What good is a god emcee without dope beats? The majority of production credits on RD go to Ski, DJ Clark Kent, and DJ Premier—a familiar cast of East Coast producers who'd already established themselves producing bangers for other rappers before Jigga came along. Meanwhile, apart from one track each by Trackmasters, Timbaland, and Eminem, the bulk of TBP was crafted by a cast of up-and-coming or unknown producers: Bink! (“The Ruler’s Back,” “All I Need”), Just Blaze (“Girls Girls Girls,” “Song Cry”), and Kanye West (“Izzo,” “The Takeover”).
Although its sonic palette includes funk and soul samples, RD is best known for the jazzy sound exemplified by records like “Can I Live” and “Politics As Usual.” As dope as these records were, the whole hip hop jazz thing was hardly a new concept. In the 1990s, everybody from A Tribe Called Quest to Gang Starr to Digable Planets was assuring us that they had the jazz.
Meanwhile, in the late ‘90s/early 2000s, the prevalent sound of hip-hop were the hard-edged synth-driven beats provided by superproducers like Timbaland, The Neptunes, and Swizz Beatz. Of course Jay had already made classics with those producers prior to recorded TBP, but TBP gets props for introducing the innovative use of sped-up soul samples—as heard on tracks like “U Don’t Know” and “Heart of The City.”
How many established platinum rappers would be willing to let an unknown (which is what Kanye was at the time) produce their album’s first single? Jay’s bold move proved to be sheer genius as both Yeezy and Just Bleezy would go on to become two of rap's greatest producers ever. Before too long, everyone was begging Kanye to do their single and Just Blaze was giving nothing but heat to the rest of the Roc-A-Fella camp, making their crew the hottest in hip-hop.
Ultimately, RD is still a well-produced album that’s aged extremely well after 15 years—but one that relied on a tried-and-tested formula. On the other hand, TBP was a visionary step forward that's had a lasting impact on hip-hop.