Hi-Tek: Hi-Teknology 3

Despite producing two modern Hip-Hop classics, Black Star’s self-titled debut and Reflection Eternal’s Train of Thought, Hi-Tek’s name unjustifiably comes up far less than it should compared to some of his production peers. His sound has been accepted on both an underground and mainstream level, with fans of his work stemming from Cormega to Dr. Dre. In a perfect world, Hi-Teknology 3 (Babygrande) should elevate his name as guests, both famous and otherwise, are culled together to assist his vision.

At hand this is Tek’s friendliest album to date for up and coming emcees. But he does flex one of the largest rolodexes in Hip-Hop by getting Ghostface and Raekwon (“My Piano”) and longtime collaborator Talib Kweli (“Time”) to spit on two of the album’s standout tracks. The former sees Tony Starks furiously rhyming like he’s starving for a deal over, ironically, a guitar-based sample and the latter spotlights Kweli’s skill over a smoothed-out Marvin Gaye sample. For the most part though, Tek lets newcomers like Push Montana, Chip The Rippa & Riz handle the microphone duties. Unlike the standard, “Let me put my man on even though he’s wack” track found on most Rap albums, Tek’s innate ability to craft beats to the tone and style of each rapper’s flow works better than your average beat for hire producer.

While funk and soul samples dominated the early part of Tek’s career, this third installment sounds more like an overall Hip-Hop primer, as Tek deftly jumps around from grimy to smooth to jumpy and all points in between. Even when the parts don’t work such as the uninspiring “Handling My Bizness” or the cliché “I’m Back,” it’s admirable to see a veteran producer step out of his comfort zone. Furthermore on “Ohio All Stars,” the producer deftly looks to the South for sonic inspiration with its prominent bouncy synthesizers.

Overall, Hi-Tek’s versatility and ability to craft memorable beats puts him in the upper pantheon of today’s Hip-Hop producers and with Hi-Teknology 3, he adds another notch to his growing legacy.