From Matt Graves: Here are six of his story picks on the topic of music producers, the often-overlooked architects of the music we hear and love.
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In her ascent to the pop throne, Rihanna had some unlikely help: a singer from Muskogee, Oklahoma and a two-man team of Norwegian producers. Meet Ester Dean and Stargate, pop’s unknown puppeteers.
2. “Disco Architect: 12 x 12 with Brass Construction’s Randy Muller,” by Andrew Mason (Wax Poetics, Fall 2004)
The true story of how one 18-year-old, born in Guyana and raised in Brooklyn, became the unsung godfather of 1970s disco.
3. “How Copyright Law Changed Hip Hop: An interview with Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Hank Shocklee,” by Kembrew McLeod (Stay Free! Magazine, 2002)
Public Enemy burst onto the 1980s hip-hop scene with a sound unlike anything the world had ever heard. Their groundbreaking beats were supplied by The Bomb Squad, a two-man team who turned sampling into a complex, noisy and compelling new art form that changed hip-hop forever.
Is Philippe Zdar the best producer you’ve never heard of? From Parisian disco and Phoenix’s “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart” to records from Cat Power, Beastie Boys and Cassius, you’ve probably felt his influence, even if you didn’t know his name.
How Arthur Baker, a failed disco DJ from Boston, made his musical mark on the 1980s—from hip-hop (Afrika Bambaata’s “Planet Rock”) and dance (New Order’s “Confusion”), to pop (New Edition’s “Candy Girl”) and rock.
From Kanye’s “Yeezus” and Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” to Johnny Cash’s cover of NIN’s “Hurt”, Rick Rubin has been the music world’s (mad)man behind the curtain.