Cincinnati producer, Hi-Tek, is proof that good things happen to talented people. Being slighted on one of his first musical projects still landed him in the right place at the right time. The right place to meet Talib Kweli and later spawn the duo Reflection Eternal, which greatly contributed to the branding of Rawkus Records. Besides contributing compositions to projects by Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Snoop Dogg and other notable artist’s, Hi-Tek released his first solo album Hi-Teknology in 2001, and followed that up in 2006 with Hi Teknology 2: The Chip. Currently Hi-Tek is spending his creative energy as one of the famed contributers to Dr. Dre’s much anticipated Detox release.Originally from Michigan, Khari Needlz Kain gravitated to the music industry at a very young age. Deejaying regularly while attending Florida A&M University, Needlz began producing music as a hobby at the end of 1999. His pursuit to further his education and build on his new found pastime landed him in New York City. Being in the Big Apple led to an internship at Bay Boy Entertainment, and gave him the right exposure and connections needed to make waves amongst a sea full of producers. Since then, Needlz has gone on to produce a string of underground hits and club bangers for G-Unit, Cassidy, Ludacris, and The Game, just to name a few. AllHipHop.com: What is the least amount of money you received for a beat?
Hi-Tek: Five hundred. It was one of my first beats that I produced while I was in the throw with DTP. This was my introduction into the music business. I didnt have a lawyer, or a contract but it was my first jobs where I received a check from a record label. The beat was for a group, named Mood.”
Needlz: Ive done beats for free when I was just getting started. You gotta do what you gotta do. It depends on the situation. I started out at the same time with Sirius Jones.AllHipHop.com: Name a beat from another producer that you liked but didnt sell as well as you expected?
Hi-Tek: The Rick James & Busta Rhymes track, “In the Ghetto” produced by [DJ] Green Lantern.
Needlz: Anything from Nottz. His work is real dope to me.
AllHipHop.com: Name an album that you think would have done better if they had a different first or second single?
Hi-Tek: My album, Hi-Teknology, volume 1. If they listened to my advice and chose the single that I wanted, I think it would have turned out to be a better album in terms of sales. Instead, they used an R&B single.
Needlz: A Tribe Called Quest, Beats, Rhymes and Life. That was one of my favorite albums, but none of their singles did well. I think they had better tracks on the album.
AllHipHop.com: Name an album that you think would have done better if you contributed to it?
Hi-Tek: Talib Kweli, Quality album.
Needlz: Any album that Im not on. [I’m] Joking. I dont know, thats a hard question. Mobb Deep, Blood Money. For the record, I am a real big fan of Havoc and Prodigy.
AllHipHop.com: How do you keep your beats from being repetitive?
Hi-Tek: I am always advancing myself, musically and technically by listening to other genres of music, not just hip-hop and R&B.
Needlz: For me, I get bored easily and I couldnt use the same 2 or 3 drum sounds. Therefore, I try to make something for each individual sound; I guess I am just a precise person. When I sit down to do a beat, I always make sure that it is something I havent done before.
AllHipHop.com: What was your first career choice?
Hi-Tek: My first career choice wasnt music. Actually, I wanted to be a gymnast, but I didnt really think I could do it as a career. I had two other jobs that didnt last more than a couple of months so, I made my career the music business.
Needlz: I wanted to be an A&R. I always knew I wanted to be in music. At school, I couldnt see myself working in corporate America. When I was younger I played ball and was offered a few small scholarship. I didnt always know what I wanted to do in music, I just wanted to be around it. I attended NYU for Grad school because they had a music business program. I started making beats which later turned into an internship and people began to notice my beats.
AllHipHop.com: What is the first beat that you produced for an album?
Hi-Tek: I think it was a song called “Shines” from Royal Flush. It was on the same label as DTP. It came out just before the Mood album.
Needlz: On an independent level, it was for a cat called Afura, “Miss You.”
After that, I did a joint for the Ryde or Die volume 3 Compilation and the songs were called “Gonna Be Sumthin'” and “We Don’t Give A F**k.” AllHipHop.com: Name an acappella that you have used more than once to test a beat in progress?
Hi-Tek: “I Used to Love Her” by Common
Needlz: Nas, “It Aint Hard to Tell.” I used that acappella the most. I havent done that in a while.
AllHipHop.com: Which is harder, making a beat from scratch or making a beat for a remix on an already successful song?
Hi-Tek: Aww man, the second one, making a remix on an already successful track.
Needlz: The remake because there are boundaries whether it be the tempo you have to stay at or depending on who its for. When you create a beat from scratch, you are free to do whatever you feel.
AllHipHop.com: Out of the East coast, West coast and South, which area is the beat probably more important than the lyrics?
Hi-Tek: Definitely, the South, the beat weighs more than the lyrics. In the East and West, its even. The East and West have a lot more concepts in their songs based on the sound of the music.
Needlz: Now, it really isnt about the lyrics. Nobody is really saying anything. The majority of the music is the same topic. The subject matter isnt changing right now. AllHipHop.com: I dont think people listen to any Nas album for the beats he chooses.
Needlz: Of course, there are a few exceptions like Nas and pretty much the East coast because that is where it started and that was what rap was about, it wasnt about a beat as much.
AllHipHop.com: What are your upcoming projects?
Hi-Tek: I am doing the sound score of a movie. Its the documentary based on the life of [Leroy Antonio] Nicky Barnes.
Needlz: I have a track on Swizz Beats upcoming album called “Bust Your Guns” and a couple songs on Freeway’s album, Jadakiss, Serius Jones and a lot of other new upcoming cats. Plus, I am working with my new artists, Clipz.