15. Lil Jon

Associated Acts: Usher, Pitbull, Petey Pablo

Signature Sound: Crunk, a party-ready strain of Southern rap that Lil Jon rode to the top of the charts in the mid-2000s with the East Side Boyz — but his real skill as a producer was translating the aesthetic across the pop spectrum in a way that didn’t sound forced or jammed-in, whether it was for David Banner or Britney Spears.

Defining Work: “Yeah!,” Usher’s enormous 2004 single, in which hip-hop, pop, R&B and crunk collided into one immaculate dance floor filler in which Ludacris correctly points out that “Lil Jon got the beat that make your booty go *SNAP*”.

Hidden Gem: Snoop Dogg’s 2004 album R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece is best known for hits like “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and “Signs,” but “Step Yo Game Up,” a deep cut featuring Lil Jon and Trina, is pure, exuberant crunk that deserved just as much shine. — J. Lynch

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