Hip-hop has been an impactful force that only continues to grow upward. At it's barest roots, the DJs - not the "hit the shuffle on the playlist" imposters - are largely responsible for the growth of the genre. Since the mid-80s when scratchin' was more than just a hobby, pioneers such as DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash innovated and transformed the shape of hip-hop and helped to push it to the forefront of popular music.
Not only were they responsible for incorporating old-school soul records, DJs created an atmosphere of fun. In the early stages, B-boys and B-girls would break dance over beat breaks. But that beat break also allowed MCs to freestyle and impress the crowd.
Tthe terms DJ and producer have been synonymous with each other. It's not to say that every single producer DJs, but the most elite beat conductors are familiar with turntablism.
In February 2017, out of nowhere, legendary producers Just Blaze and Swizz Beatz held an impromptu battle in front of an intimate crowd of "who's who". People from Busta Rhymes to Alicia Keys to Ebro were there to witness this historic event. For nearly three hours, Just Blaze and Swizz went back and forth for the internet's pleasure.
Everything, I mean EVERYTHING was played from their impressive list of production credits. A true performance from two of the realest to ever do it. There were grumblings about additional beat battles between other major producers, but nothing has happened as of late.
I'm just trying to type this into existence and hope for the best: WE NEED MORE DJ BATTLES TO HAPPEN IN 2018 AND BEYOND.
Televised, live-streamed or ticketed events could be highly lucrative, plus it would be another evolution of entertainment for the hip-hop culture. I picked five potential battles (with links of samples from each person's catalog, broken up in 2 sections: "Hits" and "live chops") that would be incredible to see.
Pharrell vs. Mike WiLL-Made It
One of the best to ever do it versus one of the best in the game right now. I can't even categorize this as a matchup between new school and old school because this nigga Pharrell is always ahead of his time and immortal. Mike WiLL is just as innovative when it comes to pushing the envelope with production. It would be interesting to see these two producers duel because of the range and versatility of their styles. One track could just smack you across the face because of the sheer power of the drums and their very next selection could leave you even more off balanced because of how unusual the sound it.
Hits: Pharrell: Frontin' ft. JAY-Z, Mike WiLL: Future ft. Pharrell, Pusha T, and Casino - Move That Dope
Madlib vs. The Alchemist
An underground hip-hop fan's dream, Madlib and The Alchemist are highly respected producers with close attention to detail when it comes to creating. They may not have invented sampling, but they are among the elites when it comes to mastering this technique. Alc and Madlib are known for diggin' in the crates to find the most obscure record from years ago to create an interesting new-aged, high-quality beat. It would be a sight to see these two go beat for beat, but the live chops would definitely be the highlight of the show.
Just Blaze vs. Kanye West
Swizz Beatz deserves all the respect in the world for his contributions to hip-hop and music, but what Just Blaze did in that beat battle was just unfair. It felt like Just had home field advantage. Even if the venues were flipped, Swizz would still have had to play catch up. Showmanship and putting on an actual performance by being animated is important but the number of hits Just Blaze had lined up back to back to back were incredible.
For that reason, mixed with his use of the sampler and drum machine, Just was the king that night. Roc-a-Fella's student-turned-professor Kanye West could be the one to knock his crown off. Not only is Ye's production catalog extensive and diverse, his skills on the drum machine are otherworldly. Kanye versus Just Blaze would be a marquee battle for the ages. They can go beat for beat, sample for sample, chop for chop, without dusting each other. Shit might end up in a draw.
Hits: Just Blaze: Erick Sermon ft. Redman - React (S/O to NBA Street Vol. 2), Kanye West: Watch the Throne - Niggas in Paris
Timbaland vs. Metro Boomin
Who knows where this could go! A battle between of one music's all-time greatest producers in Timbaland and one of hip-hop most prolific producers right now in Metro Boomin might end up left of everyone's expectations. I have a feeling these two would focus on the fine details of craftsmanship for a majority of the battle then just end the show with an onslaught of bangers to transform the crowd into a nightclub. Young Metro may have been typecasted as just a trap producer but he has really showed his versatility as of late with his choices of where he wants to take his sound: unpredictable. Timbaland has effortlessly lived in the world of hip-hop, RnB, and pop, always remaining consistent and relevant in his 20+ year career. Timbo may have the slight advantage, but Metro would be a worthy adversary that's up to the challenge.
Hits: Metro Boomin: Kanye West ft. Kid Cudi - Father Stretch My Hands (Part 1), Timbaland: JAY-Z ft. UGK - Big Pimpin'
9th Wonder vs. DJ Premier
We have two of the GOATs of hip-hop production going head to head with each other. Gang Starr's DJ Premier versus Little Brother's 9th Wonder would be a battle that would generate a lot of buzz from old crowds and new. A few speakers may get blown out during this contest. 9th and Preemo obviously know their way around a turntable; their scratchin' performances alone would be worth the price of admission. The broken soulful sample flips during the "live chops" portion would literally put a new spin on old classics. Even though these two are students of the game that rose to prominence in the 90s and 00s, their sound still remains youthful to this day.