Producer Fantasy Ranking: Preservation

by Dan O

Every song feels like it came from a different world but it knocks right through to your hip hop heart.

This series asks the question ‘if I had the ability to take one of my favorite producers and let them develop a full album with anyone alive who would it be?’ 

This installment is all about the beauty of a perfectly crafted mystery. DJ Preservation has been involved with some of the most important work of my lifetime. My favorite Mos Def album (The Ecstatic ) along with one of the most mystifying first listens I’ve every experienced (Days with Dr. Yen Lo with Ka ). The combination of expertise in international sounds (see here ) and the depth with which Preservation buries a baseline behind a unique combination of elements is new and old at the same time. Every song feels like it came from a different world but it knocks right through to your hip hop heart. An album with Preservation changes the longitude and latitude of your career. Here are the five I would love to see him with, in order. 

  1. Mach Hommy-Hommy feels like a force more than a person sometimes. A mist that exists within whatever container provided. Hommy and Preservation worked together on the song I-78/Capillaries off Eastern Medicine Western Illness both artists are fairly mysterious, releasing projects whenever they want at very high levels having faith that their audiences will get it without elaborate press tours explaining the vision. Hommy keeps his NYness and Haitian heritage together musically in a similar manner as Preservation honors the NY sound and other sounds alongside it. They both value surprising the audience while giving them exactly what they came for. I can’t see a better combination as both are coming off their very best career work.
  2. Quelle Chris-Quelle is a mastermind of straight ahead hip hop sounds and piano. The lessons learned on Innocent Country 2 with Chris Keys informed the consistency of DEATHFAME. Once you learn the lessons completely, what do you do though? When you exist in the Mt. Olympus of MC’s as Quelle does you close the book and find a new one. I staunchly believe Quelle is beyond the point at which he needs sounds to flourish. Quelle can flourish anywhere. The kind of glorious atmospheric discomfort Preservation can bring to a song is exactly where I want Quelle to fill in the spaces with his next story. Tell me I’m wrong?!
  3. Raekwon-If Push is the king of darkness, Rae is the lord of color. While still talking street life Raekwon manages to paint mood on his projects bright and colorful(Shaolin v. Wu-Tang is red, Fly International Luxurious Art is yellow, The Wild is deep faded green). A full Preservation project would allow both brilliant minds to calibrate around each other creating a mathematics new to both. Legacy artists become that when they stop creating new worlds and are forced to live in old ones. Rae should never give up on that and Preservation can help.
  4. I Self Devine-One of my favorite MC’s of all time. Devine feels pain on records whether it is poverty, systemic racism, or anything else troubling the world. Devine synthesizes it into chewable bars with no pretense. The music is critical in his journey to this writing specialty. It has to set him off at the highest level.  2021’s Rituals of Resilience being executive produced by Orko Eloheim was a wonderful restarting of the motor. Preservation could take things to another level.
  5. Pusha T-I love Push. Some people want Push to stop rapping about cocaine and…maybe tell us how to feel about the political landscape or the realities of carbon offset. Not I. My issue is that Push has an old address book of producers. Think of the values his music stands for? If we are looking for steely darkness… Preservation can provide. That darkness will be very different than any Griselda type beats. On top of that, you can hear from songs like Versailles off Aethiopes that Preservation can give you songs that open up and bump. If Push wants to stay the king of darkness and a pop entity Preservation is the ticket for a new leg of the journey. 

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