Hit-Boy, the Go-To Producer for Kanye West and Jay-Z, Lives Up to His Nickname (Q&A)
"I just want to show the world that you don't have to be boxed in," says Chauncey "Hit-Boy" Hollis, who's ranked No. 31 on THR's list of Pop's Top 35 Hitmakers.
Skipping high school parties to build beats paid off for Chauncy Hollis, the 25-year-old producer and rapper who goes by Hit-Boy. Through a well-received MySpace friend request to Atlanta producer Polow da Don early on, the Fontana, California native hooked up with Pharrell Williams and then Kanye West -- a connection that has proven paramount. Ever since West recruited him to produce his G.O.O.D. Friday Series' "Christmas in Harlem" single, Hollis has been on the superstar's speed dial, working on West and Jay-Z's monster hit "Niggas in Paris," G.O.O.D. Music's "Clique" and A$AP Rocky's breakout "Goldie." Will.i.am, Britney Spears and M.I.A. are now hip to Hollis’ talents too, and he’s breaking out with a rap career under his own Interscope-backed label, Hits Since '87, where he's also developing his own acts. From hard street rap to pop records, Hollis says. "I'm trying to just expand the culture and show people that you can come from the middle of nowhere and make it, writing very quality music that the world will love."
The Hollywood Reporter: Do you have a creative or work philosophy that you think has helped you succeed?
Chauncey "Hit-Boy" Hollis: Definitely. Just that I'm always competing as a challenge to myself, and that's one thing that I picked up from the people that I've always looked up to and I've had an opportunity to work with -- people like Kanye West and Jay-Z, and a myriad of other people. I've just always continued to push myself and challenge myself and think of things that I probably wouldn't have thought of normally.
THR: What have you learned from those guys?
Hollis: Just that. To always push myself. To always learn about things that you wouldn't have normally think about, especially different techniques -- ways to go about making a beat or writing a rap, just ways to push yourself.
THR: What's working with Kanye specifically done for your career?
Hollis: That has definitely been an amazing thing, man. Anybody who's close to Kanye, they know how their life changes, especially in a creative capacity. When you work with Kanye, it's just a different level because he's so respected in the creative world and just with music that you know that when he works with somebody they have to be of a certain stature or a certain talent level. So people really got to really recognize who I was and through messing with Kanye.
THR: What do you think it is about your work that sets you apart?
Hollis: Definitely my thing has always been to show versatility. I'm able to go from making very hard street rap records to pop records to everything. I just really want to show the world that you don't have to be boxed in, you can make every kind of music just as long as its of the highest echelon and the highest quality possible.
THR: How does it feel to know you've written a hit song?
Hollis: Sometimes you feel it and other times it just happens. Some of my biggest records like "Niggas in Paris," "Clique," a few other records, those records just kind of happened. I definitely felt like they were special, but I just didn't know how the world would accept them. You just have to kind of put your best foot forward and make the best music you can and it will just happen how its supposed to.
THR: The sort of success that you've seen recently, was it at all a surprising whirlwind or were you ready for it when it started coming?
Hollis: I definitely was ready for it because I've been working for a long time. I've been doing this for years. I got my first placement in 2010 working on a pop artist, Jennifer Lopez, and so for me to have the success I've had as a hip-hop producer, people don't even know what I'm capable of just quite yet. I'm just getting there now. I've got this "Scream & Shout" remix out with Britney Spears and Will.i.am and Lil Wayne and all these other fools and it's really getting me a lot more recognition; I'm just trying really to show people what I'm capable of.
THR: You recently announced your own label through Interscope, Hits Since '87. What can you tell us about that?
Hollis: I have a couple artists signed to me: Audio Push, a very young girl -- she's very talented, you know what I'm saying -- I got an R&B artist named K Roosevelt that's signed to me as well, we're working on a compilation album called All I've Ever Dreamed Of, that's what's really near and dear to me right now. I'm working so hard and making what I feel is the best music people will have heard from me thus far.
THR: Sounds like it's more than just being a producer or rapper, you're doing it all.
Hollis: Yeah, definitely. I'm trying to just expand the culture and show people that you can come from the middle nowhere and make it, writing very quality music that the world will love.