The last time Hit-Boy didn’t have any hits, MySpace was popping. Since breaking into the industry in 2007, he’s built a production empire on the backs of Grammy-winning hits like Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Ni**gas in Paris” and Nipsey Hussle’s “Racks in the Middle,” A-list anthems like Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle” and G.O.O.D. Music’s “Clique,” and bangers like Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé’s “Feeling Myself” and Bey’s “***Flawless.” And Hit’s only getting better.
Born Chauncey Hollis Jr., the 34-year-old Fontana, Calif. native is a student of the game. He was a rapper before becoming a producer and founding member of the beatmaking collective Surf Club, comprised of Chase N. Cashe, B. Carr and Chili Chil, among others. Around the mid-2000s, Hit was discovered by Polow Da Don then signed with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music in 2011, before forming his own Hits Since ’87 imprint via Interscope Records one year later. Surf Club is officially the imprint he uses now.
Hit’s production credits are immense and include crafting Lil Wayne and Eminem’s “Drop the World,” whipping up some of the anthemic “Trophies” for Drake and adding to Travis Scott’s diamond smash “Sicko Mode.” Hit has also shown an ability to be a double threat with his own solo projects, plus releases as part of the rap duo Half-A-Mil with Dom Kennedy.
After going through a lull of admittedly not putting his full focus on producing, Hit’s recently become Nas’ right-hand record-maker, with the two working exclusively together on Nas’ last three albums: the Grammy-winning 2020 LP King’s Disease, its 2021 follow-up, King’s Disease II, and Magic from the same year. King’s Disease III is in the works. In the midst, Hit’s been producing entire projects for artists such as Benny The Butcher’s 2020 release, Burden of Proof, and Big Sean and Hit’s collabo EP, What You Expect, plus cranked out heat for other artists. The Game and Kanye’s “Eazy” is one of his latest credits.
Along with receiving a consensus of Producer of the Year praise from multiple media outlets and winning Producer of the Year for the XXL Awards 2022, Hit’s up for two more Grammy Awards this year as Producer of the Year and Best Rap Album for King’s Disease II.
XXL spoke with Hit-Boy in February via Zoom about his award-winning run, working exclusively with Nas, reconciling with Kanye and what’s up Hit’s sleeve for 2022.
XXL: A lot of people called you the Producer of the Year for 2021. How does it feel to be getting recognized as the best producer doing it?
Hit-Boy: That’s something I been working toward for a long time. You can’t ever really calculate it, but I just been calculating it mentally, just trying to push myself to elevate. I know I did some great things, but if I keep pushing it forward, it ain’t no telling what can happen. I just got my first Producer of the Year [Grammy] nomination this year and I didn’t even have no super top 10 hits. I just was consistent and everything I was doing was quality.