Exclusive: Big Hutch also places the production on "Illmatic" into historical context.
Big Hutch has produced with Dr. Dre and produced material for such artists as Tupac and his own group, Above The Law.
On the eve of Illmatic’s 20-year anniversary, the Pomona, California rapper-producer says that Nas’ debut album required a deft production touch.
“When it’s a concept type of situation, I think that there’s a bigger, deeper process of producing something,” Big Hutch says during an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. "So when you look at a record like Illmatic, and a lot of records from that era, they’re actually produced from the perspective of an artists’ perspective, as if the producer’s an artist. We talk about it with storytelling albums, there’s a thing that has to be set. In order to make records like that, as far as production is concerned, they had to come in and produce as emcees.
“In order to like a Nas in that era, you really had to produce him,” Big Hutch continues. "Regardless of the fact of what his point of view is coming from, in order for you to make a record like that, I think the production part of it was the key thing of it. The producers in that era and that were around that actually had to be in tune with what the emcee was doing.”
Big Hutch, who released his The Big Hit album earlier this month, says that Nas was different than the typical rapper who was releasing material in 1994.
“If you look at the climate of ’94, it was like you were known for being hard,” Big Hutch says. "That was a hardcore time in the industry, basically. I think the significance of that record was that it bridged lyrical depth and hardness. And you couldn’t do that a lot in that era. That had kind of faded out when a lot of the harder stuff came, like Wu-Tang Clan, Above The Law, N.W.A.
“He was never known as a backpack rapper,” Big Hutch continues. "He was always known as a lyrical killing rapper, but he always said shit that was real rooted to the G’est of the G and the hardest of the hardest emcees. He got respect from both ends of the spectrum."