Producer Fantasy Ranking: Exile

by Dan O

I exist within a subset of people who like the Johnson & Jonson album better than Below The Heavens. You might think that makes me anti-Exile but Black Beans is one of my all time favorite nice weather albums. Soul samples can be used the way Griselda uses them to twist and snarl or they can be used the way Exile works with them. The L.A. underground legend turns a sample in a way that makes you feel like you’ve climbed a mountain and this beat dropping celebrates your feet touching the peak. Few people can make the landscape grander for a lyricist. Some of my 5 picks to do full albums with Exile would fit perfectly others would contrast beautifully.

1. Saba-When I put Saba on this list of possibles I was likely thinking of Care For Me but Saba is in an even more interesting place now. After 2022’s Few Good Things Saba has more flows than ever and a desire to super-size the scale of his narrative story. I want a Saba album without the big name features just Exile and him. Saba can drop big feature heavy albums that fill a popular space well but my favorite Saba albums are opuses, less movie more novel. Exile is the perfect collaborator for that.

2. YUNGMORPHEUS-An absolute treasure of an MC who raps in a hushed confident anger you only get from him. Lyrically YUNGMORPHEUS interacts with race in America like no one else. He spits the venom it yields into our polluted skyline. All the while laughing and bopping along creating new worlds with everyone he collaborates with. Listen to the collaboration with Theravada from last year. I can’t help but think of Exile as the opposite sonic direction from that project and one that would completely stand out as Exile gave us lush YUNGMORPHEUS would strip it back down with will and skill.

3. Mozzy-Another larger than life West Coast figure (from Sacramento) Mozzy is prolific in a very practical way. An absolute elite lyricist he sometimes skimps on beats. I have no idea what he pays his producers but at times the beats are an afterthought. Predictable bounce that his talent overcomes to deliver great work anyway. Exile would provide the blood red tuxedo sound to match the talent of the narrator. Mozzy went from super aggressive street warfare music to forlorn and traumatized post-war music. A new phase is definitely coming in the maturation cycle and the right producer needs to be there to catch it and squeeze every bit of greatness out. Anyone who heard the 2020 Blu & Exile collaboration album Miles knows how good Exile is right now. Mozzy and Exile would fit so much better than you think.

4. Tree-MC Tree is a phenomenal producer himself and has never trusted someone else to completely lace an album. You might think I would put the Chicago blues voice with Preservation since they share a unique sonic identity and ability to make anthems out of darkness. I want opulent vistas of Tree, beats that make his brilliant hooks carry. The mission would be an album so truly irresistible that everyone loves Tree as much as I do. If Exile could give us that, I’d owe him a lot.

5. B-Real-Any recent B-Real guest verse you can find are impactful. One of the most unique voices in the history of hip hop is NOT done and definitely interested in new sounds. Listen to the Back in Black Cypress Hill album with Black Milk. You put B-Real together with Exile you force light into the smoke fog tattooed darkness of B-Reals persona, it would be really interesting to listen to.

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