In an intriguing essay for Complex.com, writer Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin) makes the case that Nas’ Illmatic impacted hip-hop in a negative way because it ushered in the practice of multiple producers working on one album.
“Before Illmatic came out, rap albums were created the same way albums across all genres are created: With one artist or group and one producer (sometimes a team) who create a singular vision. Think about all the classic rap albums from the ‘80s…” he writes, before listing classics from Public Enemy, NWA and even early 90’s gems by The Wutang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest that were handled primarily by one producer or team with a singular vision. By contrast, Illmatic boasted a dream team of five different producers for a mere nine tracks and changed the way hip-hop albums were done from that point on.
“I always joke with Nas and tell him it’s his fault, that Illmatic caused a problem,” No I.D told Ahmed, corroborating his thesis. “Before that, when I started doing music, there wasn’t a concept of, ‘I could work on a Public Enemy album,’ or an Ice Cube album, or A Tribe Called Quest, or Gang Starr. It was a closed issue. You didn’t submit a beat to Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth.”
I encourage everyone to read the full article HERE, but have a question for the producer community. Clearly many producers would prefer to work with an artist exclusively to craft a cohesive project, but where would that leave the freshman, up-coming producers looking to break in? Dame Grease and P Killa locked down most of DMX’s debut but left a slot or two for a young Swizz Beatz and look what he did with THAT assist. The multiple producer formula definitely has its flaws and has produced some lackluster albums, but has it not also opened doors as well? What about the added revenue a group producer can make “freelancing” for outside groups looking to change it up on a few tracks? And what happens when the group isn’t working on new music or if their relationship is strained? How else are they to make money?