Exclusive: Hit-Boy sheds light on HS87's creative process, bonding with peers while on tour and what the Inland Empire brings to L.A.'s music scene.
When it comes to critical acclaim, compilation projects usually come up short. The number of well received compilations can most likely be added up on one hand and, of the few, Hit-Boy was a key member of one in 2013’s All I’ve Ever Dreamed Of. While some of your favorite crews steer clear of attempting the feat (and others probably should have) once, Hit-Boy’s HS87 crew is coming back with We The Plug.
“It’s definitely having that real synergy, really working on records together, and not just one artist being over here, and we email some shit,” Hit-Boy responds when asked what makes a good compilation album “We really in the studio, bringing up old stories and we reflect, put it into the music, it’s a real bond with HS87. There’s no fakery, there’s no bullshit, it’s all about the art, it’s all about the music, its different I feel excited,” Speaking to the type of statement he believes We the Plug would make, Hit-Boy continued “I feel every project I put together is better than the last like it’s supposed to be, but I feel like this is that project. Like this is the shit that’s gonna help you understand my mind as a music maker in general. Just beyond the raps, beyond the beats. It’s a real musical album.”
Taking time out from wrapping up the We The Plug album earlier in the month, Hit-Boy talked with DX about his HS87 family, production, and the West coast Hip Hop scene
Hit-Boy Praises HS87’s Diversity & Audio Push’s Growth
HipHopDX: Going into this project, the buzz on Oktane and Price has blown up since Come As You Are. How does that affect the recording process?
Hit-Boy: When we started the project, everybody was posted here. We took all of our energy and all of our minds and put it together. Audio Push, they’re just evolving by the minute and shit, so it’s amazing to have those guys in my corner, and we’re looking out for each other. They’re some creative rappers, so they bring a whole different aspect to HS87. It’s just undeniable.
DX: Speaking of the other members of HS87, other movements, like G.O.O.D. Music have artists like Common, who were already established. Has adding an artist to the roster that has already been established ever come across your mind?
Hit-Boy: Actually, I’m rocking with Rich Boy. Me and Rich Boy go back to 2006 when we were both signed to Polow Da Don. Now that I got my situation, we’ve been making some incredible music that I feel like is enjoyable. We’re having a good time making the music we want to make, and making sure it’s enjoyable.
DX: Within the crew, you guys have multiple producers: yourself, K. Roosevelt and Ray Reel. How would you describe the different production styles? Do you use different equipment?
Hit-Boy: It’s me, it’s Haze, Ray Reel, K. Roosevelt, S. Dot and B. Carr. Most of us use Fruity Loops—all of us except K. Roosevelt and Haze Banga—they both use Logic. Pretty much everybody has their own flavor and their own style. Everybody can pretty much do any style of beat: that energetic shit, the ballad shit, the smoke shit. We all try to use elements from the music we’ve learned how to produce over the years. It be cool, sometimes I may have some crazy, hard-ass 808s shit, and then Haze will come add a part that sound like some break-beat, Hip Hop crazy shit. Adding different flavors just makes up the plug. It’s an unreal bond, and it’s almost like a cheat code, ‘cause everyone is moving on their own wave, even though we’re always around each other.
How Kid Cudi, Rich Boy & Young Dro Contributed To “We The Plug”
DX: Within the movement, BMac the Queen is the lone female. How did you guys originally link up, and what do you think she brings to the table as far as a female perspective?
Hit-Boy: BMac is a music lover, and I’m a music lover, so we just bond period. I met her on Myspace in 2006. We just been rocking. I told her, “The day I make it, I’m gonna have you here with me.” She’s still rocking. She’s an incredible songwriter as well. She don’t just write her own stuff, she writes songs for different people. That kind of already gives her a different edge. She has a more broad perspective versus a rapper who thinks about raps all day. She’s thinking of dope concepts, and she just adds a whole fresh-ass musical flavor to the plug.
DX: What collaborations are included on the project from people outside of the HS87 movement? Also, with crafting a compilation, what goes into picking collaborations from outside of your crew?
Hit-Boy: Really we just work with people who want to work with us. Shout out to the homie Clay from Grand Hustle. I know him because we went on that “America’s Most Wanted Tour” with Wayne. We hung with Clay a bunch backstage. He brought Young Dro through to the House of Hit in like January or February, so that record is on there; Young Dro is on the album. Rich Boy—like I said—Rich Boy added his incredible voice and energy to the project. We got Rich Boy, we got Dro and Kid Cudi on the project, which is amazing. Through all my experiences in the last six or seven months, I’ve been through a lot of changes in the game. I’m definitely moving toward fully believing in myself, taking action with this HS87 shit, making sure we’re a staple, so we got a record called “Scorn” on there. We just keeping it real about the game and about life. It just got good energy, so shout out to Kid Cudi. So with Dro, Cudi, Rich Boy, we got real niggas on there, not just niggas we paid. We got Lil Debbie; that’s my homegirl. I met her in passing, and we ended up vibing. She came through, smoked some shit, chilled and made some music.
DX: You explained how prior to recording “Grindin’ My Whole Life” your pops had just came home. How did that feel?
Hit-Boy: It’s a blessing. It’s something that I always dreamed about. I wanted to do this shit a long time ago, and for it to all align now, it’s all in God’s plan. It’s a blessing that every day I wake up, I thank God, straight up.
Why Hit-Boy Says The Inland Empire Adds To L.A.’s Musical Perspective
DX: You’ve been involved resurgence of the L.A. scene, whether it’s you working with Dom Kennedy, Casey Veggies, Kendrick or others. What do you feel the Inland Empire brings to the table specifically?
Hit-Boy: I definitely feel good about the music coming out the West. Everybody is focused up. We can definitely thank Kendrick for really showing us that it’s all about the art; it’s not about the gimmicks, and it’s not about the bullshit. Just focus on the music, and you’ll be good. Coming from the I.E., it’s just a whole different perspective. I got a whole different perspective from being out there...it’s a different culture. It’s some people that’s fresh out there. It’s some people that’s doing dope things, so I just want to let people know that it don’t matter where you come from. You can come straight from the I.E. and be the shit. Just be you.
DX: What motivates you, and is it different as an artist than as a producer considering the success you’ve already achieved as a producer?
Hit-Boy: What motivates me is really seeing…it’s crazy... every beat I do, every song I do, I feel like it’s my first song. I feel just as proud as when I made my first beat. I’m trying to keep that type of hunger and that type of passion. A lot of people be jaded, and they get frustrated by the game; we all do. I do myself a lot of times, almost every day, but it all comes back to the music. What motivates me is seeing my own progress and knowing that it can really be a reality...knowing that I can live and take care of my family off this music shit. Something that I just love and would do for free. It’s all dope, and it’s a blessing.
I see endless opportunities for us to progress. However things are meant to be, that’s how they’ll be if we keep working on being the best music makers we can possibly be. Audio Push, they’ve grown basically by the minute, so there’s no bounds on it. I feel like we could come out and really touch people, really change the world and bring some positive vibes back. Everything is so dark, but we’re bringing light music back, and telling real stories everybody can relate to. You never know what could happen.
DX: What would you say are your top five favorite beats that you’ve done?
Hit-Boy: Man…these type of questions are always the hardest. I’d say the “Told You So” beat featuring Overdoz and Audio Push from the Come As You Are album. That’s one of my favorite beats for real. That Justin Bieber and Drake “Right Here,” I like that. I like “Watch N Learn” by Rihanna. With Game, I did a song called “The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly.” And I love “Niggas in Paris.”