Hit-Boy makes hits. Born Chauncey Hollis, the 26-year-old artist has produced songs for Mary J. Blige, Lil Wayne, A$AP Rocky, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Justin Bieber, and Nicki Minaj. He's also responsible for the inescapable song 'N***** In Paris,' one of the biggest singles from Kanye West and Jay-Z's 'Watch the Throne' album.
Hit-Boy signed to Kanye's label, G.O.O.D. Music last year. He produced a few songs on the label's 'Cruel Summer' compilation, including 'Clique,' with Kanye, Jay and Big Sean. After a solid, but short tenure with the label, last week he officially announced his departure from G.O.O.D. Music.
In January, Hit-Boy signed a solo deal with Interscope Records; his Hits Since 87 label also became an Interscope imprint. Soon after, the Hits Since 87 compilation, 'All I've Ever Dreamed Of,' dropped. Last week, his contract with G.O.O.D. expired, allowing him to focus on his own music and label.
And, today, we are premiering Hit-Boy's new video for 'New Chains,' a remix of Kanye's song 'New Slaves,' which you can watch here.
We caught up with Hit-Boy on the phone last Friday while he was working in Toronto with "the city's Obama." We talked about his departure from G.O.O.D., working with Jay-Z on his new album 'Magna Carta Holy Grail,' the 'New Chains' video, and the future of Hits Since 87.
What's happening in Toronto?
I'm working on some music with the city's Obama right now. The person who owns this city. The person who you'd associated Toronto with.
I think I know who you're talking about. You've worked with Drake before, right?
Yeah, we worked on Justin Bieber's album together. I did a track on that album, and Drake was featured on it. But this is our first time being in the studio together, working on his album. But we've known each other since like '06. It's going incredibly. We're just coming up with ideas. Just vibing.
Yesterday was Independence Day. Earlier this week, you announced your independence from G.O.O.D. Music, so the holiday must've been particularly meaningful for you this year.
It's awesome, man. I've learned a lot of things about the game. I'm ready to apply them to my situation, and to my artists, and to my homies. I want to put them up on things now.
I'm a young guy, really just learning about life, and spending my money. That's what Kanye's talking about in his version, but I'm talking about the youthful part of that.
What was one of the most valuable things you learned during the last stage of your career?
Most definitely just putting it back into the music, and pushing the boundaries. That's where it starts. If the music is quality, and you put it all into that, everything else just falls into place.
Now that you're independent, and able to focus on your own music and your label, Hits Since 87, what do you think you'll be able to do now that you couldn't do before?
It's not really necessary like that. Now I can put all of my time ― now I can do exactly what I want to do. I can keep my best beats for myself, or give my best beats to my artists. The payoff will be much bigger this time.
And that normally means there's more pressure, too.
Yeah, but the pressure's good. I'm excited. I have some amazing things lined up. I'm on the new Jay-Z record that came out yesterday, so it's all good.
Right, you produced 'Somewhere In America.' Can you tell me about that song?
It came together last minute. It was the one of the last songs he put on the album. It just happened to land in his hands. I went up to New York and was in the studio with him. He played me the whole album, which is always an event. I've already done two number one rap records with Jay ― 'N***** In Paris' and 'Clique' ― so now, to be a part of his solo album, is an amazing thing.
So your first release since announcing your independence from G.O.O.D. is a remix, and video, of Kanye's 'New Slaves.' Why did you choose to remix this song?
I was a big fan of the emotion in that song, but I wanted to put a more youthful perspective on it. I don't know how people are going to take it, but I wanted to put my perspective on it. I'm a young guy, really just learning about life, and spending my money. That's what Kanye's talking about in his version, but I'm talking about the youthful part of that. I just wanted to express my thoughts.
Now I can put all of my time ― now I can do exactly what I want to do. I can keep my best beats for myself, or give my best beats to my artists.
Given the recent news of you being free from your G.O.O.D. Music contract, people may interpret some of the lyrics as being directed toward Kanye.
I can see that, but that has nothing to do with any of that. It's just the energy of it. I wanted to bring out the emotions I was feeling.
In the first verse you say, “I'll just keep these beats to myself.” And you rap about other people holding you back.
Okay. So what can we expect from Hits Since 87 over the next few days, weeks, months?
We're gonna be on the America's Most Wanted Tour with Lil Wayne. That's gonna be the most important thing. That starts next week. It'll be me and Audio Push. And my other artist K. Roosevelt is gonna come out in a few cities. I'm really excited, because this is my first tour.
There will be some new music, too. We're just working. With this tour, I'm just trying to get people into what I'm doing, and into my movement. It's an amazing thing.