Finding The GOAT Producer: Dr. Dre vs. DJ Muggs. 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.
Synonymous with the West Coast sound, Dr. Dre is one of the producers responsible for G-Funk, a synthesizer-based groove that began in the 1990s. The Compton, California architect brought us 1986’s “Boyz-n-the-Hood,” 1992’s “Deep Cover,” 1993’s “Let Me Ride,” 1995’s “California Love,” and 1999’s “Still D.R.E.” before proving to be just as much of a force in the new millennium. Bringing chart-topping heat to the careers of 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Eve, The Game, and Jay Z, the 21st century has been punctuated by Dr. Dre’s signature Los Angeles technique. DJ Muggs is much the same. The Cypress Hill member helped represent a different side of the L.A. sound, infusing his influence into works by artists including GZA (Grandmasters), House of Pain (“Jump Around”), Ice Cube (“Check Yo Self”), and many others. Of course, “How I Could Just Kill A Man,” “Insane in the Brain,” and a majority of Cypress Hill’s seminal discography will forever be some of DJ Mugg’s most appreciated work. Two West Coast legends, two very distinct styles, but there’s only room for one in the competition.
For nearly 35 years, Compton, California’s Dr. Dre has been a Hip-Hop production pioneer. Not only did Dre’s mainstream injection of melody usher Rap music out of boom-bap, he has thrived in making music with once low-key fledgling acts that became household names. From N.W.A. to Snoop Dogg, Eminem to 50 Cent, D-R-E was behind the boards. Andre Young enlisted an ensemble style that mirrored Quincy Jones and George Martin. Under his tutelage, Cold 187um, Warren G, Daz Dillinger, Scott Storch, Sam Sneed, and Em’ emerged as threats in their own right, while helping Dre. The Death Row co-founder-turned-Aftermath head has made indelible Rap anthems in four different decades that showcase his evolving styles. Dre can sample, and use keys and other instrumentation as effectively as any Rap producer. However, Andre’s mix may be his most overlooked, and yet critical weapon. The DJ knows how to arrange patchwork into something epic, and puts long, gliding movement in music that once matched the tempo of train cars and sidewalks. With some of the most exciting artists of the 2010s, Kendrick Lamar and Anderson .Paak still getting comfortable beside him, Dre continues to evolve, and re-invent himself.
Lawrence Muggerud is a 1980s DJ and producer who found success with The 7A3, before striking it huge with Cypress Hill. While B-Real had an unmistakable voice and delivery, it was Muggs’ intoxicating layers of samples that made the high so addictive. The New York-born, Los Angeles-raised artist made psychedelic Hip-Hop that never pandered. Instead, he deftly blended familiarity with dusty originality. Outside of Cypress, Muggs is responsible for House Of Pain and Funkdoobiest’s biggest hits, in addition to key tracks for Ice Cube and MC Eiht. For the Soul Assassins founder, sales and respect are both towering. By the 2000s, Muggs shifted his style away from overt sampling and into dark, original compositions that allowed MCs to wax poetic moodiness. Whether pepped up, mash-out tracks at the onset of his Grammy-nominated career, or brooding basslines and intricate keys, this West Coast mainstay has endured. While DJ Muggs may not be a household name or face, his discography includes hits that most certainly cause others to dwarf in comparison.
So who is the better producer? Make sure you vote above.