By Rob Markman
Without the perfect beat, even rap’s most gifted storytellers can fall by the wayside, but Grammy-nominated board beast Hit-Boy doesn’t have that problem. Like his G.O.O.D. Music mentor Kanye West, Hit-Boy earned his stripes as a producer before revealing to the world his passion for rap. A passion that resulted in his debut mixtape HITstory, which the California native released today as a free Internet download on his House of Hit Website.
The comparisons to Yeezy are inevitable, but on the mixtape opening title track Hit begins to paint pictures of his own life with eye-popping brush strokes. “I knew what I wanted before I had it, but I always had it I was an addict/ And this room is feelin’ just like an attic, making 10 beats a day and going at it,” he spits over an eerie beat build marked by sharp violin stabs and calming child-like wails.
On “HITstory” the “N—as in Paris” producer weaves a narrative of disappointment and heartbreak dealing with a pregnant girlfriend, a crumbling crew and his diminishing rap dreams. Then suddenly things changed. “God damn I was just home, now I’m #3 on The Throne/ I had so many emotions, that I had to make it into a song,” he spits.
In June Hit-Boy released his introductory rap single (and video) “Jay-Z Interview,” a wordy proclamation of his versatility in the studio. “I play my own drums and basslines, you know homey,” he brags.
He also holds his own on the mic. On “Option” Hit spits alongside his G.O.O.D. Music label mate Big Sean employing an impressive double-time flow, then on “Old School Caddy” he recruits Kid Cudi to ride on the funky car ode. “Busta A– N—as” is much more menacing with its thumping bass drop and murderous bars from Chip Tha Ripper and Bun B. Hit gets conceptual on “East vs. West” where he imagines the last days of both the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur and takes it to the strip club on “Fan.”
As good as Hit-Boy’s first attempt is HITstory is only the opening chapter for an MC who has the potential to be a celebrated MC. Before he ends the tape with the introspective “Running in Place” Hit leaves listeners with a bit of advice in the form of a lyric: “If you gotta dream, dream big/ And if you gonna live, live right, ’cause we never get the chance to do it twice.”
And the story continues.
What do you think of Hit-Boy’s debut mixtape HITstory?