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Beatmaker Hit-Boy's boundary-pushing production style is the foundation for a bevy of platinum singles that began with a 2009 Mary J. Blige track. 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, Kanye West, Travis Scott, Beyoncé, and many other huge names. In addition to producing for other artists, Hit-Boy also makes tracks of his own, rapping and constructing beats for entirely solo affairs like the 2020 mixtape The Chauncey Hollis Project as well as releasing collaborative projects like his 2019 SOB X RBE team up Family Not a Group and his 2022 album with Pacman da Gunman entitled Bulletproof Soul. More than a decade into his career, Hit-Boy continued drawing acclaim for his innovative production with his work on Nas' King's Disease series that kicked off at the start of the 2020s. 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 resumé, 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 Beyoncé's acclaimed 2016 album Lemonade. In 2018, the rapper/producer issued the Tony Fontana mixtape, a collection of beats and rhymes that featured 03 Greedo, 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 track was released the month before Hussle was shot and killed in March of that year. In 2020, the more solo-geared mixtape The Chauncey Hollis Project was released, with Hit-Boy handling the majority of the rapping and only occasionally joined by guests like Benny the Butcher and Thurz. That year also saw the release of the Hit-Boy/Dom Kennedy collaborative mixtape Also Known As. 2020 also saw the release of Nas' 12th studio album King's Disease, for which Hit-Boy composed most of the music and handled the majority of the production. The album was received well critically, considered by many a return to form for the rapper. It also performed well commercially, peaking at number five on the Billboard Top 200 charts. 2021 was another active year for the producer, who worked on new songs with Sada Baby, G Herbo, Babyface Ray, and others before releasing the song "What a Life" with Big Sean. "What a Life" preceded What You Expect, a six-track EP that found Big Sean and Hit-Boy teaming up on every track, as well as a few songs with features from Lil Durk, 42 Dugg, Bryson Tiller, and Babyface Ray. In August of 2021, Nas' King's Disease II was released, reprising the rapper's collaborative work with Hit-Boy for a second volume of the series. The sequel fared even better than its predecessor, ranking higher in the charts and drawing more critical praise. Before the year was up, Nas and Hit-Boy teamed up again for next Nas album Magic, continuing the creative hot streak they were on. In 2022, Hit-Boy and Nas delivered King's Disease III, and in addition to high profile production work for Beyoncé, Glass Animals, YG, Doechii, and others, Hit-Boy issued a significant amount of work under his own name. March of 2022 brought Pacman da Gunman collaborative album Bulletproof Soul, and in May he teamed with Dreezy for the Hitgirl album. He also released several solo singles in 2022, including the Cordae-assisted "Checkmate," and "Tony Fontana III" featuring Curren$y.
© David Jefferies & Fred Thomas /TiVo
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