Hi-Tek: Consistently Blazing Paths

When 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. Even from the days of his […]


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.

Even from

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: You’ve 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. There’s

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, you’ve 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

weren’t that happy with the way Rawkus promoted or marketed the album.

How did you feel about the way Babygrande handled Hi-Teknology 2:

The Chip

Hi-Tek: It was about the same

deal with Rawkus, you’re independent so you’ll only do so much.

I really feel like I make major records for independent labels. I’m making

these major records, and they’re not doing what they could do with

them, but that’s 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: It’s OK. It’s 50/50,

it’s a Catch 22 you know? Cause one minute I’m don’t really feel

like they’re 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, that’s

what’s 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, it’s not called “Underground,”

that’s wack. You know Tek don’t come wack (Laughs). That’s 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

wasn’t 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.

What’s going to be the feeling with this one? 

Hi-Tek: It’s always a combination

or a collaboration that you wouldn’t 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. It’s 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

it’s 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 I’ve done everything I had to do, but it’s 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 I’m not really concerned about sales like that. I know I’m going

to sell records, I’ve 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: How’s that

deal working for you? 

Hi-Tek: It’s going great

man. But you know, my daughter got sick so I had some family issues,

and I’ve kinda been laying low. Luckily I had the album all ready.

I’m supposed to be out there working with Dre right now, but I had

to lay low due to my daughter. I’ve 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, everything’s


AllHipHop.com: That’s good

to hear. Well if there’s one thing nobody can get enough of it’s

updates on Detox. What can you reveal about the project at this


Hi-Tek: It’s no information

man…(Laughs) You’re not gonna get it out of me! No, I’m 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 he’s

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: It’s hard to really

say, it’s just a process of elimination, that’s what producers really

do. He’s 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 he’s a perfectionist, and if I had the turn to do that I’d do

the same thing. I would never let no one dictate when I was supposed

to drop an album, because you can’t rush creativity. But you also

don’t want to upset the fans, so for the fans that are waiting on

the Detox album: it’s 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 don’t 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 that’s given to me, but I can’t

spend a lot of time listening to each and every person. 

AllHipHop.com: Maybe you could

elaborate. What’s the most professional or best way somebody can get

you to listen to their beats? 

Hi-Tek: It’s 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 it’s this and it’s that, trying to gas me up. It really don’t

take that for me, the music got to speak for itself. Somebody that talks

about it is usually not that hot. 

AllHipHop.com: You’ve 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, we’re 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 aren’t from New York? 

Hi-Tek: Yeah that song meant

a lot to me. I like to show my appreciation. A lot of people didn’t

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 didn’t 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 don’t 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 didn’t support me in the beginning with the music,” I wanted

to show him that I still appreciated him. So I couldn’t 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 that’s going on in the industry. But I definitely inspired

him, he wasn’t 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 didn’t know Josephine died of AIDS. I didn’t

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

about “Josephine.”