While it reached it's "golden age" in the '80s, hip-hop peaked sonically and creatively in the '90s.

Gone was the heavy reliance on James Brown samples, as producers like Pete Rock, DJ Quik, Erick Sermon and Q-Tip began to dabble regularly in deep jazz cuts and old soul samples to fill their production desires.

The '90s also witnessed a lot of pioneering acts enter the scene—from Wu-Tang Clan and Snoop Dogg to A Tribe Called Quest and OutKast. And with the emergence of these genre-defining groups came a new sound that has continued to stamp hip-hop.

We've weeded through some of the most influential hip-hop producers of the '90s to choose the producers whose sonic marks defined the decade. So while prolific producers like Mannie Fresh emerged in the 90s, producing every Cash Money album to drop during that time, his mark was undeniably most notably felt in the '00s, as Cash Money began to dominate hip-hop's bling era— which is why he's not on this '90s list. The same can be said for Pharrell and the Neptunes, who obviously emerged in the '90s (first introduced by Teddy Riley) but who dominated the 2000s, defining the sound for that decade and beyond.

The producers on this list are undeniably '90s and marked the sound of the decade with their contributions, which, in many ways, continue to impact hip-hop to this very day.




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