One of the biggest challenges in writing a list of the best beats of all time? The genre’s soundscape is so wide-ranging and incredibly diverse that it creates some difficult calculation issues to work through. For example: How do you rank the disco instrumentals of early hip-hop with the layered samples and filtered bass lines of golden-era New York rap? How do you rank Too $hort’s trunk-rattling bass against Swizz Beatz’s erratic Triton keyboard swipes? There are unlimited measuring sticks by which production can be compared. Consider the clattering, found-sound effects of DJ Premier’s best mid-90s beats, or the raw, drum machine-oriented backdrops of ’80s rap, designed to shock the system. How do you weigh those against, say, a lush vintage loop from The Hitmen or a crossover pop smash from Timbaland?
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