Finding The GOAT Producer: DJ Premier vs. Large Professor. Who Is Better? (Audio)
“Finding the GOAT Producer” begins. The third installment of Ambrosia For Heads’ 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 2 slots will be reserved for wild-card entries, including the possibility for write-in candidates, to insure no deserving beat maker is neglected. The contest will consist of 6 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, 2 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 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.
The first face off is the combination of two producers who got started around the same time, in overlapping Hip-Hop circles. Large Pro is credited as one who taught Preemo how to “chop” samples. However, DJ Premier carries Grammy awards as well as a few plaques more than his close friend and peer. These two sonic masterminds worked in tandem to introduce Nas, Mobb Deep, and Non-Phixion, among others. The two artists who celebrate the same birthday both cut their teeth through Wild Pitch Records, before blossoming to major label contracts and production deals. They are friends, spirited competitors, and two producers who made songs that Hip-Hop uses as its own growth chart. Both products of the same purebred approach, and skills-over-status, this battle sets the latest GOAT bracket off in epic fashion.
For almost 30 years, the name of DJ Premier has been synonymous with “pure Hip-Hop.” From Guru to Biggie to Nas to Jay Z to Big L to Mos Def, Christopher Martin has been the silent partner who has transformed budding rappers into the greatest poets of the twentieth century. While the crisp scratches of other voices, accentuated sound effects, and steady tempos have evolved throughout the Gang Starr producer/DJ’s career, the penetrating percussion has been a constant. From the smooth, all-knowing Guru and Big Daddy Kane’s of Rap to the angst-ridden M.O.P. and Screwball’s, Preemo calculates the composition. His music naturally syncs to the bounce of urban train cars, the bops of street toughs, and the pumping heartbeat of B-Boys and B-Girls, globally. By the mid-1990s, the producer affectionately called “Preemo” had co-piloted several acclaimed albums and singles with Gang Starr. However, through outsourcing his sounds to Biggie, Jay, and Nas, he lifted a sewer plate that allowed curious ears a pathway to the fertile underground. Jermaine Dupri, Limp Bizkit, D’Angelo, Kanye West, and countless others would recruit that sound at the pinnacles of their own careers—each producers in their own right. The greatest lyricists within the history of Hip-Hop largely have this collaboration in common. With a new studio and a tireless work ethic (and a new group, PRhyme), Preemo continues to mount a legacy that is hard to earn.
Large Professor would be making thick basslines and slicing down elements from his crates long before Heads heard his voice on Kool G Rap’s “Money In The Bank” (a song he produced). However, as much as any producer in Hip-Hop, the early Extra P contributions are shrouded in mystery and controversy. The pupil of the late Paul C. was hired to complete Eric B. & Rakim’s Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em LP when his mentor was murdered as recording was underway. However, Large Pro’ never received specific credits for that, and other albums out of that camp. Even so, P’s hand in works like Main Source’s Breaking Atoms, Nas’s Illmatic, and his own deeply-delayed The LP alone make a strong case for GOAT status. When he is at the helm (especially his own material), he shines. The Professor is a sample scholar, who has excavated and re-assembled grooves that complement MCs brilliantly. Like his own rhymes, P encourages the artists around him to maximize cadence, storytelling, and imagery. The creator layered his samples on top of each other to create Hip-Hop mosaics. The artist has been key to remixes by Common, Beastie Boys, Slick Rick, and his own records. This is an artist whose early 1990s work is the real-time pivot between the Golden-Era book-ends of 1988 and 1996. Paul injected the melody, while programming samples as percussion. He has presented music that reworks Hip-Hop’s dustiest inspiration to its most colorful possibilities. After nearly 30 years, Large Pro is still cutting down samples at an atomic level, and arranging them to explode in your sound-system.
So who is the better producer? Make sure you vote above.