Through The Eyes Of A Veteran – My Conversation with Hittman!

HIttman and The Asoka

If the West Coast Hip Hop movement were an army, Hittman would be a glorified soldier; a hero amongst his peers. Hittman was the most featured artist on Dr. Dre’s 2001 album! He showcased his skills to the world on 10 songs on the iconic hip-hop album!

His name will forever live on in Hip Hop history. I recently spoke with Hitt on life, music, and the overall ride that the music industry has taken him on….

The Asoka: What’s up Hittman, what’s been going on in your world?

Hittman: Wuddup man?! Whats been goin` on in my world you ask? Well let`s see, bills, an occasional cheap thrill & the never ending quest to stay real to myself & my craft. That`s about it, pretty much (lol)!

The Asoka: You recently dropped RNADW (Real Niggas Against Dirt Weed). How’s the reaction been to that and is that going to be on an album or is that just a single for the streets?

The reaction has been good man, especially from those that blaze & have had bad experiences with weed that wasn`t up to par, you know what I`m sayin`? And yes to the 2nd part of your question, R.N.A.D.W. is a street single that will appear on my up & coming cd called “BiG HITT: The Last Days of Brian Bailey”! I chose to drop that joint 1st for a couple of reasons. One becuz it was one of the 1st songs that we worked on & it was ready to go. And secondly becuz it does not forecast what the album is about, it`s simply one puzzle piece to a much larger picture.

The Asoka: I remember you saying that you like to do concept albums, what’s the direction you’re taking this album in?

Hittman: Yes concept albums & mixtapes are my thing as you`ll begin to notice once I start droppin` more material. For BiG HITT: The Last Days of Brian Bailey I`m using what I like to call the “90`s era of Hip-Hop” aesthetic. Which means I approach the music like producers did in the early to mid 90`s. Sample heavy tracks with filtered bass lines, cuts, scratches & sound bytes for skits. You know things like that? Also 50% of the rhymes are from my 95,96, & 97 rhyme books. Now of course songs have been tweaked & updated here & there but I doubt the listener will be able to tell where the adjustments have been made. The album is about the trials & tribulations of an underground artist tryin` to get signed in the mid-90`s through all the madness that was goin` on at the time (gang wars,coast wars & style wars [underground vs. mainstream]. My songs are like journals written in rhyme driven by skits in between that have been constructed from countless incomin` messages that I saved on micro cassettes. Kinda like Mary J did on “What`s The 411″ times 50, lol! So what you hear on the skits are 100% authentic & of those times.

The Asoka: Wow, that sounds crazy! I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to check out the skits on an album before! How close are you to completing the album? Who have you worked with on there so far?

Hittman: I`d say that I`m about 1/2 way done with the album. It`ll be like 22 songs altogether, 11 uni-verses (like R.N.A.D.W.) & 11 full songs. It`s mostly been in house, me & my man Pomo a.k.a. Pastor Po. But I wanna have at least one beat from all the head`s that I was doin` music with in that era like my man Yusef who I call Sef Hef. This dude grew up with Large Professor & in my opinion was J Dilla before I knew who Dilla was, seriously. Also my man Ralph M (original KDAY mix-master & Funkdoobiest group member), who gave me my 1st feature appearance on a song called “Life`s A Gamble” from Funkdoobiest`s 3rd album called The Troubleshooters. And my man Pockets(Bonnie & Clyde Theme) whose from around my way, Grandmixer Emz etc. That`s the plan at least but we`ll see.

The Asoka: And what exactly is the album making process for you like? How do you know when you’re finished?

Hittman: The album makin` process has been an easy one thus far becuz I did so much prep work before goin` into the studio. I have rhyme books & then I have composition books which contains the full structure of each song, where the sound bytes go, what scratches will be used, bpm of the sample etc.
It`s hard to explain how you know when you`re finished, you just know you can feel it. I was searchin` for a more profound way to say but I fell short, forgive me. LOL!

The Asoka: And when is the album going to be out and what’s the best place for fans to buy it? iTunes, best buy etc?

Hittman: Yep, itunes, Best Buy, Amazon etc. And since it`s still a work in progress I don`t wanna do like my mentor & give all types of release dates & the shit don`t come out on any of those dates (LOL), so I`ll just say when it`s ready. But I will be releasing singles with b-sides that don`t appear album up until the actual release of the LP.

The Asoka: Talking about the creative process, you’ve worked and learned from some of the best from our generation, what do you feel is most essential to an artist for writing a good song?

Hittman: Wow, that`s a really good question…..An infectious chorus or hook, clever lyricism (stay away from cliche`) and sharp exciting delivery just to name a few essentials. There are more…

The Asoka: What’s the song writing process for you like?

Hittman: My process to writing has changed over time, but in modern day I just write whenever the inspiration comes. Sometimes it`s with a beat and other times without. I`ll even just listen to a beat & write a story out & then freestyle lyrics while tryin` to stick to the story line that I wrote out. I do that mainly to determine the style & cadence that I`ll use for that particular song, thank GOD for Pro-Tools! Sometimes when I write to a beat that I`ve been listenin` to on repeat for hours the rhymes seem to get stale. But whenever I go in the booth & freestyle it comes out hotter becuz that`s what I`m feelin` at that exact moment. So I guess in essence my modern day formula is to blend 2 processes together to come with my songs.

Hittman Dr Dre

The recording process before Pro Tools was a long one. If you were fortunate to get into an official studio you`d better be on point or you were gonna just go there & waste money. If you wanted to stack the vocals on your hooks you had to lock them in through your performance. There was no way to copy your hook several times until it sounded big. You had to do them one by one. And if you planned on using more than 24 tracks you had to have a slave reel right next to the master reel which kind of sucked becuz it always took the slave reel a minute to catch up with the master and that would prolong the process of trackin` vocals, man just thinkin` about that is givin` me flashbacks of all the grueling sessions I`ve been through. So once again “thank GOD for Pro Tools”! The positive thing about having to deal with the limitations of analog recording is that it made you unafraid of the hard work that it takes to be a complete artist becuz you didn`t have a choice.

The Asoka: You’ve got a huge history with Dr Dre. What are some of the things you learned from Dr. Dre, and you know just the whole experience of being with Aftermath and the music industry. Is there something in particular that sticks out in your mind over the rest?

Hittman: Well, one thing I learned from Dre was to be flexible. Don`t be so set on something to where you`re not willin` to consider optional possibilities. You know like buildings in California that are not so-called earthquake proof snap & crumble when a high magnitude quake occurs. But newer buildings are built to sway with the movement of quakes & therefore has a better chance to be standing once the quake is over….I hope that analogy convey`s what I was tryin` to say, but if not fuck it, I think you get the point (lol). Another thing that I picked up from Dre was to be patient with the music & the recording process. He told me that “A G Thang” was the last song that he recorded for The Chronic yet it ended up being the 1st single and an instant classic from that monumental album. The same thing with 2001, Still D-R-E was the absolute last song recorded and it set it off for what would be another unrivaled offering from the good Dr. So his point was well taken. But what the industry taught me as a whole is that loyalty is not welcomed & will always be a second class citizen to opportunity. And I learned that the very hard way.

The Asoka: And out of all the artists that you worked with during your time there, who did you vibe with the most and who was the most fun to work with in the studio?

Hittman: I got along with everyone but me & Mel-Man clicked right away, same thing with Kurupt, Knoc-turn-al & Proof (r.i.p.). In the studio I vibed with whoever I was on the song with. But the most fun I had in the studio is whenever Chronic class of 92 (Snoop, Kurupt, Nate (r.i.p.), Warren G, D.O.C., RBX, lil 1/2 Dead, Soopa Fly etc.) was in the house, they are fuckin` hilarious, cool & down to earth people but at the same time very professional. I learned a lot from all of them. And no matter what type of industry politics or whatever I was goin` through, they NEVER acted or treated me different then they did when we all in the studio vibin` together. So I got nothin` but respect & appreciation for all of them.

The Asoka: Do you have any funny stories you could share, like something crazy that happened during a studio session?

Hittman: Aw man, there is a story behind each song on 2001 (lol), let me see! I got one about “Housewife” that is fuckin` HILARIOUS & it coincides with the song too but I think that I`m gonna save that one for my book of memoir`s that I just started writing called The Great Hip-Hop Adventures of BiG HITT. So here`s another that I can share about the makin` of “Murder Ink”. Okay, we (me, Dre, Mel, D.O.C., Kurupt, Six-Two, Sean Cruz, Mike Elizondo, Scott Storch & our in house engineer at the time Richard who we named Segal) were at a recording studio in Reno, NV that I can`t recall the name of at the moment. Anyway Dre, Mel-Man & the musicians are layin` down the foundation to the song that will become Murder Ink which is based from the Halloween theme from the movie with the same name. Come to find out that the resident engineer of the studio who I think Mel-Man gave the nick name Stern (becuz he was really tall & kind of looked like Howard Stern) was a HUGE fan of the movie & had all type of extra insight about Michael Myers. I think he even said that he tried out for the part in one of the later Halloween films, keep that in mind. So now the track is laid & soundin` phat, I laid my verse already while Kurupt was in another room writin` his verse to the beat. His verse was never heard by the masses becuz it was later replaced by Ms. Roq`s verse. So the lights are kinda dim we bouncin` to the beat the ones that smoke are stoned. All of a sudden Dre says what the fuck, as he looks towards the vocal booth we all follow his eyes to see Michael Myers(Stern) in that mask & jumpsuit standing there lookin` at us. First we laugh like “Stern is crazy”, 3 minutes later he`s still standin` there & now were startin` to get spooked out a bit as he slowly twist his head from left to right & back the other way. Then in a quick sudden motion he exits the booth. We anticipate him opening the door to the control panel but nothing happens for about two minutes then the door opens slowly but no one enters. Everyone in the studio is startin` to bug out, then the door shuts again so we`re expecting Stern to return to the booth. Out of nowhere the door flings open & Micheal Myers enters & taps Mike Elizondo on the shoulder, Sean Cruz whose standin` right next Mike jumps & crashes into the keyboards that`s stacked up against the wall. Mike jumps off the stool that he was sittin` on so high that he could`ve cleared the pole vault & placed in the long jump competition in the olympic games. All type of shit got knocked over & locked down but Mike as spooked as he was did not drop that bass guitar, & that`s what made the whole ordeal extremely funny. We laughed for about 45 minutes after that, woooooooooo…..good times I tell ya good times!!!

The Asoka: Is there a chance we might get to hear you and Dre together again on Detox? Have you had a chance to work together on the project with him?

Hittman: Well you know what they say, anything is possible! I have not been around the recording process of Detox in about 4 or 5 years but I do have slugs in the chamber if or whenever he does call on me to contribute.

The Asoka: What are some things that fans can expect from Hittman in the near future?

Hittman: The Hitt Maniacs out there as I like to call`em can expect to hear a joint called “Sugar” which is the B-side to R.N.A.D.W. very soon. Also I`m gonna start leakin` songs from my upcoming mixtape MWII (Murder Weapon II) so be on the look out for that as well. And I`m planning on droppin` a song called “Niggerish Ways” produced by Mel-Man along with either a song called “BedLAm” or one called “I Like 2″ as the B-side but I haven`t made my mind on which one just yet. Those two joints will end up on another album in the works called HITT`s Big Score. So stay tuned!


The fans can follow me on twitter @HITTMANsince87

The Asoka: Anything else, you want to cover?

Hittman: Yeah, I just wanna summarize what I just stated. R.N.A.D.W. (Real Niggas Against Dirt Weed) available now @ & The B-side “Sugar” on the way. BiG HITT: The Last Days of Brian Bailey a work in progress, song from MWII (Murder Weapon II) on the way, “Niggerish Ways/BedLAm or I Like 2″ coming soon & will appear on HITT`s Big Score. Thanks to all of those that support me & my music endeavors you are GREATLY APPRECIATED. And remember never, chose quantity over quality! Peace

Make sure you keep up with Hittman on Twitter!