Beatmaker Hit-Boy brought his boundary-pushing production style to a bevy of platinum singles, starting with a 2009 track for Mary J. Blige. From there, Hit-Boy lived up to his name, helping define the evolving sound of mainstream rap and R&B over the next decade with production on smash hits for Lil Wayne, Travis Scott, Beyonce, and many other huge names. With the 2019 mixtape Family Not a Group, Hit-Boy collaborated with west coast collective SOB X RBE on nine tracks that melded the producer’s spacious production with youthful, energetic rhymes.
Born Chauncey Hollis in Fontana, California, Hit-Boy launched his career in 2003 by posting his productions to the Web, hooking up with fellow producer Polow da Don in the process. Polow signed him to the Interscope imprint Zone 4, and in 2009, he got his first production on a single with "Stronger" by Mary J. Blige. "Drop the World," with Lil Wayne and featuring Eminem, gave him his first Top 20 hit a year later, and 2011 saw him enter the Top Five with "N*ggas in Paris." He signed with Kanye West's GOOD Music label that same year, while 2012 saw him launch a second career as an MC when he appeared on various mixtapes and released the track "Old School Caddy" featuring Kid Cudi. Production credits stayed at the top of his platinum resume, however, with Hit-Boy produced tracks from A$AP Rocky, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Nas, Tyga and even Justin Beiber all arriving one after another. In 2013, Interscope picked up his imprint, Hits Since '87, and the Hit-Boy album We the Plug was released on the label a year later. His solo single, "Automatically," followed in 2015. Throughout the 2010s, the producer put his brand on dozens of rap and R&B tracks for big-name artists. As the face of popular music changed, Hit-Boy adapted, producing increasingly daring beats for newer artists like Juice Wrld and Travis Scott, as well as crafting the beat for “Sorry,” one of the more experimental moments on Beyonce's acclaimed 2016 album Lemonade. In 2018, the rapper/producer issued the Tony Fontana mixtape, a collection of beats and rhymes that featured 03 Gredo, Dom Kennedy, and others. In 2019, in addition to solo singles like “No Ls” and a sturdy collaborative mixtape with SOB X RBE, Hit-Boy acted as producer for what would be the final single Nipsey Hussle released when he was alive, the airy and inspired “Racks in the Middle.” The single was released the month before Hussle was shot and killed in March of that year. ~ David Jefferies & Fred Thomas