Songs with crazy beats

Songs with crazy beats DEFAULT

Real music heads live for a good beat switch. How those diversions are executed is everything though. As usual, the ones with less flaws live rent free in people&#x;s minds, especially hip-hop fans.

Most fans remember their first time listening to Kanye West&#x;s song Famous, which quickly emerged as one &#x;Ye&#x;s G.O.A.T. tracks thanks to the beat breakdown when Sister Nancy's dancehall song "Bam Bam" sounds off. The track was finessed by nearly 10 different producers and serves as proof that having multiple sets of hands in the pot isn&#x;t always a bad thing. The same thing can be said for Travis Scott and Drake&#x;s diamond-certified hit Sicko Mode, which tapped five different beat architects to turn one song into three. Or Kendrick Lamar's track "The Heart Part 4," which can be credited to four respective producers.

Build-up production transitions have a special place in the heart of hip-hop as well. There&#x;s a reason why Meek Mill&#x;s   Dreams and Nightmares (Intro) is respected as one of the best openers in rap. Similarly, that feeling is also why Tee Grizzley&#x;s First Day Out,  released in , has the same cultural impact.

Some beats are mutated to fit the mold of a featured artist, exemplified on tracks like The Game&#x;s song The Code featuring 21 Savage or A$AP Rocky&#x;s track Electric Body featuring "L.A.'s Puffy" ScHoolboy Q. On both tracks, the transition from point A to point B is so seamless that a listener will look down at their phone to see if the song changed.

No matter how they come, a good production switch-up is everything. Today, double songs aside, XXL spotlights these perfectly executed hip-hop beat transformations that take you from one sound to the other. Here Are 25 Perfectly Executed Hip-Hop Beat Switches. You can listen to them below.

  • "The Heart Part 4"

    Kendrick Lamar

    Kendrick Lamar called on producers Syk Sense, Axlfolie, DJ Dahi and The Alchemist to build the capricious beat of his ode The Heart Part 4. On the five-minute song, K-Dot bobs and weaves through the differing composition styles that go from pacifying soul samples to roaring trap production. Multiple beats are used to bolster this song, but everything is undeniably cohesive and that&#x;s what makes this record and its dynamic sounds elite.

  • "Famous"

    Kanye West Featuring Rihanna

    Kanye West&#x;s  The Life of Pablo album cut Famous houses one of the most fiery beat switches in rap. The encompassing production&#x;laced by &#x;Ye, Mike Dean, Havoc, Noah Goldstein, Charlie Heat, Hudson Mohawke, Plain Pat and Kuk Harrell&#x;has a few layers to it, from the string-heavy backdrop that accompanies Rihanna&#x;s chorus to the Sister Nancy beat breakdown around the two-minute that samples her song "Bam Bam" and Nina Simone&#x;s "Do What You Gotta Do. All of the above are executed seamlessly despite the varying tempos and flavors.

  • "Electric Body"

    A$AP Rocky Featuring ScHoolboy Q

    No one is denying that A$AP Rocky&#x;s music holds some of the best beat transitions in rap. Take for example the track Electric Body featuring ScHoolboy Q, on the Harlem rapper&#x;s sophomore album,  At. Long. Last. A$AP. The roping Hector Delgado-made beat launches with a combination of warped piano keys and a simple drum pattern. But as ScHoolboy chimes in for chorus duty, the production switches to something more far more melodic. Throughout the song, new sounds are dropped in, all fitting properly under the same umbrella.

  • "First Day Out"

    Tee Grizzley

    The beat of Tee Grizzley&#x;s track First Day Out can be credited to Detroit&#x;s own producer Helluva Beats. The record, inspired by Meek Mill&#x;s classic Dreams and Nightmares (Intro), goes from calming chords to a rapid-fire key composition that leads the booming beat drop. In a very polished way, this song is the definition of going from zero to And its perfect execution is the reason why it&#x;s among the best post-prison release rap songs of all time.

  • "Sicko Mode"

    Travis Scott Featuring Drake

    Travis Scott and Drake&#x;s diamond-selling hit Sicko Mode is three songs in one. To accomplish the seamless transitions on this rollercoaster of a beat, there are five sets of hands in the production pot including those of Hit-Boy, OZ, Tay Keith, Cubeatz and Rogét Chahayed. With an all-star team like that, the reactionary beat switches provide one of the best moments on the first listen of Travis' Astroworld album. And to this day, the production ricochets are certain to get you hype as a powerful rap song should.

  • "Track 6"

    Ty Dolla $ign Featuring Kanye West, Anderson .Paak and Thundercat

    For every Ty Dolla $ign project, there&#x;s a song or two that propels the quality of a good beat transition. On his latest album, 's Featuring Ty Dolla $ign, the BoogzDaBeast, TY$ and Damn Jones!-produced beat for Track 6 featuring Kanye West, Anderson .Paak and Thundercat goes from rap&B vibes to a rock-centric one, led by a primary electric guitar progression midway. Though both sides can stand as singles on their own, the change is so smooth that it doesn't even feel like the beat switches.

  • "The Code"

    The Game Featuring 21 Savage

    The Game&#x;s 21 Savage-assisted track The Code, which arrived in , starts with an angelic soulful sample but once 21&#x;s part comes in, the Prince, Tec Beatz, Big Duke and Titus E Johnson-laced beat takes a new shape. To fit the Atlanta rapper&#x;s street style, the beat changes around the three-minute mark with trap inspiration to sound like something straight off his Savage Mode album. Working around the featured artist has nothing but positive effects, as you can hear on this one.

  • "Flex"

    Playboi Carti Featuring Leven Kali

    The spacey Kasim Got Juice and J. Cash Beats-crafted beat of Playboi Carti&#x;s track Flex will put you in a dream world. The production switch-up created to accompany Leven Kali&#x;s part has a chef&#x;s kiss'' effect in the way that its harmony is transcendent. Around the two-minute mark, the meme of Pooh Bear leaving his body comes to life as the song slows and takes yet another transition. That&#x;s the reason why this is still one of Carti&#x;s best songs in his catalog.

  • "Cokewhite"

    Goldlink Featuring Pusha-T

    As one of the most underrated entries on this list, Goldlink and Pusha-T&#x;s collab Cokewhite features a pristine beat switch between Push&#x;s part and the Crew rapper's rhymes. Just over the one-minute mark, the track uses high-pitched strings to hasten the beat. If you remember listening through Goldlink's album, Diaspora, for the first time, you probably looked down to see if the song changed after hearing this transition. And that speaks to the flawless work of Fwdslxsh, Md$ and P2J for laying the foundation.

  • "Fake Names"

    Freddie Gibbs and Madlib

    Freddie Gibbs is good for bodying a good beat switch, especially when he has someone like Madlib to lace it for him. Their  Bandanacut Fake Names has a classic transition just before the two minute mark that will make your face scrunch. The alteration is a quintessential example of boomeranging between two different sounds. With almost 30 years in the game, Madlib flexed his seasoned sauce with this one.

  • "Stats"

    Baby Keem

    Baby Keem&#x;s track Stats" erupts with a grungy beat that&#x;s fit for his freestyle flow. But right as your head starts to bob a minute in, a new, classy sound is pump-faked before going back to the original feel. Thanks to production from Keem himself and producers Keanu Beats and Kal Banks, Stats is interrupted with soft piano keys. It aptly reverts back to the trap-heavy vibe again to end the record, and features a new beat in the second half.

  • "Never"


    If you ask the streets or your social media timeline about the best beat switches in rap, it&#x;s guaranteed that multiple people will respond with that of J.I.D&#x;s song Never. Halfway through this standout song, the Christo and Childish Major-crafted production is separated with a record scratch before introducing a much more striking, whistle-heavy counterpart. Notably, it's smooth sailing here on the journey from point A to point B.

  • "Come Thru"


    There were plenty of Drake-focused beat switches we could have utilized for this list, but none quite rival the memorable one on the  Nothing Was the Same album classic Come Thru. The B-side track, credited to Drizzy&#x;s right-hand producer 40, is initiated with a mid-tempo rhythm, but as the song ends, the beat is decelerated and distorted as the repeated word through helps to accentuate the sound. Like the beginning of Crew Love or the breakdown on Take Care, the change provides one of the best moments to come from listening through the 6 God&#x;s song archive.

  • "Dreams and Nightmares (Intro)"

    Meek Mill

    Meek Mill&#x;s Dreams and Nightmares (Intro) is rightfully regarded as one of the best preludes for an album, Dreams and Nightmares, in hip-hop history. The Tone the Beat Bully-produced beat begins with enchanting piano keys, but around the one-minute-and- a-half mark, assisted by the proper placement of a Maybach Music Group tag, the combative beat fires off and Meek&#x;s energy catches up to pace. Everything about this one is about as infectious, accepted and fit for any occasion, from parties to championship sporting events.

  • "Finale"

    Young Money

    Young Money&#x;s first label compilation, We Are Young Money, in , flexed the prowess of each artist, especially on the album's last song Finale. For all 10 verses, the beat is adjusted to match the delivery, tone and flow of whoever the focus is. For Drake&#x;s part, the clapping snare is much louder to highlight his witty bars. For singer Shantell&#x;s part, the melody is emphasized to accompany her euphonious belting. And for Lil Wayne&#x;s outro, the beat adopts three different molds to let the head honcho shine in every way. It&#x;s quite the challenge to make one beat work for a near dozen acts, but producers OnHel and Infamous hit the ball out of the park with this joint.

  • "Interstate 10"

    Mustard Featuring Future

    Mustard&#x;s Interstate 10, a track featured on his album, Perfect Ten, is configured with two divergent flavors. The first is a Latin-inspired, guitar-driven foundation that Future sharply pokes his bars into. And the second, positioned as an outro, provides a slow, sedated backdrop for the Atlanta rapper to croon over. The transformation is nothing short of amazing. Attention to detail like this is what makes the production trio of Mustard, GYLTTRYP and Justus West a force to be reckoned with.

  • "G.O.M.D."

    J. Cole

    Every top-tier artist knows how to zig-zag through any beat. On J. Cole&#x;s track G.O.M.D., he doesn&#x;t shy away from the switch-up at the end of the song. Instead, he embraces it by punching in even more quotable bars as the record&#x;s Afro-inspired soundscape unpeels another layer. The breakdown sets up part one perfectly for part two. That respectable nod can be given to Cole himself, who&#x;s proving that he&#x;s just as nice on the boards as he is with the pen.

  • "Pressure in My Palms"

    Aminé Featuring Slowthai and Vince Staples

    The first half of Aminé's song, Pressure in My Palms featuring Slowthai and Vince Staples, is bold and abrasive. But the second half takes the form of an alter ego that&#x;s much more chill and spirited. The Pasqué-laced beat, co-produced with Aminé, stuffs two two different tastes into one dish. Like something sweet and salty, both sides mesh into each beautifully and benefit from one another.

  • "Proud of U"

    EarthGang Featuring Young Thug

    EarthGang&#x;s entire major label debut album Mirrorland is packed with beat reworks. But none compare to the perfect switch on Proud of U. The Young Thug-assisted track, produced by Olu, sheds its bubbly DNA for a sped-up breakdown toward the end of the track. It eventually goes back to square one without you noticing, which is a feat in itself.

  • "GNAT"


    Eminem deserves a standing ovation for the way he floated through the D.A Got That Dope-designed beat of his song GNAT. The first three quarters of the record are packed with a replicated guitar string progression, but that beat switch at the end, backed by what sounds like a xylophone and a trumpet, is what takes the cake. Other than the quick gunshot effect, you would have to slow this beat down to hear the point of the transition. That&#x;s how it should be.

  • "YSIV"


    Songs like 's Soul Food or 's Midnight are obvious choices when we&#x;re talking about beat switches finessed by Logic. But Bobby&#x;s track YSIV is among the best that there is to discuss, too. The boom-bap production style, credited to DMV producer 6ix, adopts a new mold midway through the record. Impressively, it will catch you off guard like all established beat alterations do at first, making it deserving enough to be planted on this list.

  • "Baptiize"


    The beat of Future&#x;s Baptiize, released on his album, Future Hndrxx Presents: The Wizrd, is a multi-layered wonder. Tag-teamed by Southside and Fuse, the production interpolates the Atlanta rapper&#x;s DS2 gem Slave Master near the halfway mark. If that wasn&#x;t powerful enough on its own, the following seconds feature another switch-up that any trapper would have a field day with. The song in its entirety is built strong enough to be a classic on any Future project. Trust that.

  • "Santeria"


    Pusha-T's "Santeria," off his Daytona LP, will force your head to knock on impact. The Mike Dean and Kanye West-constructed beat samples Soul Mann & the Brothers' "Bumpy's Lament" for the first minute, but a few seconds after, Shake's voice can be heard stealing the show. After her a cappella and some additional words from Push, a gritty beat falls into place. Shake's singing is the transition from beat to beat. Without a doubt, great minds know how impactful that could be.

  • "Worldstar"

    Childish Gambino

    Childish Gambino's album, Because the Internet, is widely regarded as a modern day rap classic. But as evidenced on his song "Worldstar," that salute cannot be given without keeping the production in mind. The beginning of the metronome-driven beat changes drastically by the end of the song, which adopts a jazz pattern that's fronted by a saxophone. Producer Ludwig Göransson and Gambino delivered something special with this transition.

  • "Self Care"

    Mac Miller

    OK, you knew that this one was coming. Mac Miller's  Swimming album hit "Self Care" is split by tempo and note scale. Just over the three-minute mark, the standout song is reduced to something much more tranquil while keeping its calming energy consistent. To get from the beginning to the end, producers DJ Dahi, ID Labs and Nostxglic didn't complicate the transition. In this case, the abrupt switch works well.

  • Bonus: "Nights"

    Frank Ocean

    Though Nights by Frank Ocean, on the hip-hop singer's album, Blonde, isn&#x;t a rap song, we can&#x;t talk about perfectly executed beat transitions without mentioning the iconic one on this song. Many words aren't needed to express how valid the transition is from part one to part two, but what can be said is thank you to producers Vegyn, Michael Uzowuru, Buddy Ross and Frank himself for their production duties.


The 10 Greatest Hip-Hop Beats of All Time

Lil Wayne, "A Milli," produced by Bangladesh

Perhaps the most influential beat of the 21st century, this Bangladesh banger single-handedly started a new wave of trap that took the early innovations of Atlanta cats like Shawty Redd and DJ Toomp to the future. Nothing more than a hypnotically repetitive patois vocal sample (from a ridiculously obscure Tribe Called Quest remix) over an drum kit, it's ridiculously simple, but you could freestyle over it endlessly. That rat-a-tat snare breakdown is the probably most copied drum fill in recent memory.

9. Jay Z featuring Amil and Jaz-O, "Na What, Na Who?," produced by Timbaland

Timbaland has always had a genius knack for crafting beats that sound like they're from the future. Some have become outdated, but the one that still sounds the most like the year was given to Jay Z for his classic "Na What, Na Who?" With its strobe synths and stuttering drums, Timbo provides a sonic template with pockets of silence that Jay fills with a constantly shifting meter. The chemistry is evident to this day.

8. Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell, “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” produced by The Neptunes

Since the beginning of their reign as two of rap’s greatest creative minds, the Neptunes’ Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo proved to be masters of both minimalism (Clipse’s “Grindin’”) and maximalism (Gwen Stefani's colossal "Hollaback Girl"). But their best instrumental slots in the latter. With "Drop It like It's Hot," the Virginia duo provided a breathable landscape comprised of fingersnaps, mouth clicks and a Juno synth that combined to form a beat that harnessed the pure keyboard sounds of the '70s and surrounded it with highly experimental percussion that paid off.

7. Puff Daddy and the Family, “All About the Benjamins,” produced by Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie

Puff Daddy typically leaned on his production group The Hitmen to mine samples from ‘60s and ‘70s records and flip them into shiny bucolic fare (Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money Mo Problems,” Puff Daddy’s “Been Around the World”). But the peak of The Hitmen’s output came with “All About the Benjamins,” helmed by Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie, who slowed down a guitar lick from Love Unlimited’s “I Did It For Love” and made it the centerpiece atop whizzing percussion. It was dizzying and satiating, all at once, playing background to some of the finest bars from the Bad Boy crew.

6. Wu-Tang Clan, "C.R.E.A.M.," produced by RZA

The backdrop for Wu-Tang's most iconic song, this beat exemplified RZA's ridiculously prolific peak period. His dusty, rich soul samples -- here courtesy of the Charmels' "As Long As I've Got You" -- inspired folks like Kanye West and Just Blaze, and the drunken drum loop popularized swinging drums in an age of quantized, clockwork boom-bap. It all came together on "C.R.E.A.M.," a smear of organs, church-y wails, and an unforgettable piano melody that perfectly represented the bleak hood nightmares described by Raekwon and Inspektah Deck. 

5. Mobb Deep, “Shook Ones Part II,” produced by Havoc

Mobb Deep’s Prodigy and Havoc spun a dark world for their classic debut The Infamous, with an even darker sonic landscape -- chalk it up to Havoc’s keen ear for gritty samples that pull together sounds from different records. It was with “Shook Ones Part II” that he perfected his craft, pulling from songs by Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and Daly Wilson Big Band to create a menacing late-night instrumental that seamlessly coalesced with the pair’s tale of turf wars and chest thumps.

4. Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg, “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” produced by Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre has consistently doled out classic beats for his own albums as well as sets from a wide range of artists like Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani and Eminem. Nothing epitomized the West Coast G-Funk sound more than “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” which established instrumental and percussive conventions that still dominate the area’s sound today. Recalling the funk sound of Parliament Funkadelic and interpreting it in the rising genre of hip-hop at the time, the instrumental served as the undisputable foundation of an entire movement.

3. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)," produced by Pete Rock

This may have been the first hip-hop beat that could make you cry. And not just because of the inspiration behind it -- the senseless, unexplainable death of a close friend (Heavy D backup dancer Trouble T.R.O.Y, who died in a freak accident on tour). Sampled from a Tom Scott cover of Jefferson Airplane's "Today," the instrumentation -- a filtered bass line, choir and saxophone -- introduced a new moody impressionism to rap beats that would inspire producers like Kanye West and J. Dilla later on. Producer Pete Rock was always known for his horn loops, and here he chose exactly the right one.

2. Nas, "NY State of Mind," produced by DJ Premier

DJ Premier is arguably the best hip-hop producer of all time, and this may he his finest beat, and the one that represents him the best. He was raised in Texas before moving east, but his mid '90s work -- particularly on Nas' flawless Illmatic debut -- basically exemplifies the classic New York underground sound that folks like Joey Bada$$ idolize to this day. It's been called "boom bap," and the drums that start this classic Nas highlight (arguably the best album opener of all time) could very well be the inspiration for the term. It features also another Premier signature -- one of his weird, unidentifiable monotone chirps, sampled from who knows where -- and then the piano riff fades in, as sinister as the darkest Queensbridge stairwell. There's no escape from the street scenarios it inspired Nas to describe -- or this unforgettable beat once it gets into your nodding head.

1. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, "The Message," Produced by Ed Fletcher, Clifton "Jiggs" Chase and Sylvia Robinson

Old school hip-hop's greatest instrumental masterpiece, and the best sample-free rap beat ever, made before the innovations of folks like Steinski, Rick Rubin and Marley Marl brought loops to the forefront. The mix of cascading synthesizers, guitar plucks and timbale fills was the perfect backdrop for what's widely hailed as the prototype for sociopolitically conscious rap. Twelve years later, Ice Cube would jack the beat pretty much in entirety for "Check Yo Self," another hit with something to say. How's that for timeless?

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The Hardest Rap Beats of All Time

Every genre has its own way of going to loud and heavy extremes. But rap production has a somewhat abstract set of criteria for judging how hard a beat can be, and how a track can make the MC on it sound like an unstoppable Man of Steel. Maybe the drums sound like they&#x;re going to punch through the speakers. Maybe the bass feels like it&#x;s going to shake you out of your chair. Or maybe an obscure sample with a piercing, high-pitched tone takes the energy of the track to another level. Through the aforementioned techniques, and more, hip-hop&#x;s greatest beatmakers, from Dr. Dre to RZA to Just Blaze, have pushed the genre forward. They&#x;ve done so in part by showing us new ways to make a looped rhythm track sound like a solid, immovable object, or more likely, a steadily pounding mechanical piston.

From Rick Rubin&#x;s rock-rap anthems of the &#x;80s to the Swizz Beatz synth bangers of the &#x;90s to the bombastic Just Blaze soul beats of the s to the Lex Luger trap tracks of the s, the most aggressive hip-hop hits of each era have their own unique texture. The Neptunes&#x; minimalism can be just as hard as The Bomb Squad&#x;s noisy wall of samples. The handclap from Lil Jon&#x;s can cut through the air just as sharply as a snare that DJ Premier lifted from a &#x;70s funk record. Sometimes, a shouted M.O.P. or DMX chorus helps amplify a beat&#x;s intensity. Other times, calmly delivered rhymes by T.I. or Biggie contrast beautifully with the frenetic energy of the track and let the production speak for itself. While some of these songs crossed over to the pop charts, others remained favorites of real rap heads and connoisseurs. Regardless of their ultimate fate, these are the hardest rap beats of all time.

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