That being said, the links for the Hi-Tek do not seem to be working…

  2. sondh Says:

    Having only listened to it once since I picked it up, I have to say I’m not overly impressed by ‘The Chip’, I hope it’s a grower.

    There’s a couple of Reflection Eternal tracks off Kweli’s last mixtape which I liked a lot. Damn, I can’t wait for that to drop!

  3. doctashock Says:

    Our file host is being screwy with those particular tracks for some reason. I put up a temporary solution that will take you to a direct download. I’ll try to fix it back so that you can stream the tracks in a bit.

    Thanks for reading. Might I ask what lead you our way?

    Links should work now.

  4. white silk Says:

    Thanks for the fixed links – I just HAD to check back to listen to the new Hi-Tek. I really dig his organic beats/style and hope he continues creating beats like I know he can rather than puttin the mic in his hands (a la Pete Rock). Producers like them don’t need to lower their rep by gettin in front of the wheels of steel……stay in the back, Cous, stay in the back!

    To be honest, I can’t recall what blog led me your way (Soul Sides, perhaps?).

    If I do ever figure it out, I’ll drop you a heads-up……..

  5. Sheesh Dude Says:

    What lead me . . .?

    Uhhhhh, my brother beat me in the head with multiple emails and phone calls to check out this joint and, I must say, I deserved every hit this is nice!


    Great ear for production! I’m in the Nati and tomorrow evening (10/14/06) Tek and Kweli are doing a free show downtown (fountain square) to promote Tek’s new one-I’m inviting everyone in the midwest.

    Honestly can’t say that his production has really touched me recently like his first joint did but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t jump at the chance to work with him, and I respect the fact that he hangs out like a regular dude here-he’s not hollywood like Doctashock (inside jokes). That NY joint is definitely bringing those Rawkus feelings back *sigh*.

    I’m pissed and delighted that I didn’t know about Jay Loves Japan! Pissed because I consider myself a fan, delighted because-(playing that youtube clip for the 50th time)

    I respect you putting Diddy in, one key factor that people forget is presentation. What made Diddy a great producer (as in pre-1999ish) was not that he made the beats in the “hip-hop” definition of a producer, but that he defined a sound, vibe, and or theme as in the “rock” definition of a producer. This could be a whole other blog, but what other genre of music besides hip-hop is there where the producer is expected to play every instrument? No one can argue (I guess thats arguable) that Diddy failed in creating the sound, vibe, and theme that shaped “Ready to Die”-(The greatest Theme album in hip-hop history) and, subsequently what became the east coast and party sound thru the 90s. So Diddy is (or was) a producer and I would venture to say what hip-hop may be missing (besides creativity, originality, and independence-another blog) is the Presentation-minded producer. A lot of beatmakers, though . . .
    With that said let me also state that Kanye and Dilla are also presentation-minded producers. 9th and Tek . . .not so much-but top 10 beatmakers and producers, nonetheless.

    What do I know? I use fruityloops.

    P.S. Threw my myspace in there just to piss off Doctashock (tough love)

  6. raerae Says:

    I’ve watched the “Where It All Started” video so many times I lost count. So dooope! Thanks. Loved your entire piece. You right on about production being key.

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