Rating: 8.5 / 10
“Yeah we on, and life was all so hard /
Till I made a song called (Ball So Hard)…”
Chauncey Hollis, aka Hit-Boy, has been welcomed into the G.O.O.D. Music family with open arms, and has since proven his worth behind the boards as the hits continue to add up for him. Being a versatile producer can have it’s perks of fame, but garnering a cosign from almost everyone in the industry can cause the spotlight to burn a little brighter than intended. As it turns out, so will making the announcement that you’re putting out a rap project, especially if you're known for being a talented producer.
Hit-Boy’s announcement and subsequent single release made him a somewhat easy target for internet critics, even though the song was solid all-around with a surprising amount of quotables. The only issue was with Hit-Boy’s 'voice,' so to speak; he didn’t seem as comfortable spitting his lyrics as the rest of his G.O.O.D. teammates. With the release of his free album, HITstory, that issue lingers only in spots as the overall project is tightly knitted and shows another side of talent that Hit-Boy legitimately possesses.
You learn things from being around Hip-Hop greats, and Hit-Boy has piled his cumulative knowledge together while adding his signature sounds to give each track a level of playability that is usually only readily associated with No I.D. and Just Blaze; in short, the production adds to the value of this so much it’s almost a sin to NOT mention how good it is. The chord progression, keys, and evolving instrumentation makes this just fun to listen to, and no track sounds the same. It but it all flows rather well sonically.
This is what was expected from Hit-Boy, however. He’s proven that he’s one of the best out right now when it comes to soundscaping singles, and we even knew the features would bring their A-Game (except Big Sean, who spits a disappointing verse), but the surprise is how lyrically competent Hit-Boy is when making those complete songs. Tracks like “Brake Lights” stand out for the level of quality behind the boards and on the microphone, as Hit-Boy throws thought-provoking lyrics throughout. In one of the more addictive tracks, “Fan” has Hit-Boy exclaiming about a female while making the parallel of being a diehard fan of her movements. He dabbles with personal narratives on the title track and “She Belongs To The City,” and flips completely into using his creativity when spitting about the last moments of Biggie and Tupac on “East vs. West.”
The only real issue comes in as Hit-Boy attempts to speed up his flow; it doesn’t seem as natural as it is on the aforementioned tracks (quick note: he sounds right at home on “Fan”), and with a project so airtight with it’s presentation, it sticks out somewhat in comparison. Over time, that will iron itself out, but the rest of HITstory is surprisingly well-done from start to finish. It’s easy to hate on producers who can’t rap (and, vice-versa), but Hit-Boy’s proven to be a wildcard to Kanye every sense of the word - almost in the way that Kanye West was to Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella.
If that’s some type of unintentional, prophetic foreshadowing of any kind, Hit-Boy’s debut album may be a problem… but let’s deal with that as it arrives. For now, Hit-Boy’s rap debut is well worth the download.