Hit-Boy talks ‘The Chauncey Hollis Project,’ Nipsey Hussle’s verse on Big Sean’s album and more
Hit-Boy spoke to REVOLT about his new album, Nipsey Hussle appearing in his dreams, upcoming projects with Benny the Butcher and Nas, Verzuz battles and more. Peep here!
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Hit-Boy doesn’t take any days off. The platinum-selling producer — real name Chauncey Hollis — churned out some of this decade’s defining hits like “Ni**as In Paris,” “Clique,” “Sicko Mode,” Drake’s “Trophies,” Beyonce’s “Sorry” and, most recently, Nipsey Hussle’s Grammy-awarded “Racks in the Middle.” Now, his tireless work ethic and hit-ready beats have materialized into the fourth and final installment of his new album, The Chauncey Hollis Project.
Beginning late last year though early January, Hit-Boy began dropping off portions of the album in three-song batches — each personified by the California native’s unmistakable beats, relaxed-yet-confident flow and a few fitting guest verses. Now that he has released the project’s final three songs, The Chauncey Hollis Project can be enjoyed in its entirety.
Of course, the sought-after producer has plenty of exciting collaborations on the way, too. Speaking with REVOLT, Hit-Boy spoke about his new album, the Nipsey Hussle verse that will appear on Big Sean’s Detroit 2 album, forthcoming collaborated projects with Benny the Butcher and Nas, Verzuz battles and more. Check out our conversation and peep The Chauncey Hollis Project below.
What can you tell us about The Chauncey Hollis Project?
It’s an album, but I released it three songs at a time, just basically as I felt it. I didn’t really put any pressure on myself to release all of them at a certain time. I just did three songs at a time, when I felt like they [should] come out, so that’s what I’ve been doing. The last [installment] came out in January or February. So, this is the final installment. I’m putting all 12 songs out all together.
What I did, when I dropped each [three-song installment was] instead of dropping them like as an EP, they just all went to the same playlist. So, I’ve kept updating the playlist with new songs, and now I’m about to drop the last three, so that’s gonna make 12. I’m excited about it. It’s a super personal project. It was really just a project for me, just so I could get my thoughts and my true feelings out to people, so people can see where I’m coming from, perspective-wise.
I can definitely hear that it’s personal, especially since it’s self-titled. It also really shows your skills as a rapper, too.
For sure. You know, [rapping] is something I’ve really been doing since before I was even making beats. This was really just a time to dedicate myself to the type of shit that I wanna present myself on. It’s kind of got a more soulful vibe, which is a 360 from what’s going on right now.
When you’re rapping and producing a song, do you think of the beat first? Or do you already have a verse in mind?
I make a lot of beats, so I’ve always got something lying around that I can catch some inspiration from. I do think about the song structure, a lot of times, before I’m even in the studio. Even if it’s not a full song, I might have a couple lines in my phone that’ll spark something. I’ll get to the studio, and I might make a beat and be like, “This shit feel good.” Then, I might go to my notes, and one line might stick to that beat and then, I’ll build off that. It comes in different ways.
Are there any collaborations on these three new songs?
Definitely. These last three [songs] mean a lot. I got a song called “Nominated” featuring Dom Kennedy. In the song “Nominated,” I talk about a moment where, it was the year before we won [a Grammy] for “Racks In The Middle.” Obviously, Nipsey Hussle was still here. I had seen him [at the Grammys]. I was nominated that year for “Sicko Mode” [with Travis Scott] and he was nominated for Victory Lap.
The night of the Grammys, after we both lost, he invited me out to his Victory Lap party. You know, even though he didn’t win, he was still celebrating the moment. I wasn’t able to go. I left straight from the Grammys to the studio and I worked till like 6 in the morning – I’m not gonna say with who – but I worked with a pretty major artist. [In “Nominated”], I just talk about this dream that I had, that came to me – this was before I found out [Nipsey] was nominated for “Racks in the Middle.” I was kinda feeling remorseful for certain times where I felt like we could’ve linked up, but I just had other shit going on, or when I didn’t spend that time with him. And he came to me in my dream to let me know, we good. And literally, the next morning, I got a call saying, we’re nominated for two Grammys for “Racks in the Middle.” So, I felt like that was him coming to me, saying, “We good, you served your purpose in my life.”
The last time you spoke with REVOLT, “Racks in the Middle” had just been nominated. How did that feel when you guys won?
It was bittersweet for him not being there, but at the same time, it was sweet because we always believed in that song. We always thought it was Grammy-level. Like, production-wise, hook-wise, song-wise, verse-wise – the stuff Nip was saying – I always thought it was that caliber of a song. So, for that to be validated, like, we didn’t just feel this way…
You played an unreleased Nipsey collab during your Verzuz battle with Boi-1da and you worked with Nip for years. Is it safe to assume you’ve got more songs with him in the vault?
Yeah, I got some shit coming, for sure. But, the one that you’re talking about was a verse that I gave to Big Sean for his new album that’s coming out soon, Detroit 2. It was one of those moments where, me and Sean were having this conversation and I thought about this Nip verse just because it had the energy and the realness of what we were talking about. I played it for Sean and he was like, “Yo, I wanna try some shit” and he just blacked out on it. So, it’s a real moment for the culture. Sean and Nip was already talking about doing some music together, so for it to come full-circle like this, I’m super proud of this moment.
You’ve worked with Big Sean before, too. Are we gonna be hearing some more beats from you on his album?
I’m not gonna speak on the whole album, but I got a nice little piece of music on there. People are gonna see when that drops.
Benny the Butcher is also featured on The Chauncey Hollis Project and he recently said he’s got a whole album coming up that you produced. You’ve been busy!
It’s unbelievable, actually. Sometimes, I don’t even know how I be pulling this shit off (laughs). It’s my passion and it’s something that I’m built for, so I just keep pushing.
But yeah, the album with Benny, man, it’s phenomenal. It’s top-notch Benny, top-notch Hit-Boy production. I’m hyped for people to hear that shit.
He described it as lots of “feel-good music.”
It’s definitely soulful, definitely great-feeling. I’m just ready for people to really come into the world of what we’ve [been] creating.
Are you working with anyone else from the Griselda crew? I remember you teased a Conway the Machine collaboration a little while ago.
I got some shit with Conway. I’m about to send Westside Gunn some shit. I’m just working, man. I’m locked in more than ever.
What’s going on with that album with Nas? Do you think we’ll get to hear that anytime soon?
Man, honestly that’s a question for him! But, we got records, I’ma just say that. I don’t wanna go too deep into it, but we got multiple joints on it. I’ll just say that.
What was it like working with him? He’s a legend.
For sure. Just being able to be in the studio with him was an honor, for sure. But, making real, top-notch quality music, that made it that much more sweet. We wasn’t in there like, “Oh, you Hit-Boy, I’m Nas. We gonna make just anything.” Nah, like this shit really shines, it’s spiritual. So, we’re gonna see, in time, what happens with it.
Since your battle with Boi-1da, have you been watching any of the other Verzuz streams?
For sure, I’ve been loving them. I’ve watched The-Dream and Sean Garrett. That was cool as hell. Watching Babyface and Teddy Riley – they’re definitely two of my top R&B inspirations of all time. So, to see them doing their thing, playing their joints too, that’s always fire.
They’re nice because they shine a light on producers and songwriters who don’t always get the same credit as rappers.
Yeah, for sure. I mean, I’ve felt like, damn, producers are truly not understood. Like people don’t really know what a beat is when they’re hearing this shit. They don’t know the layers. They don’t really know how much is going into it. They’re really just focusing on the voice that’s on top of it. And really, half of the battle is someone making the song, literally.
How did you feel about your battle with Boi-1da?
I mean, I definitely felt like when he played that Drake, that put a little pressure on me. But, I found my way back in that shit!
Has social distancing been a major obstacle to your work or have you been able to keep it going?
It’s not hard, people are still reaching out. I’m emailing shit out. I’m having sessions here and there, but not too much ‘cause you gotta stay safe. I’ve been in a couple studios – some super lowkey shit. I’m just making it work.
You’ve been making hits for a decade. What are you doing this year to take your career to the next level?
I’m just working harder than I ever have in my career. I used to do one or two songs on people’s albums, and now I’m doing like half of people’s albums or their whole album. So, it’s like a natural progression. People are gonna be like, “Damn, Hit-Boy really everywhere!” It’s my own progression, though, just really getting into more of making shit that people wanna make songs to.
You’ve also worked with so many icons in the game — JAY-Z, Kanye West, Drake, Lil Wayne. Is there anyone you haven’t collaborated with yet that you would like to?
I’ve worked with a lot of people, man. I’m down with whoever wanna work with me, honestly. If you’re dope and you like what I do, let’s try to make some shit crack. I’ve already worked with damn near all my heroes. So, from here, I’m just tryna do more songs, more whole projects, just more.
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