family problems arise, even the best-laid plans get put on hold. Cincinnati
production kingpin Hi-Tek took a little time away from the game recently
when his daughter took ill, but thanks to a big paper hustle and some
focused foresight, not many would have recognized his momentary absence.
the days of his youth, he was advanced, a young chameleon adapting to any circumstance.
This is something he proclaimed proudly back in 2000 when The Blast
hit the airwaves and Reflection Eternal was a phenomenon from
coast to coast. If you ask Hi-Tek today, not a whole lot has changed
from the ethos he laid out in those first 16 bars. Hard work, determination
to be the best, and an ever expanding versatility are what keep him
one step ahead of the competition.
ready to get back in the Aftermath studios to work on the ever elusive Detox album as
well as drop the third installment of his Hi-Teknology album series,
Hi-Tek had a few things on his mind when he recently spoke to AllHipHop.com.
AllHipHop.com: Youve got
the new project coming. Did you feel pressure from fans to close the
gap between albums after the time between Hi-Teknology 1 and
2? Hi-Tek: Yeah, somewhat. Theres
definitely a lot of reasons for me wanting to drop so quick. I was under
a lot of pressure with the label, and I definitely felt like I need
to drop more consistent and to keep in moving and give back to the fans,
because I think when you wait so long, youve got that growth period
and people might not understand your growth in music. So I definitely
want to keep it more consistent.
AllHipHop.com: You said before
that despite selling over 250,000 copies of Hi-Teknology, you
werent that happy with the way Rawkus promoted or marketed the album.
How did you feel about the way Babygrande handled Hi-Teknology 2:
Hi-Tek: It was about the same
deal with Rawkus, youre independent so youll only do so much.
I really feel like I make major records for independent labels. I’m making
these major records, and theyre not doing what they could do with
them, but thats the give and take of dealing with an indie. At the
same time, my purpose is just to put out music.
AllHipHop.com: So are you feeling
good about your album situation with the label?
Hi-Tek: Its OK. Its 50/50,
its a Catch 22 you know? Cause one minute Im dont really feel
like theyre doing what they could, but at the same time nobody else
was interested in doing a deal.
AllHipHop.com: With the new
one, is the title still Hi-Teknology 3: Underground?
Hi-Tek: (Laughs) Naw man, thats
whats crazy. That was like a label mistake, that was something they
came up with. They basically came up with their own artwork, their own
title of the album. So I scrapped the title, its not called “Underground,”
thats wack. You know Tek dont come wack (Laughs). Thats something
they rushed into, we spoke briefly about the ideas and concept. And
the idea of the album was supposed to be that in order not to go into
clearance problems, we were just going to go back to the original blueprints
and grab more up-and-coming artists. Which actually I really wanted
to do, because that made me more excited about doing the project. But
other than that, I had to shoot down the Underground title because that
wasnt my idea.
AllHipHop.com: You said that
with Hi-Teknology 2 you were giving artists a chance to breathe
and bring something different than they would with their major label.
Whats going to be the feeling with this one?
Hi-Tek: Its always a combination
or a collaboration that you wouldnt normally hear with Hi-Tek.
The concept is always being able to have an artist on a different type
of track, or even give me a chance to spit different. I always bring
a versatility, and I like playing with the tracks and having fun with
it, and really giving back to the people. Its a competition thing
with my peers and other producers. Showing versatility, and seeing if
they can get down.
AllHipHop.com: What are the
expectations that you have set for yourself with the release, being
its an ever-shifting and declining music market right now?
Hi-Tek: One thing I can say
is I think I have a fanbase, my main concern is that I make quality
beats. I feel like Ive done everything I had to do, but its up
to the label to really sell this record and do what they got to do.
I definitely gave them some hit records and some groundbreaking music,
but Im not really concerned about sales like that. I know Im going
to sell records, Ive got a set fanbase and people know word of mouth
is the best publicity.
AllHipHop.com: Are you still
under a production deal with Aftermath?
Hi-Tek: Oh yeah.
AllHipHop.com: Hows that
deal working for you?
Hi-Tek: Its going great
man. But you know, my daughter got sick so I had some family issues,
and Ive kinda been laying low. Luckily I had the album all ready.
Im supposed to be out there working with Dre right now, but I had
to lay low due to my daughter. Ive been fiending to get back into
the studios and really work hard, so I can make some music for the
AllHipHop.com: Is everything
OK with your daughter right now?
Hi-Tek: Yeah man, everythings
AllHipHop.com: Thats good
to hear. Well if theres one thing nobody can get enough of its
updates on Detox. What can you reveal about the project at this
Hi-Tek: Its no information
man (Laughs) Youre not gonna get it out of me! No, Im just playing.
On the real side, I just try to constantly deliver music that Dre is
going to like, but only he really has a vision in his head of what he
wants Detox to sound like. But at the end of the day I just know
he wants some hot, hard beats. Some ground breaking music. He definitely
always tries to take it to the next level.
AllHipHop.com: I know hes
bought tracks from other producers that were supposed to be on the album,
but has the project been given a makeover from what it was originally?
Hi-Tek: Its hard to really
say, its just a process of elimination, thats what producers really
do. Hes very determined to put the best product together, and just
have a flawless album, no matter how long it takes. At the end of the
day hes a perfectionist, and if I had the turn to do that Id do
the same thing. I would never let no one dictate when I was supposed
to drop an album, because you cant rush creativity. But you also
dont want to upset the fans, so for the fans that are waiting on
the Detox album: its greater later.
AllHipHop.com: As a talent
scout for Aftermath, you must get a ton of music put in your hand. Do
you spend a lot of time listening to submitted work?
Hi-Tek: I dont necessarily
spend a lot of time listening, but when I do get a chance and I know
how I got it, and how somebody gave it to me, I might listen to it.
I mean, I listen to a lot of stuff thats given to me, but I cant
spend a lot of time listening to each and every person.
AllHipHop.com: Maybe you could
elaborate. Whats the most professional or best way somebody can get
you to listen to their beats?
Hi-Tek: Its the approach.
A lot of people approach you, and they claim This conversation is
going to be short. Next thing you know, you sitting there and they
keep explaining the same thing over and over. How hot the music is,
and its this and its that, trying to gas me up. It really dont
take that for me, the music got to speak for itself. Somebody that talks
about it is usually not that hot.
AllHipHop.com: Youve said
before that there were scheduling problems for you and Talib Kweli to get
back in the studio to revisit Reflection Eternal. Now that both
of your solo projects have dropped, have you guys agreed to get in the
Hi-Tek: Yeah, were looking
forward to getting in the studio. Hopefully everything will work out
with the label on the business side, and we get the budget up to work
on the album. But last time I spoke to him, we were both focused and
ready to get into this record.
AllHipHop.com: Last time out
your single Where It Started At (NY) was really paying homage
to the birthplace of Hip-Hop. I wondered if it was it ironic for you
doing that song, being that you arent from New York?
Hi-Tek: Yeah that song meant
a lot to me. I like to show my appreciation. A lot of people didnt
understand what I was doing it, but sometimes you gotta just tell people
how much you appreciated them and let them know. At the at the time,
I think a lot of people was trying to s**t on New York and just really
take they props, and almost forget about where Hip Hop started. So I
wanted to step in and kind of help fight the battle, to show my appreciation
and give them my support and let them know they had my support. Let
them know how much I love New York, and to do a classic record with
an all-star lineup to give it that New York feel. I like to brag on
my versatility, how I can really go in deep with that New York sound,
go in deep with that Cali sound, or the South sound. I just like to
play with the beats. Overall, the song was a dedication to New York,
because New York always supported me coming-up in the game, and they
really embraced me. To go to New York was always exciting, and from
day one there was always support for my music.
AllHipHop.com: You also got
to work with your father Willie Cottrell for your second album. What
was that like?
Hi-Tek: It was like a dream
come true for me, and a breath of fresh air. It was something I always
wanted to do being that my father was an artist once. They had they
thing going on back in the day, and they didnt really make it, it
was hard for them. So for me to get in the music scene and show him
how the music was, because I dont think he really believed in the
beginning. It took me proving to him that it was really working, and
I was really a true talent. Instead of me really saying Oh Pops,
you didnt support me in the beginning with the music, I wanted
to show him that I still appreciated him. So I couldnt wait to get
into the studio with him and show him my production skills, and make
him sound like a million dollars. The song we did was like 30 years
old, he wrote that before I was born. For me to be able to bring that
out, and put Ghostface on the record with him, it was just a smash.
Not a lot of people can really do that, so it just definitely meant
a lot to me being able to work with Pops in a real way. AllHipHop.com: Was he tripping
off of Ghostface being on there, or did he even know who he was?
Hi-Tek: (Laughs) I started
getting him more hip, and now he knows all about all the rappers and
everything thats going on in the industry. But I definitely inspired
him, he wasnt really a big fan of Hip-Hop like that. But I think
I made him a fan, he definitely likes Ghostface. It was dope though,
matter of fact (Laughs). When Ghost was rapping about Josephine,
he was like Damn man, I didnt know Josephine died of AIDS. I didnt
want her to die from AIDS. (Laughs) So that was just a funny thing,
because that song meant a lot to him. I even knew that going into it,
so I was real careful about who was going on the record. He really cared