Its amazing that Hi-Tek could float under the radar for the past five years and yet still have so many production credits to his name. But since hes joined in the ranks of Dr. Dres Aftermath Entertainment and the labels growing stable of artists and producers, Tek has seen his name drop in a few places hip-hop heads might not have expected, lending his production talents to the likes of 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, G-Unit, Busta Rhymes and The Game.
Now trying to build his own production company, push along the career of singer Dion, also signed to Aftermath, and preparing to release his highly anticipated sophomore album, Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip, the Cincinnati producer spoke with AllHipHop.com about his upcoming about, why it took so long to drop and how his production has evolved since his days of Reflection Eternal and Black Star.
AllHopHop.com: Youve got the new album out, what are your expectations with the release?
Hi-Tek: I think people are just happy to hear something from me. Whether the sales are high or low, I think people are just going to happy to hear something musically from me. Im just trying to give back to the fans and the people with this album. I know I dont have a strong single or buzz this album. And its not your typical release. Im just trying to get the music across to the people.
AllHipHop.com: What took you so long to come out with a follow-up?
Hi-Tek: After the Rawkus release, I got signed with MCA to do Hi-Teknology 2. During the recording of that, I got an artist singed to Def Jam, Jonell, and I wanted to get that project done first, before I finished mine. But it took too long with both the R&B project and Hip-Hop project at the same time. Both Def Jam and MCA eventually crashed on me, and I had two years of music just sitting. By the time I got to Geffen, they didnt really see the vision of doing Hi-Teknology 2. I had to go back and do a lot of production. And now I got the independent release with Babygrande.
AllHipHop.com: How did you choose the artists you wanted to work with for this album?
Hi-Tek: First, it started with the beat and then me thinking who sounded best for that track. This album was really about putting together collaborations and seeing who is the best to collaborate with. Me being a fan of a lot of these people, I wanted to bring out the best in the track and basically display it that way.
AllHipHop.com: As a producer, why did you decide to feature artists on the album as opposed to doing something like an instrumental album?
Hi-Tek: My thing is putting out songs. I dont really like instrumentals and feeling like Im giving out my music. Im really not into that. Thats not the type of producer I am. I am definitely trying to do production [from an artists] perspective, meaning my beats talk just as much as someone on the microphone. Its like the beats are speaking too. They talk. And you need someone lyrically to bring out the track at the same time.
AllHipHop.com: How did the recording process go with the featured artists, did you sit down with them or was there an exchange of music and you got a file back with the vocals?
Hi-Tek: It was a little bit off both.
AllHipHop.com: What was it like in the sessions with the artists?
Hi-Tek: Once I envisioned that over the track and reached out, like 80 percent of everyone that I reached out to and spoke with came through and they felt they should be on the track too.
AllHipHop.com: With the sending tracks back and forth, do you feel there is an element lost in the recording process by doing this?
Hi-Tek: I think sometimes there is an element lost. In my situation, I was totally blessed. I might have disagreed with one thing on the album, but it was just one out of everything youre hearing. And of everything else I was totally impressed with.
AllHipHop.com: Youve got an eclectic mix of music on the album with music structure and tempo, how did you choose which tracks were going to be on the album?
Hi-Tek: Its hard to really say. A Hi-Tek project has a different feel then other songs, because I have vision in my head before I even get started. Maybe one or two of those songs within that vision due to politics; I mean, I am into selling records and reaching the world. But I put everything together in my head and have an overall vision. I like to give back to the people that way.
AllHipHop.com: How did you decide where to place everything on the album, is there a theme in terms of how the album is put together?
Hi-Tek: One thing I really wanted to get across was my versatility. Hi-Tek is a real producer and I wanted to display both an East and West [sound]. I wanted to show these new cats that you dont have to pigeonhole your sound; you can come from the heart and be true to your production.
AllHipHop.com: Youve got guys such as Q-Tap, Nas, Busta Rhymes, Common and Jadakiss on the album. What does it say to you that youre getting major players on the album?
Hi-Tek: It says Hi-Tek made it to the top. I come from the underground so for me to be able to get them, and me being a fan of all them, it lets me know that there are a lot of people that cant get that done. Im not a DJ where its going to benefit them and I got to get on this mixtape. Its about respect. I know those artists wouldnt get down if it werent about respect.
AllHipHop.com: Youve also got newer artists like Papoose and Ayak also on the album. How do you go about incorporating the newer artists in with an album packed with rhyme veterans?
Hi-Tek: Thats the business side of thinking. I am always looking for new artists. At the same time, if I have an artist signed, what better way to give them exposure? Aside from the political part, its really showing part of how theyre going to be on a bigger level. If I got an artist like Ayak, I need to get the most and the best exposure possible, and what better way to expose them to big name artists then to put them next to big name artists.
AllHipHop.com: Everyone wants to know what was it like recording with Talib Kweli again?
Hi-Tek: It was like we never left the studio. Its always good.
AllHipHop.com: Do you ever feel like you have to shake the underground category that can come up when mentioning your name?
Hi-Tek: I never considered myself an underground producer. Youre in the game to grow. Youre only underground when youre not exposed. I dont plan on being underground for the rest of my career. In my heart I was always a big dog. And now Im producing with the big dogs.
AllHipHop.com: How is this album different from your debut?
Hi-Tek: Its the same blueprint just with bigger artists.
AllHipHop.com: How do you feel youve grown as an artist?
Hi-Tek: I have definitely matured with my music. Ive gotten more hands-on and more musical. There is less sampling and more playing; really showing that musician side of me. I think I can create music now and layer it up as opposed to using a sample.
AllHipHop.com: In between albums, youve had a number of production credits to your name, how has producing for other artists influenced how you approach music for this album?
Hi-Tek: Once I hooked up with Dr. Dre, the expectations of producing for Aftermath and Interscope were bigger. He gave me the challenge of stepping up. It taught me to reach out to more musicians and make a bigger production. From then on, it just carried throughout my career. But being around Dre has definitely upped my game.
AllHipHop.com: How did a record coming out on Babygrande come about?
Hi-Tek: It was cool. We didnt have a big budget and most of the album is through relationships. I mean, the budget was nothing. But at the same time its great for me, because Im someone who doesnt plan to go back to a major without 100 percent creative control of my music. And its great to have Babygrande, who is a fan of you, and lets you do what you want to do. As opposed to having a major on your back and telling you how to do it, that kind of energy is so draining. I was very, very happy to have someone let me do what I do. Babygrande reminds me of Rawkus days when it wasnt about an A&R. Thats how I got to be who I am. Thats how people know how Hi-Tek is, and how I am able to do me on my own.
AllHipHop.com: With the release of a second album, are there going to be more credits to your name after the album drops, or are you going to keep the level of business the way it is right now?
Hi-Tek: Really, Im definitely going to produce more and be on a production team. Im building a whole production company and building my record label. I wanted to get this album out to get people paying attention to me. Its about giving back to the people and letting them know what theyve been missing. I think they miss that sound. I definitely feel incomplete without putting out a record.
AllHipHop.com: Whats next for Hi-Tek after the album drops?
Hi-Tek: I got this artist, Dion, who signed to Aftermath. And Im trying to be more on the production side of things. Im trying to be more like the next Dr. Dre or Puffy. The album is going to be released October 17. If you go get the album from Best Buy, you can get three bonus songs and a DVD that comes with it featuring me creating a beat. For all you up and coming cats who want to see Hi-Tek make a beat. Its just a way of me giving back to the people.