By Rob Markman
Behind the Beats: Hit-Boy
Here’s a challenge: place all of Chauncey “Hit-Boy” Hollis’ beats in a single playlist, take a listen and try to find some common threads. Besides the name in the production credits, there aren’t too many sonic similarities in Hit-Boy’s celebrated productions. “That’s been my whole thing ever since I started producing,” Hit-Boy told Mixtape Daily of his musical diversity. “I look up to Scott Storch, like when he came out he was doing Beyoncé, he was doing Chris Brown, he was doing Fat Joe. None of his music sounded alike, but it just sounded like the highest echelon of that genre, and that’s what I want to do.”
The kinetic bleeps and bloops of the Throne’s “N—as in Paris” prompted Jay-Z and Kanye West to record an inescapable rap anthem, while the track for Kelly Rowland’s “Lay It On Me” was composed of all the summery sounds that make any pop record enjoyable. The beat for Rihanna’s island-inspired “Watch n’ Learn” perfectly complements her West Indian roots, the bassy “Come on a Cone” gave Nicki Minaj the rap cred she so eagerly sought on Roman Reloaded, and Kanye West’s “Way Too Cold” simply sounds like nothing we’ve ever heard. Earlier this week, Hit-Boy added another twist with “Goldie,” A$AP Rocky’s screwed-inspired single.
Hip-hop greats like Dr. Dre, DJ Premier and the Neptunes all have a signature sound, but in his young career, Hit-Boy looks to avoid predictability. “If I’m making a pop record, I want it to sound like a [producer] who only does pop records. If I’m doing a trap beat, I want it to sound like somebody who only does trap music,” the G.O.O.D. Music producer explained. “I just want it to sound like the highest quality of whatever genre I’m producing.”
A producer’s sonic success can be a gift and a curse, for example after “N—as in Paris” hit #1 on Billboard’s Rap Songs chart, of course other artists came out of the woodwork looking for Hit-Boy to make a similar-sounding track. “Yeah, I get that, but I kinda like try to stay away from it, I just really want to make good music,” he said.
That good music can come in the form of the beat or as a rap. “A lot of people don’t know but I rap, so I got some stuff coming out. Just be on the lookout for that,” he said. “In the next couple of months I’m gonna be dropping some stuff.” Will that stuff be included on Kanye’s upcoming G.O.O.D. Music album? “We’ll see,” Hit-Boy answered sheepishly.