EXCLUSIVE: Guilty Simpson and Small Professor pick their favorite albums by emcee/producer duos.
Upon the release of their new album, Highway Robbery, Guilty Simpson and Small Professor spoke with HipHopDX about other collaborative albums by producer/emcee duos.
Their lists of albums varied, with nods to Gang Starr, Snoop Dogg & Dr. Dre, Soul Position and Madvillain.
Guilty Simpson Selects Albums By The D.O.C., Snoop Dogg & Gang Starr
The D.O.C. - No One Can Do It Better
"This album was undeniable to me," Guilty Simpson said in an exclusive statement to HipHopDX. "The D.O.C put on a rapping clinic. Dre was in his zone and the combo was undeniable. I remember memorizing the lyrics and movements to 'Funky Enough,' similar to how I did with LL [Cool J] and 'I'm Bad.' He had the Rasta style and the crazy voice. If not for his accident, I'm convinced D.O.C. would've impacted everyone's Top 5 list."
Snoop Dogg - Doggystyle
"Yet another flawless victory for Dr. Dre," Guilty Simpson said of the Snoop Dogg album. "This album embodied West Coast music and showcased their crew in a perfect way. Tha Dogg Pound, [The Lady of] Rage, RBX and the rest all had standout moments on the album also. Very dope album."
Gang Starr - Moment of Truth
"Guru and Premo," Guilty Simpson added. "'Nough said. Premo's production was stellar and complimented Guru perfect. 'You know my Steez' still gets the job done."
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth - Mecca & The Soul Brother
"C.L.'s voice and Pete's production is a perfect blend," Simpson said of the album.
Guilty Simpson - OJ Simpson
"Obviously I'm biased, but I think it's the most slept on and that's why it makes my list," Simpson said of his album which was produced by Madlib. "There were a lot of complaints about the skits, but it's the music I judge. Dope album. Pick it up."
Small Professor Picks Albums By Soul Position, Mad Villain & Gang Starr
Gang Starr - Daily Operation
"Really, any of the Gang Starr albums, especially the ones that dropped after Step Into The Arena, could go on this list," Small Professor. "I love them all in their own special way. There's just something about the way this one starts off, with the unorthodox-ass 'The Place Where We Dwell,' and then that stretch starting with '92 Interlude' that goes into 'Take It Personal' and then '2 Deep'? Ugh, and then that chapter ends with '247 365.' It's like a mini-EP inside of the album or something. Had it dropped on its own with a capellas, it would be the exact same thing Madlib and Freddie Gibbs have been releasing so far. Guru and Premier, like most of the groups-pairings on this list, were a perfect match for each other. I'm sure hearing Nas or somebody like that over all the Gang Starr beats would have been dope, but all of their albums are damn near perfect as is."
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth - Mecca & The Soul Brother
"My list is in order by date," Small said. "If I had to choose one of these five albums to take with me on an island, it would be Madvillainy. But in 1992, Pete & C.L. not only delivered one of the best songs of any genre with 'They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.),' they dropped a pretty unfuckwitable album with Mecca & The Soul Brother. C.L. has always been one of the most appropriately-named rappers. His delivery has always been like butter, baby...not no parkay, not no margarine. He perfectly complimented Pete's beats of that era, which have always been lauded for their use of horns, but what I always looked up to as one of the best examples of layering different samples. They went together like Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, when they were cool."
Jeru The Damaja - The Sun Rises In The East
"I always joked to myself that Jeru was the tenth member of the Wu-Tang Clan, as this album sits very nicely alongside Liquid Swords and Tical," Small Professor said. "What set this one apart from mostly everything else at the time was how uncluttered the beats were, culminating of course with 'Come Clean.' The sound of a broken water faucet, some drums, and Jeru. That's it. I also always liked the way they sequenced the album, especially having 'Perverted Monks In Tha House' as a skit and then having the instrumental for it three tracks later. Wish these guys would have done more than two albums together, but ah well."
Soul Position - 8 Million Stories
"Thanks to Twitter, I've been able to tell Blueprint personally that I think he is the greatest rapper-producer to ever do it," Small Professor said "That may be high praise, but not many dudes are capable of doing producing albums in full for themselves, instrumental albums, and albums where they produce the whole thing for other rappers, and Print did all of that in '03 and the next year. On 8 Million Stories however, Print was able to focus solely on the rhymes. His voice, one of the more unique voices in rap, delivered rhymes culled from personal experience about relationships, dead-end jobs, and childhood experiences without ever sounding corny in retrospect like some underground Rap about the same subjects from that era does now. And RJD2, man. Look, in '03, he was also having a pretty great year, but the beats on this project were simply masterful. It all sounded funky, bluesy and soulful without technically being sampled from Funk, Blues, or Soul and all nailed to the ground with some of the best drums I've ever heard. These guys had absorbed the lessons of the earlier one-rapper-one-producer albums on this list and did it just as well."
Madvillain - Madvillainy
"This album is special for me, because I can remember quite clearly that it was one of the most hyped projects of 2004 before it dropped, and I downloaded it and listened to it and thought it was absolute trash," Small Professor said. "Nine times, it was resurrected from the recycle bin, and nine times it was deleted again. But on that tenth listen, something clicked. The beats were never in question. I hadn't quite heard anything like it productionwise yet, at the time, but I knew that Madlib had delivered on his end. When Doom's otherworldly performance finally sunk in, I also eventually came to understand that these two complimented each other like few other duos have. They brought out the best in each other to the utmost degree. To this day, 10-years-old next year, it doesn't feel like two guys made that album. It sounds like one person's brainchild. That may not be the goal for these kinds of projects, but it's a pretty special thing to achieve."