What can you say about this kid from Cincinnati Ohio? He has worked with everybody from G-Unit and Mobb Deep to independent staples Talib Kweli and Jean Grae. His sound is universal, for the masses and for the underground. It’s been 5 years since the critically acclaimed “Hi-Teknology” dropped on Rawkus records. Though Rawkus folded, Hi-Tek was one of the most sought after producers of the late 90′s early 2000′s. Babygrande picked up Hi-Tek in early 2006 and the buzz has been crazy ever since. “Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip” drops on Tuesday October 17th and its well worth the wait. Bolstering a guest list of the who’s who in hip-hop, Hi-Tek is set for another classic. I got a chance to chat with Hi-Tek about this album, his artist Dion who is signed to Aftermath, and his future. If you are producer and are looking for a blueprint to follow, look no further.
HHS: What’s up man, been crazy as of late, aye?
Hi-Tek: What up man, how you feeling?
I’m loving the album right now, people just don’t know.
You loving it or liking it?
I’m loving it, 2 albums that haven’t left my ride is Kidz in the Hall and “Hi-Teknology 2″.
That’s what’s up man, glad I could do that for you.
Let’s just jump in, the name of the album is “Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip”, explain the “The Chip”
I’ve been away for so long and I just wanted to upgrade. The Chip is basically the upgrade for the first album “Hi-Teknology”. It’s like having Mac 0S 9 and we have to upgrade you to OS 10.
The album is coming out on Babygrande on October 17th, after having major label success why did you decide to release the album on an independent label this time around?
Working on an independent is more fun, it’s more exciting to me there is more money involved and more attention. It’s just better for me, I hate dealing with majors.
You have worked with so many people in the industry, what is the major difference between making beats for others to buy and putting together your album?
There isn’t really a huge difference, but at the end of the day for a Hi-Teknology project I have a certain sound that I want to project. I’ll come up with a track and have a certain emcee in mind but it doesn’t necessarily fit for a Hi-Teknology project. It still has that Hi-Tek sound, but not for one of my projects. I think I have so many sounds that still describe Hi-Tek but not all beats fit the Hi-Teknology sound in my head. I’m in this for the fans and I want to keep going with what I started. If did an entire album for what I do for 50, I don’t think my fans would appreciate that.
I’m going to have to agree with you there. The album is chalked full of guests, but your mother and father make an appearance as well. Why did you decide to include them and what kind of influence has your family had on your music?
They have every influence that ever counts. From the reason that I’m here to the reason I have the musical talent that I have. They have two of the better, most sincere songs on the album. I don’t go in there thinking I’m going to put mom and pops on the album it came on a natural level. We have jam sessions with any of free time and family time I get. We just be in the studio and be working on music and they are so musically talented. We just came up with songs that just had to be on the album. Originally “Josephine” I submitted to Ghostface for “Fishscale”. It didn’t really fit “Fishscale” but I knew it was Ghostface all the way and when he heard it he agreed. At the time he felt the record, but it didn’t fit “Fishscale”. But, with mom and pops we just make music and it just happen to come out real dope. Its crazy when I get in the studio with them it’s such a natural vibe. They don’t know anything about the industry or anything about getting paid, they just do music. I think that is where the most sincere music comes from, that’s how you got a Reflection Eternal album. That’s why most people’s first album is their classic album. They are more into doing it for the love, they don’t even understand how much attention they are about to get. It’s not real until it’s real.
“Where it all Started” is the single, why did you choose to make that single being from Cincinnati and not from New York?
I need a street record for the album. I wish I would have had a nice anthem for Cincinnati but at the time I just didn’t have one. I feel that record is a really strong record and I’ve spent my entire career repping Cincinnati. I felt like it was time to pay homage to the other side of me, New York put me on my feet. I just felt like I needed to give them an homage song and pay my respects, a lot of people don’t do that.
One of the songs that really stick out to me is “Music For Life” and features the late J-Dilla (R.I.P.) among others. For those who haven’t heard the record, explain Dilla’s involvement and how you guys met.
J Dilla is the king of the MPC if you ask me. He really makes that MPC talk. I think I come right up under J Dilla. A lot of people compare us, from both being Midwest dudes and we are alike in so many ways. I look up to J Dilla. To this day, Dilla has infinite beats. Dilla and I were both working for albums on MCA and we had a mutual respect for each other. I had this song “Music for Life”, and I wanted to hear from everybody how music has influenced their lives and what it would be like without music. I had a lot of people do drops and J Dilla was one of the first people I reached out to. That’s where that drop at the beginning of the song comes from and who better to follow J Dilla than Nas to explain how deep this music thing is.
Tell us about Dion
I did a talent search in 2003 called “Midwest Talent Search”. I just wanted to do something for the Cincinnati and the Midwest at the same time and find some talent. A good friend of mine brought Dion’s CD to me before the show and Dion entered the contest. So before the show I had heard his tone and he had ended up winning the show. As a prize for winning the show you got a deal with Hi-Tek Productions. I have just groomed him from 2003 and he has ended up being a real talented person. Some people are real talented and sometimes you need a person like Me or like Dre, somebody that can help you project your talent. Dion just happened to be the truth. There are a lot of people that you can make sound good, but are they learning and are they actually an artist within themselves. Do I have to hold their hand throughout this whole game, Dion held his own. He held his own from the time he walked in the studio and that’s how we ended up getting the deal with Aftermath. Dre hears the same thing I think, Dion’s not all the way there but he is definitely hitting people over the head right now.
So what about the Dion album, you have a title or anything yet?
The album doesn’t have a title yet; we are only about half way through the album.
What are you thoughts on Rawkus coming back to the industry? With that changing landscape of hip-hop, do you think that they can do it again?
I don’t even know. I don’t even want to comment on Rawkus. Straight up.
You are said to be working on “Detox” with Dr Dre, everybody is real tight lipped, and can you say anything about the project?
Dre is the only one that has “Detox” in his head, same way as I’m the only person that has Hi-Teknology in my head. It’s hard to really say, I’m just playing my position on that project. Dre has treated me with so much love and respect that I treat him the same. With my music, if I create something is over the top and has that sound. I give it to Dre. You can only imagine what “Detox” is going to sound like.
We all just hope it still coming.
Honestly man, I can’t really push any buttons on that one because I don’t know.
You knew I had to ask, when is the next Reflection Eternal album going to drop?
We are slowly putting together that project; we are trying to square away the business so Kweli and I can get back in the studio the right way. It needs to be a natural feel opposed to just making songs for the sake of making songs, we want to make it for ourselves.
Everybody talks about Reflection Eternal, but a lot of people don’t know you started out with the Cincinnati crew named Mood. “Doom” was one of my favorite albums in ’97, how about that reunion?
I don’t know. I’m not really in touch with those guys they are scattered all over the planet right now. I’m kind of carrying the torch for Mood right now, big shout out to Mood they are all my peoples and I try to carry the torch and keep it going for them.
So, what’s next for Hi-Tek?
Right now I’m really trying to complete the Dion record. I’m out here promoting my album and I really want to encourage people to buy the album. It’s about sales, but it’s also about getting the musical point across. I encourage people to go get the real album; I don’t mind people downloading because I know people have been fiending for it but please go get the real album. I just want to get back in the studio and work on beats and finishing Dion’s project done. I just wanted to get the “Hi-Teknology” off my chest. Go get the album October 17th.
Last question, you have worked with practically everybody from mainstream to underground. Is there anybody that you would like to work with that you have not yet gotten the chance?
I want to work with Michael Jackson. I just want to make him a song and tell him “this is going to make you hot right now”
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