When we talk about our “Top 5” producers, we almost never see the following names: John Bido, N.O. Joe, Brad Jordan, Mike Dean or James Smith.

This production team is behind putting Houston on hiphop’s map. They are Rap-A-Lot’s in-house production team, behind Geto Boy’s classics “Mind Playing Tricks On Me”, “Gangster Of Love”, “I Aint With Being Broke”.


It’s really hard to go through Rap-A-Lot credits, because they don’t detail by tracks, but rather just put “album produced by” and then list off all the names. Those aforementioned names always appear on almost every Rap-A-Lot product, but in different order. Perfect example: 5th Ward Boyz – Ghetto Dope EP. “Producer – James Smith, John Bido, Mike Dean, N.O. Joe”. Echo Leader mentioned this on his Vintage Rap-A-Lot post.

Mike Dean and Devin argue over weed

Sometimes you can tell who did which beat by the sound, for example Mike Dean plays a lot of crisper guitars, so you know it’s him behind quite a few tracks on that Geto Boys “Resurrection” album. Mike also did quite a bit of engineering and mastering for Rap-A-Lot, so his name and sound appears even when his beats don’t.

Brad Jordan

Brad Jordan, better known as the MC Scarface, likes his deeper yet nasal bass, so Menace Clan’s “What You Say” has that signature synth bass that also comes up again in Scarface’s “My Homiez”. He also seems to enjoy slow-roll BPM’s which is fine with me!

MENACE CLAN – WHAT YOU SAYIN’ (dope fuckin track!)


Before we go any further, a perfect example of how they work together is adding Brad’s slow gangsta funk wit Mike Dean’s fascination for hi-figh sounds in Facemobs “Stay True”.


Bido has a dope production style. And he has had a lot of time and experience to perfect it, since he is definitely the first of the group to really put in work for Rap-A-Lot, through “Grip It! On That Other Level” back in ’89. All those dirty vinyl drum loops and soul samples are brought to life through quite a few of his beats. Scarface’s “Street Life” from the South Central soundtrack and Too Much Troubles “Family” show off this resurrecting style.

Geto Boys – Stret Life

Too Much Troubles “Family”

N.O. Joe

N.O. Joe brings more synth sounds, but always with real minimalistic results and his “gumbo funk” as he calls it. A non Rap-A-Lot track that really highlights his production is AZ’s “Doe or Die”, where only during the chorus are there more synthetic g-strings. Scarface’s “Friday Night” from the Friday soundtrack showcases the same style.



They have recycled a few of their own beats for different albums. Maybe they really liked their own tunes? These two have the same piano loops.

Willie D – Die
Bushwick Bill – Ever So Clear

Willie D – Die

Bushwick Bill – Ever So Clear

And with these two, well, it certainly sounds like a “pt.1 and pt.2” situation.

Geto Boys – Straight Gangsterism
Big Mike – On Da Real

Geto Boys – Straight Gangsterism

Big Mike – On Da Real

Those four mentioned are the main musical producers, and I have a feeling that even though we see “James Smith” on production credits, he was probably more of the Executive Producer than the musical kind. James, or Prince J, is the business man/mind behind the whole Rap-A-Lot empire, so it doesn’t surprise me much to see him dipping his hand in the production credits.

Now, mind you that I have only picked the songs that best describe each producers style, but one day I would like to make a Best of Rap-A-Lot, but until then, once again I gotta redirect you to Echo’s recent post “Vintage Rap-A-Lot

— cenzi stiles

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