Step into the studio with Grammy-award winning producer behind some of the most iconic records of the last decade including “Sicko Mode” by Travis Scott, “Flawless” by Beyoncé and “Goldie” by A$AP Rocky.
Chauncey Alexander Hollis aka Hit-Boy is the not-so-secret weapon behind Nas’ current Top 5 album “Kings Disease.” The native Californian producer, writer and singer is no stranger to success. His resume includes “Sicko Mode” by Travis Scott, “Flawless” by Beyoncé, and “N—s in Paris” by Kanye and Jay-Z.
Talking to us from his plush studio, Hollis said if he had learned earlier what he knows today he’d have even more bangers.
“I feel producing is about sequencing and mixing. Just having headspace — enough for an artist to hear themselves on top of it,” he explained in his laid back style. “If you’re a producer trying to get placements, just make sure you have that space. I feel that in a lot of my career if I had focused more on the engineering side and EQing things, I would have had a lot more placements.”
More hits? That’s quite a statement from someone who produced Drake’s “Trophies,” GOOD Music’s “Clique,” and Nipsey Hussle’s “Racks in the Middle” (which won the Best Rap Performance Grammy in 2020).
“I make hits but they don’t ever feel forced,” he said. “They don’t feel like I was sitting in the studio trying to make a hit. It just sounds good and people enjoy it.”
Keep it simple, superstars
Hit-Boy likes to use Arcade in a variety of creative ways including making beats, something that he says doesn’t need to be a complicated process.
“I feel like every time I got ‘the biggest song on an album’ or something, it would be one of my most simple beats,” he said while pulling up the Chill Bossa kit in Chopped, one of 50 kits that are currently available.
Hit-Boy used the kit known for sensual melodic touches that interplay mellow bossa nova rhythms on a clear piano on Juice Wrld’s 2019 release “Death Race for Love.” He explained that he took a simple piano melody, slowed it down and laid it under the beat.
Maybe fans of Hit-Boy’s music should be grateful that Arcade wasn’t available a decade ago.
“I swear if I had this ten years ago, I wouldn’t be here right now,” he said, laughing, predicting he would be on an island somewhere enjoying his retirement.
What he learned from Kanye
As successful as he is, the multi-Grammy-winning producer said he takes minimal time off, and even then he’s making music, striving to always be prepared for the next session.
One of the things he learned early in his career was from another Grammy-winning rapper/producer, Kanye West, who wanted to do much more than just rap over Hit-Boy’s beats.
“He would give me acapellas and maybe he would give me a piano part or a sample from someone,” he said, noting it was confusing to him at first. “I didn’t know that was part of the collaboration.”
But he says a lot of artists use him for that now. “They’ll give me a shell and I’ll turn it into a next-level thing. And having something like Arcade, post-production is over with. You can start beats with it, but if you already have your own bass and you add Arcade, it’s really endless fun.”
Memory is cheap so save everything
Hit-Boy does have some advice for others who share in his fun: save everything. You never know if that piece that you set aside back in the day is just what you’re looking for today.
“I say never abandon any ideas even if you got a four-bar loop or a two-bar loop,” Hit-Boy advises. “Save it and come back to it. A lot of beats I was doing years ago, I’m still pulling up to this day, just re-implementing the new things I’ve learned.”
Hit-Boy says, “no idea is really ever dead unless you kill it.”