Finding The GOAT Producer: Erick Sermon vs. DJ Quik. Who Is Better?

“Finding the GOAT Producer,” 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 consists 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) are 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 is editorial about each producer that contextualizes the match-up, as well as sample songs, to help voters in their consideration. There is also a poll in which votes are cast, and readers are 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 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.

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In so many ways, DJ Quik and Erick Sermon are like-minded peers, despite growing up more than 3,000 miles apart in very different circumstances. These 1980s triple-threats were drawn to Funk records, and bringing rich melody to braggodacious raps. Both artists built whole movements around them, and stayed at the helm for their proteges’ best work. Additionally, Quik and E-Double linked up for 2000’s “U Ain’t Fresh,” which was later confirmed to be a subliminal shot at fellow GOAT Producer competitor Dr. Dre. These artists have evolved, without compromising their essence. Both producers keep the work coming and the quality strong, piloting their sounds back into vogue. While it took a tie-breaker to bring Sermon to Round 2, DJ Quik rolled over another Funk formulator in Warren G in Round 1. There is no guarantee what Round 2 will bring, as both of these artists are beloved and well-documented for nearly 30 years, each.

Erick Sermon

Defeated Organized Noize in Round 1 (52% to 48% in tiebreaker vote)

Long Island, New York’s Erick Sermon is cut from the mid-1980s cloth of self-contained album-making. He and EPMD partner Parrish Smith cooked up some of the funkiest Hip-Hop records of their day, care of at least three businesslike albums. Just as the tandem shared the mic, they worked alongside each other behind the boards. The sound was undeniable. However, by the early 1990s, E-Double proved just what he was solely bringing to the table, as he handled the sounds on albums by Redman and Keith Murray (his Def Squad band-mates). Meanwhile, the “green-eyed bandit” stole the show on his sonic contributions to singles by K-Solo, Shaq, and LL Cool J. With some of the thickest drums and most grabbing rhythm patterns in Hip-Hop, Sermon made the sound of the genre sound big, meaningful, and hit the chest of the listener. In the 2000s, with changing trends in Hip-Hop, Sermon adapted through channeling Marvin Gaye for a Pop-savvy tribute. Just as he did for years with PMD, Erick has been able to share the loads with RZA, Dr. Dre, Teddy Riley and others. Amenable and creative, the E-R-I-C-K has been able to not only survive the times, but shift them with a plethora of techniques and the constant belief that Hip-Hop carries its Soul and Funk from the ’70s.

DJ Quik

Defeated Warren G in Round 1 (83% to 17%)

For more than 25 years, as DJ Quik blazed a path for a deeply respected solo career, he supplied the music for so many others. From the onslaught, the Compton, California native born David Blake helped burgeoning artists. Acts like 2nd II None, Hi-C, and Penthouse Players Clique all debuted with Q-U-I-K sounds, typically blends of conjured Funk with enhanced percussion and keys. Like his perm, the MC favored relaxed records, grooves from the late 1970s and early ’80s that did not have some of the same bite of East Coast crates. Meanwhile, those sounds had plenty of mood, and kept bodies and cars in motion. By the late ’90s, Quik was no longer an in-house sound provider. He briefly helped fill Dr. Dre’s vacancy at Death Row. The artist’s work with Tupac, deliverance of Tony! Toni! Toné! to Rap, and supplying a la carte heat to groups like Tha Luniz made him a versatile producer to artists at full stride. In the last 15 years, Jay Z, Erick Sermon, The Game, and Talib Kweli all sought out the DJ-turned-producer. In that time, Quik transformed from a pioneer of a specific sound to a benchmark. Even at times when his name is not on the track, Quik’s influence and is clear as a new generation o artists like YG and Problem follow in his footsteps.

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So who is the better producer? Make sure you vote above.