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BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time: The Neptunes


#11 – The Neptunes


The Neptunes.

After The Beatnuts, they are the biggest to popularize hip hop/rap production duos.

The synth style and sound that they created completely separated them from the sort of oft-copied keyboard beats style that many sample-based beatmakers grew to hate in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Neptunes style and sound, which is one of the most distinguishable styles and sounds in beatmaking history, featured synth-stabs that ruptured and stacked synth lines, haphazard drums and percussion, dragging bass lines, and rhythms that punched more than bounced. Their signature kick drum that sat in open space rather than tight compression or overly complex frameworks was another unique feature of their style and sound.

The Neptunes became a benchmark production name for beatmakers looking for what to describe the style or sound that they were going after. Indeed, The Neptunes prompted many duplicators and biters (some among the ranks of the well-known and already established beatmakers). But biters aside, The Neptunes continued to churn out innovative and refreshing beats that provoked both dancing and head-bobbing.

If hits are what you like in determining who sits where on any top beatmakers list, The Neptunes are in no short supply. In their prime, a song produced by The Neptunes usually meant a hit radio track. But it wasn’t they made popcorn beats with no bite.

The Neptunes could deliver the candy cane that radio begged for, but they could also rip off something hardcore. “Superthug,” the N.O.R.E song that first brought them to prominence, is a testament to that. And throughout their career, they’ve routinely proven just how aggressive their beats can be. Think of “Grindin'” and the superb but often overlooked “Cot Damn.l

The Neptunes Beats (Songs) Recommended for Study:


“Cot Damn” – Clipse feat. Ab-Liva and Roscoe P. Coldrain beat by The Neptunes

“Allure” – Jay-Z beat by The Neptunes

“Nothin’” – N.O.R.E. beat by The Neptunes

“Excuse Me Miss” – Jay-Z feat. Pharrell beat by The Neptunes

“Grindin’” – Clipse beat by The Neptunes


About Author

Amir Said (aka Sa’id) is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BeatTips. A writer, publisher, and beatmaker/rapper from New York, Said is the author of a number of books, including ‘The BeatTips Manual,’ ‘The Art of Sampling,’ ‘Ghetto Brother,’ and ‘The Truth About New York.’ He is also a recording artist with a number of music projects, including his latest album 'The Best of Times.' Follow him on Twitter at: @amirsaid and @BeatTipsManual