MERCURY REV- The Dark Is Rising
The role of the producer went far beyond its normal reaches to, in some cases, rival in popularity and star power with the artists they supervised. Timbaland; The Neptunes and Dr. Dre were the real builders of the current state of pop; R&B and hip-hop music. But every other genre had its studio wizards defining the sounds of our time. Ten of the most significant ones, after the jump.
The name of the former bass player in Mercury Rev became synonymous of lushly arranged indie. Stars from the whole spectrum of the genre formerly known as alternative came and requested his baroque magic. Among his most notable achievements this decade we find The Flaming Lips’ “Yoshimi”; Mercury Rev “All Is Dream”; Mogwai “Rock Hard” as well as albums for Sparklehorse; Low; The Delgados; Luna; Café Tacuba; Sleater-Kinney’s farewell album “The Woods” and MGMT’s acclaimed debut “Oracular Spectacular”.
YEAH YEAH YEAHS- Gold Lion (Diplo Remix)
The Philly DJ and producer who jumped to fame after his “Piracy Funds Terrorism” mixtape launched the career of M.I.A., forged a style championing street music trends from all corners of the globe; releasing them under his Mad Decent imprint or throwing them into his unique mixes and productions, which sold like hot cakes among the western’s middle classes. The already mentioned M.I.A; Santogold; Spank Rock or Amanda Blank were some of his better known works as a producer. The list of his remixes reads as the A-Z of who was cool in the noughties, from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Radiohead.
50 CENT-In Da Club
Dr. Dre spent the whole decade delaying the release of “Detox”, the follow-up to “2001”, already branded as hip-hop’s equivalent to “Chinese Democracy”. The mild reception of his latest album may have prompted the notoriously perfectionist rapper to indefinitely postpone his new work, focusing on production duties instead. The careers of Eminem; 50 Cent; Mary J. Blige and The Game benefit from his remarkable talents; recently he also teamed up with Raekwon in parts of his ‘Only Built 4 Cuban Lynx II’.
Coming from the post-rock scene of Chicago in the nineties, Jim O’Rourke established himself as a multitalented recording artist, producer, mixer and studio engineer on many of America’s most challenging leftfield projects; collaborating with the likes of Sonic Youth – he became a permanent member of the band; Joanna Newsom; Wilco; Beth Orton; Bobby Conn; Stereolab and even Italian extravagant singer Franco Battiato.
MARK RONSON FEAT. GHOSTFACE KILLAH, NATE DOGG, TRIFE & SAIGON-Ooh Wee
The British wunderkind launched his career in the US with a star-studded hip-hop album that failed to sell many copies. Back in the UK, he became involved with the current pop-rock scene. His career breakthrough came after producing Amy Winehouse’s classic “Back To Black”; flaunting a slick blend of retro-soul and pop that has become a major influence in British chart music since. His confirmation as producer and recording artist came with “Versions”, a successful cover album in which friends and collaborators such as Lily Allen, Maximo Park or Kaiser Chiefs offered their vocal talents.
The regular producer of Radiohead’s output saw his profile rise to infinity after the band launched his ground-breaking “Kid A”. Since then, high-flyers such as Air; Beck; Paul McCartney or Travis demanded his services. His prestige was so widespread that he was put at the controls of Band Aid’s charity classic “Do They Know Its Chrismas?” on its latest update.
MAXIMO PARK-Apply Some Presure
A former singer and guitar player in the band Lomax, Paul Epworth reached his career peak when he became entangled with some of the bands launching the so-called angular sound. The revisiting of the post-punk era injected a burst of vitality into the UK scene and Epworth seemed to be in all the right places at the right times. Debut albums by Bloc Party; Mäximo Park, Futureheads and The Rakes cemented his reputation. And work with Babyshambles, Friendly Fires, The Big Pink, Florence + The Machine and Annie among many others has kept his flame alive to date.
CLIPSE FEAT. PHARELL- Grindin’
The duo composed by Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, alongside Timbaland, were the maximum example of star producers. Their beats were chased by every hip-hop, R&B and pop star worth its salt. The pair also maintained several recording monikers, with N*E*R*D being the most popular, but their success couldn’t compare with the relevance of their work at the studio. Tracks by Kelis; Jay-Z; Usher; Clipse; Britney Spears; Air; Gwen Stefani; T.I.; Busta Rhymes; Nelly; half of Justin Timberlake’s solo debut and part of the late rebirth of Snoop Dogg’s career all feature prominently in their CV. Even heavyweights such as The Rolling Stones, Madonna or Daft Punk called The Neptunes for a remix.
TIMBALAND FEAT. KERI HILSON- The Way I Are
Arguably the biggest (and best) producer of the last ten years, Timbaland upgraded himself from cutting-edge hip-hop beatmaster, hailed for his collaborations with Missy Elliott; to a million dollar per track, non-stop hit making pop machine. His work’s trademark feature layers of keyboards heavily indebted on 80’s techno-pop. Albums by the late Aaliyah; Jay-Z’s “Blueprint” and Justin Timberlake contributed to his unstoppable rise. Since then, Alicia Keys; Nelly Furtado; Björk; Rihanna and Duran Duran have enjoyed Timbo’s incombustible Midas touch.
In the UK, they have become the emergency choice for artists in need of a hit. The production team formed by Brian Higgins and Miranda Cooper has re-shaped the state of British pop thanks to their unique talent scouting skills. Higgins had his big break with Cher’s global smash “Believe”; since then Xenomania has been behind the hits of Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Annie and St. Etienne among many other pop starlettes.
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