100 Greatest Drummers of All Time

From rock thunder machines to punk powerhouses, we count down the kings and queens of slam

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Chris Dave

95. Chris Dave

"My worst nightmare Chris Dave is his drummer," Questlove told an interviewer in advance of D'Angelo's 2012 live comeback. "You need the most dangerous drummer alive on that tour." While not a household name, the unassuming 42-year-old R&B specialist known as Daddy is legendary among those in the know. Much like a Cadillac hood ornament or a Tiffany logo, a Chris Dave credit on a session is a mark of pure class; he appears on some of contemporary pop's most high-profile albums, including Adele's 21 and D'Angelo's Black Messiah. Though he came up idolizing jazz greats like Tony Williams — and, later, channeling those inspirations in his astonishing work alongside improv aces such as Robert Glasper — he has made his deepest impact as a drummer acutely attuned to the stutters and hiccups of sample-based hip-hop. Dave's great gift is for creating ear-bending beats, often realized on a tricked-out kit with as many as five snare drums, that still blend in beautifully with an ensemble texture.

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