This is the spot where you’ll see upcoming producers and Industry veterans in the game. A lot of people don’t know what goes into production. This will be the section where we feature the hottest producers in hip hop. Each month we’ll bring to you a new producer along with their background.
THIS MONTH’S FEATURE IS: Hi-Tek
“Dre gives me the freedom to just do what I do,” Hi-Tek explains. “Whatever fits the Aftermath sound, we place it on a project. If the sound fits any artist that Dre’s signed, then that’s where the track goes. He gave me a captain’s seat. He allows me to do the Hi-Tek sound, and that fits a chamber of what Dre’s doing at Aftermath.”
In the late 1990s, he helped define the sound of New York’s independent rap scene through his work with Mos Def, Talib Kweli and others. In the last few years, he’s become one of Dr. Dre’s most prized producers thanks to his hard-hitting work with 50 Cent, The Game and Lloyd Banks.
Hi-Tek cemented his stature as one of today’s most innovative and critically acclaimed producers with 2006’s Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip,. Yet only a year later, Tek has committed to turning heads again. This time towards some of today’s most gifted up and comers with Hi-Teknology 3. In addition to featuring some of today’s burgeoning acts, including Estelle, Riz, Push Montana, Rem Dog & more, Tek gets a little help from Hip-Hop staples such as Talib Kweli, Young Buck, Ghostface, Raekwon, Little Brother, Kurupt, Outlawz, and M-1 (of Dead Prez). This album promises to usher in the next wave of talent, further solidifying Hi-Tek’s reputation as one of the most respected and prolific producers/artists in the game.
Growing up in Cincinnati, Hi-Tek was eager to show the world his own talents. A die-hard hip-hop fan and b-boy, he fell in love with the seminal hip-hop movie Beat Street and made his first trip to New York in the mid 1980s, when KRS-One’s Boogie Down Productions and Eric B. & Rakim were emerging as superstars.
Following in his parents’ footsteps, he started making his own music. Hi-Tek hoped to get an opportunity to have his music heard. “In my mind, I always thought, ‘As soon as somebody hears this, they’re going to feel it,’” he recalls. “I wanted people to hear it, what I was doing since I was 8, 9 years old.”
Hi-Tek’s first big break came with fellow Cincinnatians Mood, who were signed to TVT Records. He produced several songs on their Doom album, which led to his landmark work on Mos Def and Talib Kweli’s Black Star album. His stellar work on “Definition,” “Redefinition” and “Respiration” lead to Hi-Tek’s teaming with Talib Kweli on the Reflection Eternal album; an album which Hi-Tek produced entirely.
From there, Hi-Tek catapulted to one of rap’s most in-demand producers, working with Common, Kool G. Rap, Big L, Beanie Sigel, Dead Prez, Cocoa Brovas, Ras Kass and others. Impressed with his versatile sounds, Snoop Dogg enlisted Hi-Tek to work on a number of his projects, including Tha Eastsidaz and his solo material.
Hi-Tek credits his wide appeal to his diverse sounds and musical moods. “Like I said on ‘The Blast’ verse, I really do think I’m a chameleon,” he says. “I think I’ve gotten longevity in the game because I understand all aspects of people. I’m from the Midwest and I grew up listening to a lot of music and respecting it. I was inside the music. I took the best from each region and made it my sound, and that’s how I think I’m able to do whatever I want to do and still feel like I’m putting my heart and soul into it.”
Now a staff producer and talent scout for Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment, Hi-Tek has been one of Dre’s most consistent beat makers. And, in a nod of his belief in Hi-Tek’s work, Dre has also signed Hi-Tek’s R&B artist Dion to Aftermath. “Dre gives me the freedom to just do what I do,” Hi-Tek explains. “Whatever fits the Aftermath sound, we place it on a project. If the sound fits any artist that Dre’s signed, then that’s where the track goes. He gave me a captain’s seat. He allows me to do the Hi-Tek sound, and that fits a chamber of what Dre’s doing at Aftermath.”
Now aligning forces with Sha Money XL and his Money Management Group and D Prosper Music, Hi-Tek has found himself in good company. As a producer on the MMG roster he is in a position that will only encourage him to achieve even more than he already has. So with an industry bursting at the seams with talent, Hi-Tek has constantly maintained his position as a front runner in a race he has been running for the last ten years. The only thing is, he isn’t tiring. In fact he might have just been warming up.