Hit-Boy sounds like a superhero name when you say it over and over again while talking with his publicists. The same conversation can also make you realize Hit-Boy is currently an “it boy” in production circles. It was his Grammy winning composition, “Niggas In Paris,” that would get the “rewind selectah” treatment on the Watch the Throne Tour; intensifying the frenzy it created each time it was performed. It was also his beat that gave A$AP Rocky his first certified radio smash, “Goldie,” and, most recently, his work on Drake’s new album’s got people excited. Now, with a label deal at Interscope in tow, Hit-Boy is excited to showcase his talent roster, as well as some incendiary sounds for your favorite rapper to spit on. Imagine what he’ll have accomplished by the time he’s a Hit-Man.
So how old were you when you started rapping and getting familiar with music?
I started rapping at 13, 14. My friend was the first person I knew with his own set up to record music so we started a group.
What was the name of the group?
[Laughs] I don’t even want to say the name. It was some young 14-year-old stuff.
So what made you get into the production side as opposed to just rapping?
I didn’t know anything about beats I just loved music and sounds. I still remember the sounds I used for my first beat. It was sounds that [drew me in]. So by the time I was 16 I started fully making beats on my own computer. My friend gave me a copy of Fruity Loops so I used that and I’m still using Fruity Loops now to this day.
It’s cool that you found your calling so young. Did anyone ever try to dissuade you of pursuing music?
Yeah, actually. I played baseball, football and basketball in high school but when we started practice for the following season I told the coach that I wanted to make beats and that I didn’t want to practice anymore. He looked at me like I was crazy. I didn’t care. I was all about music in high school and it paid off.
Tell me more about your high school days. Where are you from in California?
I’m from IE, which is Inland Empire. First half of my life, though, I was in Pasadena. When my mom moved me out of Pasadena though I was able to focus. In Pasadena most my homies were Bloods and Crips so I was thankful my moms moved me to IE. There wasn’t much going on so it allowed me to work on my music.
What’s your favorite beat that you’ve made?
It’s hard to say. I love music and I love how it reflects what mood I’m in so I can when I hear it, depending on my mood I’ll love different songs.
Are there any beats other producers have made that you love and hate because you didn’t think of it?
Yeah that one beat… The Mike Will Made It one for Future. It’s called “Itchin'” I hear that beat and I’m like “Man why didn’t I think of that?”
Why’d you call your song “Jay Z Interview?”
I just thought it was a cool title for a song. I watch Jay interviews and they’re always captivating and motivating so I just wanted to capture that feeling of inspiring someone.
See also: Jay-Z Bungles Nirvana
Can we expect a part three?
Who knows? I don’t even know, so…
So early this year you set up a label deal through Interscope. Care to talk about that situation?
I have a record deal through Interscope and its called Hits Since ’87. I signed myself, K. Roosevelt, and Audio Push.
How is having a label deal different than a publishing deal, which you also have?
Running a label is very different. First off, dealing with other humans is a struggle on its own. I have my own ideas, but I still have to give my artists what they want, yet still let them know they’re under my guidance. To get everyone on the same page too is hard. This past July we started the Come As You Are project and it’s out now ,but we went through it creating it. Changing melodies, keyboards, lyrics… we went through it, but that’s because we’re just trying to make the best shit possible.
Some people have been speculating that you had a less than amicable split with GOOD Music. True or false?
False. I did a production deal, a two-year production deal. I made some bread; made them some bread and we parted ways when the contract was up. We’re good though. I actually just talked to Ye recently so you never know, might be hearing some new collabs real soon.
Speaking of collabs how did you and A$AP Rocky end up working together?
Rocky reached out wanting to work. I was a fan of his so we just linked. First beat I played him was “Goldie.” And he went straight in the booth and freestyled it in front of me. It was amazing.
You’re slowly becoming a seasoned vet with your Grammy wins and high profile beat placements. What’s something that you’ve learned that helps you keep everything in perspective?
My biggest thing is to put every ounce of my genius into my music. Good music will fuel everything else. You’ve got to keep working, keep learning. Pharrell told me that when you’re going through periods when you’re hot then not hot you have to keep working on music. It will carry you through everything. I have no cosigns. We’re standing on our own two. I have no help at all and I’m super proud of that and that people are recognizing us. And it’s because we put our hearts into our music.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 13, 2013