MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

Studies in Grandiosity, Courtesy of Hit-Boy

Southern California producer Hit-Boy is only five years into his career, but in that short time he has made himself into one of the most well regarded hit-makers in the hip-hop world. After being discovered on MySpace (remember that thing?) in 2007 by Polow da Don, Hit-Boy embarked on a meteoric rise that culminated with his signing to Kanye West’s [http://kanyewest.com] G.O.O.D. Music collective.

Hit-Boy (yes, the hyphen is necessary) plays an interesting role within this pop music brain trust. His beats are distinct because of their swaggering bombast, and hints of his style have popped up on tracks for artists as diverse as Pusha T and Jennifer Hudson. The ultimate iteration of Hit-Boy’s style is probably “N****s in Paris”, the colossal, swaggering centerpiece to Jay-Z and Kanye West’s 2011 collaboration album, Watch the Throne.

Below is a genealogy of the tracks Hit-Boy has produced and some of the elements they wound up contributing to one of the past year’s most indelible singles.

“Gone” – Jennifer Hudson
This track is a good example of Hit-Boy’s predilection for R&B, which, much in the style of his employer Kanye West, winds up coloring many of his beats. As usual, Hudson’s voice upstages everything in its immediate vicinity, but if you listen hard on the chorus you can hear a synthesized string line that plays like an attenuated version of Hit-Boy’s more bombastic hip-hop hooks.


“Why Did You Leave Me?” – Snoop Dogg
Hit-Boy has the curious distinction of being the co-producer of one of Snoop Dogg’s most introspective outings. Say what you will about Snoop’s attempts at sensitivity, but the beat for this track definitely has one of the sweetest guitar lines to pop up in the past several years. This tendency to base a beat around a single instrumental line is another of Hit-Boy’s preferred maneuvers, even if it’s here applied with a lighter touch than that which Hit-Boy typically employs.


“Drop the World” – Lil Wayne ft. Eminem
This track has the onerous distinction of being the best musical specimen from what was almost universally regarded as an artistic catastrophe. It’s not a surprise that the most popular track from Lil Wayne’s rock album, “Rebirth,” was the track that was closest in style to being straight-up hip-hop. “Drop the World” is a fine display of Hit-Boy’s ability to write beats that go stomping through their run times with earth-shattering footsteps.


Pusha T – “My God”
This single from Pusha T’s Fear of God II: Let us Pray marries Hit-Boy’s love of soul music flourishes with his penchant for massive production. Listen for the guitar line that anchors the beat, then becomes gradually buried as other instruments are piled into the mix.

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About the Author


Shane Danaher's affection for pop music has peppered his adult life with a variety of aesthetically rewarding and financially disastrous decisions. After moving to Portland, Oregon for college (because that's where he heard Modest Mouse was from) Shane has wound up participating in the music world in roles ranging from 'drummer' to 'promoter' to 'bathroom floor scrubber.' He has toured without money, written about almost every band ever to have come out of the Pacific Northwest, and one time traveled all the way to Los Angeles just to see a catch hip-hop show. He currently resides in Portland, where he writes about hip-hop, pop and rock music for a variety of publications. He still plays drums. He wants to meet Kanye West.

Posted in: Hip Hop Music


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