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Hit-Boy enters Grammys with producer nod while helping newly freed father

Record producer and recording artist Hit-Boy (Chris Pizzello/AP)
Record producer and recording artist Hit-Boy (Chris Pizzello/AP)

Hit-Boy will have his father beside him on the Grammy red carpet for the first time at the awards ceremony on February 4.

For three decades, the super producer’s father was in and out of prison, with his recent stint lasting nine years until his release several months ago.

With his father’s newfound freedom, Hit-Boy – who has worked with music heavyweights from Jay-Z, Nas and Kayne West – is focused on strengthening their father-son bond while navigating the music industry together.

Hit-Boy has the Grammys and a producer of the year, non-classical nomination in his sights.

He has had three songs involving Brent Faiyaz, Blxst and The Alchemist.

He also produced three Nas albums, including King’s Disease III, which is up for best rap album; one with Musiq Soulchild; and his two Surf Or Down albums, which featured the producer as a rapper and his father on several tracks under the stage name Big Hit.

When Hit-Boy first heard about being a nominee again, he felt an instant “wave of emotions”.

He was one of the most productive producers this past year compared to others in his category – which includes Jack Antonoff, Metro Boomin, Dernst “D’Mile” Emile II and Daniel Nigro.

“I literally broke down in tears,” said Hit-Boy, a three-time Grammy winner through Jay-Z and Kanye West’s … In Paris, Nipsey Hussle’s Racks In The Middle and Nas’s album King Disease.

He has worked with top performers including Beyonce, Mary J Blige, Drake, Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande and Jennifer Lopez.

But for Hit-Boy, this past year has been different.

“When I really look back and had that moment to reflect, I was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t have the biggest artists in the world that’s going to stream,” he said.

“They are going to make it work. I was working with artists that don’t have million-dollar budgets behind them.”

Throughout the year, Hit-Boy said he worked mostly with Nas and his father, Big Hit, who recorded his lyrics for the intro on Surf Or Down Vol 1 while incarcerated.

After his father’s release, Hit-Boy took him directly to the studio — where they both laid down tracks.

This month, Big Hit, 52, released his debut album The Truth Is In My Eyes, which features Snoop Dogg, Benny The Butcher, Musiq Soulchild, Dom Kennedy, The Alchemist and Mozzy.

He said it was tough being away from his son and watching his success from afar.

“It was torture just knowing the kind of impact I could’ve had and what I missed in his life,” said the rapper, who was arrested during a traffic stop in Illinois in 2014.

He had an outstanding warrant, which stemmed from a hit-and-run in Los Angeles which left several people injured.

At the time, Hit-Boy said his father was gaining positive momentum and made good impressions with the likes of Jay-Z and 50 Cent before his arrest, which the producer called devastating.

“I thought about how I could have shaped and moulded him,” Big Hit said.

“Being a wonderful addition. Instead of bringing him down, I could have tightened him up. But I still did my best in the situation where I was at. But we’re pushing full speed ahead. We’re bridging that gap.”

Since Big Hit’s release, Hit-Boy has been focused on keeping his father busy and spending time with him almost daily while creating an independent lane for their careers.

The producer said he has funded “every single thing since he touched down”.

“It’s bigger than just doing the music,” Hit-Boy said.

“I’m creating that network, helping them to have a workflow. I’m spending money on these marketing plans. I’m coming with all the best ideas I can. Every day is an adventure. My whole life, he’s got out and went back in. Stressed out that he might do something to jeopardise it again.

“It’s part of that brainwork where you just got to hold it down and financially. I wanted to build, put together pieces that would bring people completely into his world.”

Hit-Boy said several labels have offered Big Hit deals but they turned them down.

The producer said they will be better off on their own for now.

“They wanted to put some cool money in his pocket,” Hit-Boy said.

“But I’ve been in the game since I was 19. He got locked up at 19 until he was in his 30s. Now, I’m in my 30s and I’m locked up in the industry, because I’m still to this day in a bad publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing Group.

“I would feel so crazy to let my dad get caught up with these same systems, the same ways and ideologies that I’ve been fed since I was a kid. I just can’t go for it.”

Hit-Boy, 36, and his team decided against releasing Big Hit’s new album on digital stream platforms.

He wants people to buy directly from them, which according to his team has so far worked out.

“We got physical CDs. We’re not going to do any DSPs, no streaming,” the producer said.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of people complain about that. Snoop just went on a platform and talked about how he got a billion streams, but only earned about 40,000 or 45,000 dollars.

“I feel like if we sell 10,000 CDs, we’re going to blow that out the water. We’re going to start small. We don’t need to have a billion streams, because that might only equate to 10,000. We’re going to let people buy the music directly from us.”

Hit-Boy said he and his father are making music, doing business together like he always wanted.

If he could win a Grammy with his father, mother and young son in attendance, it would mean the world to him.

“Every time I won a Grammy, he was locked up,” he said.

“That would be dope to win. I’m going to speak it into existence.”