From Abu Dhabi to New York and Los Angeles, 24-year-old California producer Hit-Boy traveled all over the world alongside Jay-Z and Kanye West to work on the duo’s highly-anticipated album, Watch the Throne. The end result? Production credit for a track called “Niggas in Paris,” a high-energy, fan-favorite record on the set.
One of the latest additions to Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music label, the Surf Club crew originator appears on the project alongside accomplished producers like Swizz Beatz, The Neptunes, Mike Dean, The RZA, 88-Keys and ‘Ye himself.
The relatively new mixmaster, who also created Lil Wayne and Eminem’s 2010 single, “Drop the World,” and most recently Pusha T’s “My God” single, and his co-manager, Ricky Anderson, sat down with XXL to talk about his WTT journey, including forgetting his clothes before an impromptu trip and receiving a surprise visit from Hov. —Rachelle Jean-Louis
XXL: How did you link with G.O.O.D. Music?
Hit-Boy: I ended up meeting Polow Da Don on Myspace in like ’06. We did some work together, and I was signed to him for a little bit. I made a lot of moves over there, and then through mutual friends and stuff I ended up meeting Ricky Anderson, who’s Kanye’s cousin and now my co-manager. That’s how I got into the whole G.O.O.D. Music situation.
How exactly did you meet Ricky?
H.B.: I met Ricky through my boy Dolla. He’s not even an industry dude, he’s like my homie, really, and that’s his cousin. So he just linked us up. He was saying Ricky was looking for some stuff for Kanye. I’m just like okay, cool, ‘cause I had met Kanye before in like ’07. I actually did play him music, and he was really messing with it. But it didn’t connect the way I wanted it to. So I linked up with him through Ricky, and the rest is history.
Tell us how you got involved with Watch the Throne.
H.B.: We had flown over to Abu Dhabi. It was crazy. We were supposed to be there for three weeks, something like that. We get over there, and I had packed clothes for weather that was similar to California. So we get there, and we go to dinner. At dinner, Kanye’s like I’m not really feeling the vibe here; we should just go back to the US. So I’m like okay? [laughs] This is after a 16-hour flight, so we worked a night in Abu Dhabi. We came up with some great music that night, actually. Next day, we decided on coming to New York. It was freezing cold. I was not prepared—had no sweaters. But I ended up knowing some people that gave me some free stuff, shout out to 10 Deep and a few other brands. But yeah, I ended up getting some stuff. So we came out here in January. Everybody was here. Pusha—that’s when I did the “My God” joint up here. I did stuff with John Legend, I did stuff with Kanye, I did stuff with Watch the Throne, CyHi was up here, Big Sean—I did stuff with Cudi—pretty much the whole G.O.O.D. Music. That’s when I started crafting stuff specifically for Watch the Throne.
Was this before or after you signed to G.O.O.D. Music?
H.B.: This was before. I did “Christmas in Harlem,” so after that [Kanye] took an interest. Ricky approached me about possibly being down with the team. So I guess the trip out here just kinda solidified my stay at G.O.O.D. Music.
So you said that you had done a few beats for Watch the Throne. Did any of those beats become “Niggas in Paris”?
H.B.: That was actually something completely different. That was a joint that I did at the crib. They were in Paris, and I didn’t get to actually attend those sessions out there, but I just got a hit-up on e-mail saying, “Yo, we need the files to this beat,” and it turned out to be “Niggas in Paris”.
For those that haven’t heard it yet, what’s “Niggas in Paris” about?
H.B.: “Niggas in Paris” is just a high-energy record. It’s gonna be played in the club, I feel. It’s something that can be played on the radio. It’s one of those joints that get you out your seat for sure. It’s about ballin’ man! [laughs] It’s like real stunt-tastic. Every time I hear those dudes rap on my beats, I’m still in awe. I’m a fan. These are really two dudes that I looked up to the most out of any artist, pretty much. It’s just surreal.
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