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1
The 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Beats of All Time

24. Noreaga "Superthug" (1998)

Producer: The Neptunes
Album: N.O.R.E.
Label: Tommy Boy

The first time we heard this beat, it was truly one of those “What the fuck is that?” moments in hip-hop. The combination of the song’s jagged synth notes, Kelis’ eerie background vocals, and Nore incessantly shouting, “What? What? What? What? What? What?” had a hypnotic, disorienting effect that made us forgive Nore’s nonsensical rhymes and left us wanting more. Plus the record was a result of Pharrell cooking up a beat specifically for Nore, not just selling a beat that had been shopped around.

Although the song is one of Nore’s biggest hits (he later score an even bigger hit by hooking up Chad and Pharrell again on “Nothin”) it’s actually more significant for The Neptunes since it was their breakout song. “Superthug” made them in-demand producers which led them to work with the likes of Jay-Z, Mystikal, and countless others. The Virginia duo went on to become (arguably) the definitive producers of the aughts for not only rap but also pop music.

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