In honor of the DVD release of the DJ battle film Step Off, Paste asked several of the film’s creators to choose the greatest hip hop beats of all time. Here’s the knowledge they dropped on us:
Laron Austin (Director)
Jack the Rippa (LL Cool J): One of the greatest battle beats ever. Kool Moe Dee didn’t have a chance once this beat dropped.
Won’t Do (J Dilla): R.I.P. J-Dilla! One the greatest underground producers of all time. His 2006 Album “The Shining” is classic.
Feelin’ It (Jay Z): Ski Beatz helped make Jay Z a success with this plus three other tracks on his debut “Reasonable Doubt”.
Halftime (Nas): Large Professor just makes tight straight ahead Hip-Hop.
Bennie Swint (Producer)
Rock the Bells (LL Cool J): A game changer, it gave Hip-hop street credibility. This is when Hip-hop stepped away from the punk/funk movement of the late 70’s and got some dirt on its shoes!
Bonita Applebum/Electric Relaxation (A Tribe called Quest): They took two American Art forms Jazz and Hip Hop and blended them to make an incredible sound.
Mass Appeal (GandStarr): DJ Premier likewise takes jazz and hip hop and just makes it work. He also brought producing back to its roots with the scratching and great blends.
C.R.E.A.M. (Wu Tang Clan): Just when you thought Hip-hop was going pop, RZA brought it back to the streets.
They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.) (Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth): I guess you can say I like the jazz/hip hop mix…Jazz and Hip-hop brings the world together, and breaks down the social and racial barriers. Without jazz there wouldn’t be a Martin Luther King, and without Hip Hop their wouldn’t be a Barrack Obama.
Eddie Singleton (Writer/Producer)
Lyrics of Fury (Eric B. & Rakim): Simply the best use of the Funky Drummer ever, it doesn’t hurt that Rakim is the greatest emcee in the world as well.
Boomin’ System (LL Cool J): This Marley Marl classic perfectly captures the feel good vibe one gets cruising in your car to dope music on a great stereo.
It’s Funky Enough (The D.O.C.): The title says it all; Dr. Dre brings the funk and enough hard beats to satisfy anybody.
MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know (KRS-One): Primo and KRS? These two greats should be required to work together every year so we’ll always have classic material.
ATLiens (OutKast): Smooth southern Hip-Hop, proving it can be done as well in the deep south as anywhere else.
Martin Kelley – (Writer/Producer)
Rebel Without a Pause (Public Enemy): The Bomb Squad created such a visceral sound combined with Chuck D’s authoritative vocals that just riveted you every time but this one is my favorite.
The Definition (Black Starr): Bringing back a classic BDP beat was bold and really an ideal fit for Mos Def and Talib Kweli to kick off their fantastic collaboration.
’93 Till Infinity (Souls of Mischief): Laid back yet still capably propels the highly kinetic rhymes from this west coast crew. It sneaks up into your consciousness and never goes away.
Rockin’ It (Fearless Four): What do you know about Old School? This is one of the truly great Old School beats of all time. Re-used later by M.C. Lyte and Jay Z to great effect but this is the original and still the “freshest” version of that beat.
Planet Rock/Perfect Beat (Soul Sonic Force): Planet Rock will rock the dance floor 900 years into the future and Perfect Beat foretells the importance of beatmaking in the world of Hip-Hop. Afrika Bambaataa was an originator after all.