REVOLT TV presents ‘The Produce Section,’ a column where we put the spotlight on the men and women behind the beats we love so much and their contributions to the culture as a whole. From profiling and interviewing the hottest producers of today to acknowledging the greatest producers of all-time and delving deep into their discographies, The Produce Section is the hub where beats, rhymes and life connect.
Producers have long been the backbone of rap music, providing emcees and rappers alike with the sonic backdrops over which they bare their souls and share their stories. Rap artists may get much of the fanfare and are front and center. However, without the producer toiling away behind the scenes, crafting the instrumentals; the lyrics would be reduced to spoken word and hip hop would be nonexistent as we know it.
In this edition of “The Produce Section,” we cover Rick Rock, one of the premier boards-men out of the west coast who’s been associated with some of the biggest rap artists of the past two decades. Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Rock would relocate to northern California, where an association with producer Mike Mosley would lead to placements on albums by 2Pac, E-40, Richie Rich and other Bay Area luminaries. However, his profile would take a boost in 2000, when he expanded his reach beyond the west coast and began working with artists based out of the east.
First on the agenda was JAY-Z, who handpicked him to contribute to his fifth studio album, The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. That led to Rock working with other talents and it resulted in some of the biggest hits of the producer’s career. Today, with more than two decades in the game under his belt, Rock remains a fixture in the rap world and continues to add to his legacy one track at a time.
In this latest installment of our series, we highlight 11 of Rick Rock’s most iconic beats that define his excellence behind the boards. Check them out below.
1. “Ain’t Hard To Find”
Among the first tracks to gain Rock notoriety was this standout from 2Pac’s All Eyez On Me, which included additional production from Mike Mosley. Featuring appearances from D-Shot, B-Legit, C-Bo, Richie Rich and E-40, this posse cut was an early indicator of the producer’s musical abilities.
2. “Change the Game”
By the year 2000, Rock’s reputation as one of the west coast’s rising beat-smiths put him on the radar of JAY-Z. Lacing Hov with the second single from The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, Rock’s connection with his east coast counterpart resulted in this top 10 rap hit.
3. “Squeeze First”
Cooking up this bouncy backdrop at the behest of JAY, the finished product would coax the Brooklyn don in to putting forth a lyrical showing that earned rave reviews from die-hard and casual fans, alike.
4. “I Don’t Do Much”
After dominant showings on the cuts “Change the Game” and “Parking Lot Pimpin’,” Beanie Sigel enlisted the Cali rep’s services for the instrumental from his sophomore album, The Reason. Steeped in west coast funk, this backdrop presented Sigel’s more leisurely side and is considered one of the Broad Street Bully’s most memorable deep cuts.
5. “Can’t Deny It”
Building on his trend of lacing Brooklyn emcees with smash singles, Rock crafted this single from Fabolous’ debut album, Ghetto Fabolous. The track paired the spitter with west coast crooner Nate Dogg. With Nate taking a page out of 2Pac’s playbook on the hook, and Fabolous announcing himself as the new prince of the NYC rap scene, this banger made the producer one of rap’s most sought after.
Of all of the artists that Rock worked with, none can match the rapport he had with E-40, who he collaborated with for upward of two decades. One of the duo’s more popular tracks is this single from the Bay area legend’s Grit & Grind album, which connected the rapper with then-newcomer Fabolous for a round of slick talk.
7. “If I Could Go!”
In 2002, Rock collaborated with radio personality-turned-rapper Angie Martinez on the lead single from her sophomore album, Animal House. Featuring guest spots from Lil Mo and Sacario, the track was the highest-charting single of Martinez’s rap career and stands as an underrated gem.
8. “Make It Clap”
A riff from Barry Manilow’s 1973 hit “Could It Be Magic” gets hijacked by the beat-maker for this festive number, which was released as the lead single from Busta Rhymes’ sixth studio album, It Ain’t Safe No More... Peaking at No. 14 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart, this production helped cap off a career-defining year for the weft coast-based maestro.
9. “I Know What You Want”
Known for his trunk-rattling soundscapes, Rock took a different approach with this sultry composition. The track was the second release of the producer’s contributions to Rhymes’ It Ain’t Safe No More... album. Turning out to be a seismic hit and peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, “I Know What You Want” accounted for one of Rock’s most successful placements to date.
10. “Breathe, Stretch Shake”
In 2004 -- five years after the release of his latest rap album at the time and his abrupt retirement to dedicate his life to Christianity -- Ma$e’s return to the music world was highly anticipated. Despite his comeback album, Welcome Back, receiving mixed reviews, his knack for radio-friendly singles like this Rock-produced club banger was a testament to the producer’s trusted hand as a reliable beat-smith.
11. “Rider Pt. 2”
In 2008, Rock lent his talents to G-Unit by producing this fan favorite from the crew’s Elephant in the Sand mixtape. The beat initially used on the song was actually from “Where Them Hammers At” by 40 Glocc. However, when it was repurposed by 50 Cent and company, it became so hot on the streets that it was later included on G-Unit’s third album, T.O.S.: Terminate on Sight.