A few weeks back I posted up a list of my top rap albums of 2013, which was just a quick post to highlight the albums I was feelin the most as of the halfway point of 2013. I had started writing up a similar post to feature my favorite hip-hop producers at the same time, but it got lost in the shuffle and I just now found the time to finish it off. So here it is, my top hip-hop music producers as of the midway point of 2013. Lets start at number 5...
5) The Doppelgangaz
The Doppelgangaz are a producer/emcee duo, consisting of members EP and Matter Ov Fact, who released their latest album, "HARK!", back in March of 2013. The album is fully produced by The Doppelgangaz themselves and the beats are simply amazing. Many of the instrumentals have a dark, Gravediggaz-esque vibe to them, which is a rare thing in the rap industry today. If you like your beats grimey and dark, look no further than these guys. They are definitely one of the best rap producers in the game nowadays.
Standout Beats - Skin Yarmulke, Hark Back, Oh Well, Barbiturates, Sun Shine
4) Apollo Brown
Detroit producer Apollo Brown has dropped two crazy projects in 2013 so far. The first was the official remix of Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge's "Twelve Reasons to Die" album. The project is titled "The Brown Tape" and is an alternate version of the album, featuring the same vocals as the original but with all new instrumentals by Apollo Brown. Apollo was given mixed down versions of the vocals and drums and asked to build the beats around the story as he interpreted it. The end result was really ill. Having never heard the original Adrian Younge production on the album, the instrumentals give the songs new life and make it feel like its own unique body of work.
Standout Beats - The Center of Attraction, Enemies All Around Me, Murder Spree, The Sure Shot (Parts 1 and 2)
The second album Apollo Brown released this year is a collaboration album between himself, Verbal Kent and Red Pill, titled "Ugly Heroes." The instrumentals on here are really dope, featuring a handful of songs with that classic Apollo Brown feel as well as a few that stray a bit outside of his usual lane. Keeping with the desperate theme of the album, the instrumentals are solemn and depressing, which provides the perfect soundscape for lyrics about the harsh realities of living in these trying times.
Standout Beats - Desperate, Hero's Theme, Long Drive Home, This Is Life, Push
3) Adrian Younge
Speaking of Adrian Younge, his production credits this year have been really dope. His first album of 2013 was "Adrian Younge Presents The Delfonics", which I only heard a few joints from, but they were all really nice. Keeping this strictly hip-hop though, Adrian released his collaboration album with Ghostface Killah, "Twelve Reasons to Die", which is easily one of the best rap albums of 2013. The beats were banging throughout, with each instrumental featuring live instrumentation centered around an Italian horror theme.
Standout Beats - Rise of the Black Suits, The Rise of the Ghostface Killah, Revenge is Sweet, The Sure Shot (Parts 1 and 2)
As far as the rest of 2013 goes, Adrian has announced a concept album with Heiroglyphic's members Souls of Mischief titled "Adrian Younge presents Souls of Mischief." I'm definitely looking forward to what they can cook up together. The album is due out sometime in September and I expect it to be flames.
2) Kyo Itachi
Like most of the producers on this list, Kyo Itachi has dropped two dope collaboration albums this year. The first was an album with Baltimore emcees Dirt Platoon, titled "War Face". The album was fully produced by Kyo Itachi himself and is full of gritty, 90s influenced bangers. The beats have a strong militant feel and remind me of some of the ill instrumentals that 4th Disciple used to lace Killarmy with. The production work is nearly flawless throughout the entire album, especially if you like your beats raw and agressive.
Standout Beats - Dirty Work, Brainstorming, Wage of War
The second collaboration album released by Kyo Itachi was "The Path of Mastery" , with New York emcee John Robinson. As opposed to the more militant, in-your-face feel of "War Face", the beats on this album are laid-back and cinematic. The instrumentals are lush and vibrant the entire way through and are sure to get your head nodding. It's a shame that both "The Path of Mastery" and his album with Dirt Platoon were so slept on by the masses since they each contain a bunch of classic rap songs. Both albums easily solidify him as one of the top hip-hop producers of the first half of 2013.
Standout Beats - All Hail the Honorable, Gritty Trenches, Life Itself, Mastery, War Spelled Backwards
1) The Alchemist
Most people probably could have guessed this one. In the first six months of 2013 alone, Alchemist has blessed us with two full collaboration albums (Durag Dynasty's "360 Waves" and "Albert Einstein" with Prodigy) as well as numerous tracks on other artists albums ("Red Dot Music" with Mac Miller, "Trap Door" with Joey Badass, etc). Though not technically in the first half of 2013, Alchemist also dropped a mini-album/EP a few days ago to correspond with the release of his Limited Edition SSUR X Alchemist Starter Snapback. Add to that the fact that he has four or more releases planned before the end of the year ("Masterpiece Theater EP" with Willie the Kid, "Lord Steppington" with Evidence, "My First Chemistry Set (M.1.C.S.)" with Boldy James and an unnamed-as-of-yet album with Roc Marciano) and you've got my favorite producer of the year, so far.
Standout Beats ("Durag Dynasty") - Tender Greens, 360 Waves, Trailer Mix, Yasir Arafat, Tetrahydrons on Mars
Standout Beats ("Albert Einstein") - Give Em Hell, Death Sentence, Dough Pildin, Bible Paper, Breeze
El-P for his collaboration album with Killer Mike, "Run The Jewels".
Standout Beats - Run The Jewels, Sea Legs, A Christmas Fucking Miracle
Big K.R.I.T. for the beautiful, trunk-rattling production on his "King Remembered In Time" mixtape.
Standout Beats - Shine On, King Without A Crown, REM, Meditate, My Trunk
Esco for his laid-back work on "Somethin' For Tha Listeners", with Epidemic.
Standout Beats - Bringin' It Back, One Life, The Ocean, UNIversALL
7L and Spada4 for their ill instrumentals on "CZARFACE", with Inspectah Deck and Esoteric.
Standout Beats - Air 'Em Out, Czar Refaeli, Savagely Attack, It's Raw
Purpose (of Tragic Allies) for his bangers on "Golden Era Music Sciences" with Tragic Allies and Tragedy Khadafi as well as his beats on Killah Priest's "The Psychic World of Walter Reed".
Standout Beats ("Golden Era Music Sciences") - Without You, Dem Get Murda, Men of Honor, Foul Thesis
Standout Beats ("Psychic World of Walter Reed") - Visionz [one of my favorite beats of the year, period], L-Thianine
Kid Tsunami for his boom-bap bangers on his recently released album, "The Chase".
Standout Beats - Bang Exclusive, Catch Wreck, Art of War, The Chase
Godz Wrath (Jordan River Banks, Ciph Barker, Beat Butcha) for all of their ill production on Killah Priest's "The Psychic World of Walter Reed".
Standout Beats - Shadow Landz, New Reality, Peace God, Think Priest, How I Write
And there you have it. Sound off in the comments section below and let me know your thoughts. Did I get it right? Was I way off the mark? Who are your top producers of 2013 so far? Let me know.