To this day, The Backpack Rap Collection is the second most popular compilation ever released on Uggh…Nice Watch. It’s an era that inspires a lot of nostalgia amongst those who came of age in the period between 1995 and 1999. Producer and songwriter Shawn J. Period’s jazzy, futuristic beats were a central part of the burgeoning backpack rap movement, until he disappeared from the game at the peak of his prominence.

Shawn, whose real last name is Jones (hence the J. Period), was a native of Richmond, Virginia who started a rap trio called Down South after moving to NYC in the early ’90s. The group signed to Big Beat/Atlantic in 1993 under the tutelage of A&Rs Rob “Reef” Tewlow and Stretch Armstrong. Their debut, Lost in Brooklyn, was a flop, but Shawn’s talents as a producer did not go unnoticed. Between 1995 and 1997, he was recruited to contribute music to high profile releases by Da Bush Babees, Artifacts, DJ Krush, Mad Skillz, Heltah Skeltah, and his most famous collaborator, Mos Def. Shawn produced both sides of Mos’s debut single, and the two teamed up on Black Star’s album the following year.

At some point in the late ’90s, it seems as if Shawn accepted God into his life, and things started to change. Soon he was feeling conflicted about working with artists who used profanity, and started to rethink the his reliance on using samples in his music. “Even before I accepted [God], I was conflicted,” Shawn told Practice Video Magazine in 2004. “I’d go and sample a loop—it’d be a one bar loop, and I’d put some stuff on top of it. Then it’s like, ‘Ahh, you don’t need to clear that, it’s too obscure.’ But always, my morality came in.”

Around 1998 he stopped using samples altogether, and leaned on two tools that he was less experienced with: synthesizers and live instrumentation. The results were mixed, as he tried to develop a stripped-down MIDI jazz groove, a bit like an underground answer to Swizz Beatz’s Casio loops. He produced a few memorable records during this period, like Mos Def’s “Body Rock,” but his sample-free sound lacked the richness of his pre-1998 work. By 2000, Shawn had effectively dropped out of the industry to focus on family.

He started periodically popping up again around 2005, working on the occasional jazz fusion instrumental or Christian rap album, but Shawn has yet to stage his big comeback in the secular rap game. Regardless, his catalog is an impressive and interesting listen. Revisit 30 of Shawn J. Period’s best compositions by downloading or streaming the Uggh…Nice Watch compilation…



Thanks to their work with Timex Social Club and Club Nouveau in 1986, Oakland natives Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy became known as one of the most innovative producer/songwriting teams in the R&B business. Along with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, they were responsible for laying the early groundwork for what would become New Jack Swing by mixing hip-hop, electro, go-go, and pop rhythms into the more traditional R&B recipe.

Their early success with singles like “Rumors” and “Situation #9” gave them the power to sign and make hits with a slew of Bay Area acts, including Tony! Toni! Toné! (Foster & McElroy produced their entire debut album in 1988), Samuelle (they wrote his #1 R&B hit “So You Like What You See”), and, most famously, multi-platinum phenomenon En Vogue.

As usual, Foster & McElroy won with En Vogue by injecting unexpected influences into their music, mixing the image and harmonies of ’60s girl groups like The Supremes with modern hip-hop. Their 1990 platinum debut Born To Sing produced the #2 pop hit “Hold On,” which made brilliant use of James Brown’s “The Payback,” one of hip-hop’s go-to breakbeats at the time. En Vogue’s triple-platinum sophomore album, Funky Divas, made them certified crossover stars, producing three top ten pop singles and garnering five Grammy nominations (not to mention the honor of performing the Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper theme song, which was also produced by Foster & McElroy). Spend some time appreciating the catalog of these R&B icons with Uggh…Nice Watch’s compilation of 30 Foster & McElroy gems…




1. Santigold Master of My Make-Believe
2. Schoolboy Q Habits & Contradictions
3. Sleigh Bells Reign Of Terror
4. Kendrick Lamar good kid, m.A.A.d city
5. Brandy Two Eleven
6. Future Pluto
7. Jessie Ware Devotion
8. Rick Ross Rich Forever
9. Iggy Azalea Trapgold
10. Miguel Kaleidoscope Dream
11. Wiz Khalifa Taylor Allderdice
12. Tame Impala Lonerism
13. Solange True
14. Beach House Bloom
15. Roc Marciano Reloaded
17. Frank Ocean channel ORANGE
18. Ka Grief Pedigree
19. Action Bronson & Party Supplies Blue Chips
20. Purity Ring Shrines
21. Mac Miller Macadellic
22. Heems Nehru Jackets
23. Ab-Soul Control System
24. Nas Life Is Good
25. Grimes Visions

1. GOOD Music “Mercy”
(Produced by Lifted, Mike Dean, Mike WiLL Made It, Hudson Mohawke)
2. Future “Turn On The Lights”
(Produced by Mike WiLL Made It)
3. Miguel “Do You…”
(Produced by Jerry Wonda, Miguel & Arden “Keyz” Altino)
4. Nicki Minaj f/ 2 Chainz “Beez in the Trap”
(Produced by Kenoe)
5. Elle Varner “Refill”
(Produced by Pop)
6. Schoolboy Q f/ ASAP Rocky “Hand On The Wheel”
(Produced by Best Kept Secret)
7. Solange “Losing You”
(Produced by Dev Hynes)
8. French Montana f/ Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne “Pop That”
(Produced by Lee Beats of The Amazinz)
9. Frank Ocean “Pyramids”
(Produced by Frank Ocean, Malay & Om’Mas Keith)
10. Kendrick Lamar “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
(Produced by T-Minus)
11. Sky Ferreira “Everything Is Embarrassing”
(Produced by Dev Hynes & Ariel Rechtshaid)
12. Chief Keef f/ Lil Reese “I Don’t Like”
(Produced by Young Chop)
13. Usher “Climax”
(Produced by Diplo)
14. El-P “The Full Retard”
(Produced by El-P)
15. Rihanna f/ Future “Loveeeeeee Song”
(Produced by Mex Manny, Luney Tunez & Future)
16. Best Coast “Up All Night”
(Produced by Jon Brion)
17. 2 Chainz f/ Drake “No Lie”
(Produced by Mike WiLL Made It & Marz)
18. M.I.A. “Bad Girls”
(Produced by Danja)
19. Miguel “Adorn”
(Produced by Miguel)
20. Nicki Minaj f/ Chris Brown “Right By Your Side”
(Produced by Pop, Oak, Flip & JProof)
21. Twin Shadow “Five Seconds”
(Produced by Twin Shadow)
22. Nas “Bye Baby”
(Produced by Salaam Remi & Noah “40” Shebib)
23. Bruno Mars “Locked Out of Heaven”
(Produced by The Smeezingtons, Mark Ronson, Jeff Bhasker & Emile Haynie)
24. Rick Ross f/ Drake & French Montana “Stay Schemin'”
(Produced by The Beat Bully)
25. Jai Paul “Jasmine”
(Produced by Jai Paul)

The DJ Paul & Juicy J Collection
The Perry Collection
The Nile Rodgers Collection



New York City had no shortage of marquee hip-hop producers in the late ’80s and early ’90s, so perhaps it’s no surprise that Hitman Howie Tee a.k.a. Howard Thompson often gets overlooked when discussing the golden era’s key composers. Best known for creating stars like Chubb Rock and Special Ed, Howie was instrumental in paving the way for the new wave of hip-hop that took hold of NYC in the mid-to-late ’80s. Queens had Marley Marl, and Brooklyn had Howie Tee, the borough’s biggest name brand producer at this pivotal time.

After getting his first taste of the industry in 1983 as a DJ, keyboard player, and producer for electro rap group CD III, Howie stuck close to fellow Flatbush natives UTFO and Full Force. The crew were were suddenly thrust into the spotlight when “Roxanne, Roxanne” inspired the “answer record” meme of 1984, and Howie became the DJ sidekick/producer to Full Force’s new female rapper, The Real Roxanne.

Howie developed a fruitful relationship with Roxanne and UTFO’s label, a burgeoning independent called Select Records. Thanks to his work with Select throughout the late ’80s, including classics for his cousin Chubb Rock and Flatbush teen Special Ed, Howie ushered Brooklyn hip-hop out of the old school drum machine era and into the new world of multi-layered funk and jazz samples that would epitomize hip-hop’s golden era.

He realigned himself with Uptown Records in the early ’90s, where he achieved massive crossover success with R&B group Color Me Badd and signed another Flatbush teen, Little Shawn. His clout faded in the mid-’90s, but Howie’s indelible influence on hip-hop had already been made. Experience his underrated catalog with this compilation of 30 Howie Tee bangers…



For the last decade, hip-hop has been dominated by a sinister 808 sound that’s weaved its way through crunk, trap rap, and everything within their orbits. Sadly, Memphis duo DJ Paul & Juicy J don’t get enough credit for helping to develop and popularize this aesthetic in the early-to-mid ’90s, despite all their fame and noteriety as the core members of Three 6 Mafia.

As producers, they took Southern club music from the celebratory spasms of Miami and New Orleans to a dark place, both thematically and sonically. Starting in 1991, their underground mixtapes, both solo and together as Triple Six Mafia, expanded on the ominous promise of “Triggerman,” creating a local sound that M-Town could call its own. By throwing gangster rap and horrorcore influences into the mix, they were instrumental in creating the first hardcore Southern rap sound east of the Mississippi.

They rose to national prominence in the wake of No Limit’s success, signing a distribution deal with Relativity Records for their label Hypnotize Minds. I’ll never forget listening to 1997’s Chapter 2: World Domination for the first time in the dorm room of a high school friend from Memphis, and being blown away by how weird it sounded to my East Coast ears.

In the 2000s, their music got bigger, goofier. They won an Oscar by producing a bad song for a good movie about a pimp. They had a pretty entertaining reality show on MTV. But through it all, they deserve credit for staying true to their core sound in a way that few successful hip-hop producers have. They’ve rarely produced for artists outside their circle, they’ve never signed an R&B artist, and they’ve never really strayed from the gritty gangster rap that they came up on.

Simply put, DJ Paul & Juicy J planted an important sonic seed that spread out everywhere across the South. Without them, there would be no Drumma Boy, there would be no Shawty Redd, there would be no Lex Luger. DJ Toomp and Lil Jon might still be making Miami-style bass records if the Triple Six had never come along. I combed through the archives to assemble this compilation of my favorite works by Paul and the Juice Man. Enjoy…



Korean pop music is everywhere these days, but my own introduction to the genre came in 2000 when various college friends exposed me to the era’s K-Pop hitmakers, who are now considered “old school.” Amongst all the sappy ballads and cheesy boy bands, the music of YG Entertainment always stuck out to me, particularly the group Jinusean, who completely floored me with their 2001 album The Reign. I didn’t need to speak Korean to appreciate the big, neck-snapping beats that gave the duo’s hip-hop drenched LP its distinctive sound. I soon discovered that an artist named Perry, who rapped on several of the LP’s tracks, was also the producer responsible for creating its music.

Although he’s one of the most influential figures in modern Korean music, Perry Borja is not Korean. A native of Modesto, California who was raised by Chammorro immigrants, Perry was exposed to the burgeoning West Coast hip-hop scene in the ’80s before relocating to his family’s native country Guam as a teenager. It was there that he began making music with high school friend Noh Seung-hwan (a.k.a. Sean), who would serve as Perry’s introduction to the Korean music scene after his group Jinusean became the marquee act for veteran Yang Hyun Suk’s new label YG Entertainment.

In the early ’90s, the notoriously traditional Korean music scene started opening up to modern Western music, thanks to pop groups like Seo Taji & Boys (of which Yang Hyun Suk was a member) incorporating elements of hip-hop, alternative rock, R&B, and house into their songs. When Yang started his new label YG, hip-hop became the focus, and Perry became his go-to hitmaker, cranking out 12 stellar albums in 5 years for a variety of artists (including his own solo album). It’s remarkable to hear how effectively he injected the aesthetic of hardcore American hip-hop into YG’s early music, which quickly established the label as one of the “big three” Korean record companies.

Over the last decade, Perry’s output has gradually decreased, as he has evolved into more of a mentor to the new generation of YG hitmakers. But he should be honored by all for pushing the boundaries of Asian pop and helping hip-hop find a home in modern Korean music. Enjoy my compilation of Perry’s best…



Disco is often considered a musical anomaly, a cheesy gimmick that existed on an isolated aesthetic island before dying out in the late ’70s. And while the disco’s direct lineage to house and other later dance music movements is well documented, little attention is paid to the way disco morphed and made its presence felt in New Wave and the pop rock of the ’80s. A fascinating musical figure at the center of this era is Nile Rodgers, the last great disco producer.

Best known as the co-founder of Chic, Rodgers, alongside his partner Bernard Edwards, made some of the most brilliant music of the late disco era. Nile played guitar, and Bernard played bass. Together, they injected new levels of musicality into a genre that was fast becoming cliché, creating in Chic a disco band that thought like a jazz fusion band. They had seven straight chart-topping singles, produced albums for Diana Ross, Sister Sledge and Johnny Mathis, and provided the musical backbone for hip-hop’s first hit record, “Rapper’s Delight.”

After Disco Demolition Night famously kicked off a nationwide backlash, times were tough for disco’s posterboys. A few years later, David Bowie recruited Nile Rogers to produce his “pop” album Let’s Dance, in a clear attempt to capture the NYC cool of Chic’s hits “Good Times” and “Le Freak.” Suddenly, Nile was once again an in-demand producer for white New Wave acts looking to inject some funky dance flavor into their sound. He produced huge hits for INXS and Duran Duran, and the album that made Madonna a true pop icon, Like A Virgin.

Nile continued to explore new musical frontiers, moving into scoring films and video games (his first gig was creating the music for Eddie Murphy’s Coming To America, including the infamous “Soul Glo” commercial). In the ’90s, his records got a new life after the Trackmasters and the Hitmen raided his catalogue for samples, providing the soundtrack for the jiggy rap era’s biggest hits, including “Mo Money Mo Problems,” “Gettin’ Jiggy With It,” “Been Around The World,” and “Cold Rock a Party.” Check out my compilation of 30 songs created by this diverse musical genius…