Finding The GOAT Producer: Dr. Dre vs Puff Daddy & The Hitmen. 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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Throughout the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s, Dr. Dre and Puff Daddy have competed on the charts, as well as in the court of public opinion. Both producers are known to surround themselves with prodigious hands, and use teamwork to make the dream work. They have each mentored some of the most important Rap voices of all-time, and supplied the heat to keep those furnaces going. Once the sonic figureheads of the West and East Coast styles, respectively, Dre and Puff’ now compete for who goes to Round 3. Your vote may settle the score.

Dr. Dre

Defeated DJ Muggs in Round 1 (79% to 21%)

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.

Puff Daddy & The Hitmen

Defeated Noah “40” Shebib in Round 1 (82% to 18%)

When he launched Bad Boy Records, Puff Daddy needed music as colorful as his artists’ wardrobes and videos. The Hitmen were born, modeled after Motown’s Hit Factory, and similar teams at Stax, The Bomb Squad, and Trackmasters. Including its gregarious leader, no one producer would eclipse the team. Consisting of Deric “D Dot” Angelettie, Nashiem Myrick, Stevie J., Sean C., L.V., Carlos “6 July” Broady, Younglord, Ron “Amen Ra” Lawrence, Chucky Thompson, and a rotating cast of others, The Hitmen lived up to their name in the ’90s, 2000s, and present day. Aside from the in-house blockbuster trifecta of The Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death, Puff and co.’s No Way Out, and Ma$e’s Harlem World, this team (in parts) produced hits for Jay Z, Scarface, MC Lyte, and Guerilla Black. Puff and The Hitmen made the dusty craft of sampling mainstream, as they took hits from the ’80s, and made ’em sound so crazy. From David Bowie to Diana Ross to sacred Led Zeppelin riffs, these producers found the epicenter of Pop, using Hip-Hop’s foundation. Simply beyond using source records, Puff and company knew how to keep the people (including themselves) dancing. Just when The Hitmen seemed formulaic, they evolved. Jay Z’s American Gangster comeback had a sound that was not a coke-rush, but a heroin high to go with its stylized approach. With a revolving roster, an evolving sound, and a litany of projects they laid hands upon, the one constant here is the hits.

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