Finding The GOAT Producer: DJ Quik vs. Dr. Dre. 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.
There would be no easily identifiable West Coast sound without today’s contenders: Dr. Dre and DJ Quik. Both born in Compton, California (though five years apart), these two producers gravitated towards many of the same inspirational elements, taking cues from artists like Roger Troutman, Parliament-Funkadelic, and The Ohio Players. Though the two would collaborate frequently, each carved paths through music independently of one another, with Dre making his first permanent mark on America’s consciousness as part of N.W.A., and Quik leveraging a successful solo career from jump before lending his hand to others’ work. But together, these two created and elevated G-Funk, turning a regional trend into a genre-defining element. At times competitive with one another, today, another battle looms. Who’s the better producer, DJ Quik or Dr. Dre?
Quik is the name, and since 1991, it’s been responsible for some of the fonkiest records in Hip-Hop. DJ Quik cut his teeth producing for acts like 2nd II None and AMG, but it was his solo debut Quik Is the Name, 1992’s Way 2 Fonky, and 1995’s Safe + Sound that earned him recognition as a true innovator. After that, he began laying tracks for superstars and partnering with Rap’s most promising voices. Like his opponent Dr. Dre, Quik worked on ‘Pac’s All Eyez On Me and helped introduce the world to Suga Free before broadening his horizons and working with nationwide acts like Jay Z, Jermaine Dupri, Erick Sermon, and Talib Kweli, among others. At its most essential, DJ Quik’s production features top-notch musicality (or “rhythmalism,” if you will) replete with horn stabs, hard-hitting drums, and of course the rawest examples of Funk and Soul one could find. But never compromised was his signature smoothness, and he manages to make the most “gangsta” records sound like syrup. With nine solo albums under his belt, Quik is still way too fonky, amd his 2016 EP with Problem, Rosecrans, is proof positive. Reportedly named after his ability to whip up records in no time, DJ Quik is actually timeless.
From his days with the World Class Wreckin’ Cru in the early 1980s to his Best Rap Album Grammy nomination for 2015’s Compton, Dr. Dre has been consistently present and influential throughout his career as a producer. With N.W.A., he brought reality raps to the forefront of Hip-Hop culture, helping create a soundtrack for what was Rap’s most impactful generation to date. Straight Outta Compton made him one to notice, The Chronic made him one to study, and records on Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle, 2Pac’s All Eyez On Me, Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP, and his own 2001 all made him one to beat – and that was before the 21st century. In the years since, his prowess has helped birth, enrich, or resuscitate careers for 50 Cent, Anderson .Paak, Busta Rhymes, The DOC, Eve, The Game, Jay Z, Nate Dogg, Warren G, Xzibit, and many others whose styles vary greatly. Nevertheless, Dre manages to make his unique imprint coalesce with whatever is put in front of him. From his Electro-Hop beginnings, his prescient sampling of “The Funky Worm” (not to mention The Winstons’ “Amen, Brother”), fluency with synthesizers, live instrumentation, and Soul-leaning sample material, Heads have been in The Doctor’s office for more than 30 years.
So who is the better producer? Make sure you vote above.