Dr. Luke’s Pre-Pop, Hip-Hop Production Discography
January 8, 2011
You’ve heard his music, whether you wanted to or not. And you secretly liked it. Again, whether you wanted to or not. Dr. Luke, the pop surgeon whose tracks implant viral melodies in your brain, has produced some of the biggest post-millennial hits including Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone.”
But little known fact: the 37-year-old, whose real name is Lukasz Gottwald, has a not-so-secret past in hip-hop production. A skilled musician in his own right, the NYC native (by way of Rhode Island) held it down as a lead guitarist in the Saturday Night Live band (you read right) from 1997 to 2007, most likely ditching the gig to devote all his time to becoming the pop overlord.
Now that he’s cornered the pop market, let us not forget the past. Below, I’ve compiled his complete hip-hop production, writing and instrumental discography, with Hulkshare links to individual files and a .zip file of all of them at the end. Joints from Mos Def, Black Star, KRS-One, Nappy Roots and more. I omitted more recent songs by Flo Rida, B.o.B and Lil’ Jon because they don’t really qualify as “classic” Dr. Luke rap production. It gets questionable near the end, but fuck it. Enjoy.
Mos Def – “All My People (The Body Rock Party Break Remixed by Dr. Luke)” (1998)
Damn. Straight out the gate and he was applying his remix skills to Mos Def’s “All My People.” Not a bad first high profile gig. This joint first surfaced on the second disc of four-CD series We Are Hip-Hop, Me, You, Everybody, an unofficial compilation of Mos Def joints. Pretty boom-bappy and loop-based, but it’s got a slightly funky sound that bangs. Not bad.
Black Star featuring Common – “Respiration” (Dr. Luke’s Remix) (1999)
Luke puts his electric guitar skills to the test on this smooth remix to Black Star’s “Respiration,” the second single off their ’98 debut Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star. The only thing that varies here on the verses is the drum patterns, while the chorus features the sole inclusion of a sustained synth note. This isn’t complex production by any means. Pretty amateur and uninspired, if you ask me. Guess it was going for more of a vibe kind of thing.
This was originally produced by Keith Horne, who had joints on Onyx albums back in the day, and appeared on ’98’s Lyricist Lounge, Volume 1. But Luke released this official remix two years later under his alias Kasz, and the results were just terrific. You can hear his style and skill progressing. In my opinion, this is superior to the original beat. The only problem with this joint is that I could find two versions. One is pretty lo-fi but plays smooth and the other has skips but is much clearer. Take your pick.
B. Rich – “Nightmares” (2002)
This joint is pretty awful. Mediocre production and herky jerky rhymes. No wonder this dude never took off. Not wasting words here. Yeesh.
Nappy Roots – “These Walls” (2003)
Interesting. This track, which appeared on ’03’s Wooden Leather, is credited to Kanye West on the production tip, and it even has that early Kanye sound. But Dr. Luke apparently had a hand in this record, too. Who knows? Maybe these two crossed paths earlier on. Or maybe Luke just contributed guitar to the track. Either way, I don’t’ really fuck with Nappy Roots for reasons such as this song.
DJ A-Skillz linked up with fellow vinyl-coddler Krafty Kuts for their joint release Tricka Technology. It seems as though Luke had a pretty heavy hand during its conception. He not only contributes to two of the three actual songs here, but he also contributes his vocals by leaving a voice message on “First New Message,” which seamlessly leads into “Party in Central Park.” Not necessarily bad, but this isn’t really a sign of where his style was heading.
Dr. Oop – “Nights Like These” (2003)
This joint was included on Le Black Love Crew’s The Mixed-Kids Album Vol. 2: “Domestic Terre-Ism”. Believe it or not, tracking this LP down was tough. After days of searching (yes, days – this was the final piece to the Dr. Luke puzzle), I clicked on some sketchy link and in a matter of minutes, it had joined the rest of its MP3 brethren on my hard drive. This is the only track that Luke had done with Dr. Oop (also known as Droop Capone), but it makes sense; Dr. Oop collaborated with A-Skillz and Krafty Kuts on a song called “Peaches,” a cut off the same album (Tricka Technology) on which the above Luke-produced joints appeared. Probably a one-off because he happened to be in the studio when laying tracks with A&K. Statement about the track in liner notes: “Submitted for a compilation. They didn’t like it.”
Arrested Development – “Esmeralda” (2004)
I know, right? Who knew these guys had a recording career after they got the Best New Artist Grammy in 1993. E-shrug. Anyway, this one came off their 2004 album Among the Trees, which I assume no one heard. Here’s a reason to check ’em out.
Ebony Eyez – “Real Life” featuring J-Kwon and Tarboy (2005)
Anything related to J-Kwon is doo-doo. Plain and simple. And Tarboy? You fuckin’ kidding me? Whatever. I was never into Ebony Eyez. She always struck me as a less talented version of Shawnna. And that’s giving Shawnna a lot of credit here. Anyways, Luke puts his guitar skills back to work on this surprisingly tolerable song, considering J-Kwon and Tarboy cameo. Off her album 7 Day Cycle, most likely a nod to her career’s longevity.
This is where Luke’s began to transition heavily into pop and leave his hip-hop inklings in the past. We all know “Love Me or Hate Me,” the most intolerable pop-rap-grime hybrid in history, but “Those Were the Days” is redeemable for it. Breezy guitars, nostalgic sentiment – hey, maybe Sov wasn’t so bad after all. Oh wait, she was.
Jibbs – “Firr Az That Thang” (2006)
This is where I draw the line. Jibbs had one hot song and then completely fell off. The song wasn’t even that hot, to be honest. And this isn’t either. Club-geared, tinkering, cheap-sounding. He spelled “fire is that thing” as the song title. Someone exile this man immediately.
Download .ZIP of All Files – Dr. Luke’s Pre-Pop, Hip-Hop Production Discography