Finding The GOAT Producer: Kanye West vs. Scott Storch. Who Is Better?
“Finding the GOAT Producer” begins. The third installment of Ambrosia For Heads’s annual battle series features Hip-Hop’s greatest producers vying for the #1 spot. Thirty producers were pre-selected by a panel of experts, and two slots will be reserved for wild-card entries, including the possibility for write-in candidates, to ensure no deserving beat maker is neglected. The contest will consist of six rounds, NCAA basketball-tournament style, commencing with the Top 32, then the Sweet 16 and so on, until one winner is determined. For each battle, two producers (or collective of producers, e.g. The Neptunes) will be pitted against one another to determine which one advances to the next round.
Similar to the presentations in “Finding the GOAT MC” and “Finding the GOAT Album,” for each battle there will be an editorial about each producer that contextualizes the match-up, as well as sample songs, to help voters in their consideration. There also will be a poll in which votes will be cast, and readers will be able to see the % differential in votes, real-time. Though there also will be an enormous amount of debate in comments, on social media, in barbershops and back rooms, which we encourage, only votes cast in the official ballot will count. In prior “Finding the GOAT” battles, just a handful of votes often decided the results, in early and late rounds. So while we want everybody to talk about it, be about it too, with that vote that counts.
Scott Storch and Kanye West are arguably two of the most successful producers of all time. From 1999’s “Still D.R.E.” for Dr. Dre to 2016’s “All Eyez” for Game, Storch has been consistently present in the careers of Rap’s biggest names – not to mention his giant presence in The Roots’ discography as a founding member of the Philadelphia Hip-Hop icons. With songs like WC’s “The Streets,” Fat Joe’s “Lean Back,” and Big Boi’s “Shutterbugg” under his belt, Storch has produced for artists representing a vast array of diverse approaches. Kanye West’s career as a rapper has taken him to the furthest reaches of fame, but in addition to the work he’s done producing his own classic solo material, his collaborations with other artists also keep him in the running as one of the greatest of all time. From early 2000s work with Jay Z (“Izzo [H.O.V.A.],” “’03 Bonnie & Clyde”), Talib Kweli (“Get By”), Ludacris (“Stand Up”), and Twista (“Overnight Celebrity”), West has dominated the 21st century by creating some of Rap’s most successful records in history. As recently as 2016’s “Two Birds, One Stone” for Drake, West has remained relevant – but does his star power outshine Scott Storch’s tremendous discography?
Before he was one of the most widely-known MCs in the history of Hip-Hop, Kanye West cut his industry teeth as a producer. First under the tutelage of No I.D. and also D-Dot (from The Hitmen), West began circulating album cuts on late ’90s releases. By the time he laced Beanie Sigel’s Y2K title track “The Truth,” the proof set in that this was a sonic technician. West sampled, and treated those excavations with care. He (along with Just Blaze and Bink!) helped create an in-house flavor for Jay Z and Roc-A-Fella Records. These artists injected a Soul into Rap, without compromising its grit. Hits for Jay, Scarface, Cam’ron, and Talib Kweli felt dramatic and melodic at once. West’s music had a sense of style, urgency, and a rich connection to musical ancestors. For his own The College Dropout campaign, West’s mere choosing of records (Luther Vandross to Aretha Franklin to Chaka Khan) was excitement. He harnessed this wave to re-brand Common, give Dilated Peoples a crossover assist, and showcased Lil Wayne’s musicality. By the late-2000s, Kanye drove out of his first period by becoming one of the pioneers of the Auto-Tune era. ‘Ye forecast Drake, Future, and much of the 2010s sound on his 2008 808’s & Heartbreak. In addition to adding to his celebrated solo catalog, he made anthems for Jay (of a new variety), Dreezy, and his own Watch The Throne monarchy. In the last five years, West has returned to sampling, blended Trap with EDM, and targeted the charts, bringing Pusha T, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, and Paul McCartney with him.
Throughout the 1990s, Scott Storch earned his stripes on tracks as an integral part of The Roots. The then-low profile Canadian created keyboard melodies that wonderfully accentuated Black Thought, Malik B, and Rahzel’s vocals. By the end of the decade, Storch landed a gig as an Aftermath player for Dr. Dre and lent that same talent to a literally key hand on 2001 single “Still D.R.E.” By the early 2000s, the sunglasses-wearing producer laced a #1 hit for Terror Squad, supplied both 50 Cent and Ja Rule with fire, and gave Lil’ Kim a re-branded return to raw raps. In this same period, he went back to The Roots and gave them an electronic bone-marrow transplant on tracks like “Don’t Say Nuthin'” and “Duck Down!.” Besides his keyboard gifts, Scott made synthetic music sound alive, with special effects, knocking drums, and straight-to-the-dance-floor energy. From Lil Wayne to Ice Cube, Big Boi to Chamillionaire, the South Florida-based producer was highly sought out. Storch has had an ear for hits as proven as any in the last 15 years, with the ability to switch in and out of genres without sacrificing his trademark sounds. In addition to having an accessible reach to the upper-crust of the charts, Scott is among Hip-Hop’s most prolific, ever. At his mid-2000s zenith, Storch placed upwards of 60 songs per year.
So who is the better producer? Make sure you vote above.