The Formula: Season 1 See music through a mastermind's eye.

Babyface's gift was "to be able to see what was special in me," says Karyn White, who had hits with the songwriter and producer in the late 1980s. Since then, he has shaped the sound of R&B via a string of collaborations. Here, he performs in 2015 with Ariana Grande, much of whose debut album, Yours Truly, he produced Ringo Chiu/Getty Images hide caption

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Ringo Chiu/Getty Images

Unlike most super producers, Salaam Remi doesn't have an identifiable sound he loans out to various acts. He's better known for mining a sound from each act he works with that, in turn, becomes their signature sound. NPR hide caption

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NPR's series The Formula features five acclaimed hip-hop producers breaking down how they use sampling to create new classics. NPR hide caption

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Sampling Ain't Dead: Hip-Hop Producers Break Down The Formula

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DJ Premier is a purist at heart. He picks samples based on feeling and the beats he creates from them are all about honoring that vibe. That lineage has played out from his parents record collection growing up in Houston to his own expansive discography over the last 30 years. NPR hide caption

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Spinning records backwards was once condemned as satanic. But when DJ Dahi reverses samples — or alters his voice — to produce hits for the likes of Pusha T, Kendrick Lamar or Childish Gambino, it's a ministry of texture and sound. NPR hide caption

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Kendrick Lamar in 2013. "Money Trees," from Lamar's 2012 album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, is a song "that consumes the oxygen and alters the ultra-violet," writes Jeff Weiss. Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images hide caption

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Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

Kendrick Lamar performs at the 2017 Coachella festival. Though his 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly wore its jazz influence on its sleeve, 2017's DAMN. displays Lamar's deep investment in the way jazz can evolve. Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images