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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27 Responses to “Produce-A-Lot”

  1. Anonymous says:

    no disrespect, but i dont get the topic. they do not deserve to be in a top 5 list of producers imo. yea yea, hate on me 🙂 that gangsta shit aint mine anyway. and those synths sound so cheap often. its all a question of taste, eh? but really, i think there were and are thousands of producers that did and do beats like those.

  2. verge says:

    @anonymous- I think he did some seriously commendable detective work to figure out who actually produced what on these records.
    So, to me, that's what I can appreciate about this post. It takes a real good hip hop/musical ear to break it down like cenzi just did.

    And, not for nothing, but I'm not into gangsta shit myself and I wouldn't put any of these guys on my top 50 list, if I could ever even make a list. But like you said, a matter of opinion.

    I can't front on Geto Boys or a lot of their solo work, though.

  3. Cenzi Stiles says:

    When I wrote this, I knew that it was like giving mercedes keys to a pig farmer. This is mainly an east coast website with splashes of west heat and southern comfort. But still, hiphop is hiphop and fuck it, y'all need to recognize the Rap-A-Lot team, even if you don't like it, at least you just learned a little bit about hiphop history and about one of the most important empires in hiphop: Rap-A-Lot, regardless if you like it or not. you are welcome.

    • J. Black says:

      Amen to this post..game comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. This is a part of hip-hop history. Rap-A-Lot records achieve success despite location or major radio play. And that right there is an achievment within itself. As far as the history of the Producers. John Bido certainly made some funky stuff that I still roll to to this day and much of Rap-A-Lots music still Knocks!

  4. uhuru j. says:

    I liked the post at least

  5. Kay-Em-Dee says:

    Yo Cenzi!

    Big up to you and to the Rap-A-Lot Fam. Your post is both fantastic and educating. More and more guys should get a taste of the Geto Boys and their family. I see you know good what Rap-A-Lot managed to achieve… so keep picking gems and school the younger.

    Gangsta rap? Well…, hell fucking yeah! I don't know what other dudes think, but it's still hip hop. No need to take shots at. There is nothing wrong about it. It's all about entertainment.

    Well done! I'll be waiting for you next Rap-A-Lot article.

  6. Antonio says:

    Excellent post. Mind playing tricks is a fantastic beat, anyway.

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