Let me give you a brief “hitstory” lesson. Before Kanye West broke through as the multi-million dollar mega producer/rapper he is today, he had plenty of detractors who had no faith in his prowess on the mic. This fact is pretty well documented on “Last Call,” the closing track on his debut album, College Dropout. It’s a pretty remarkable story, and at the time, it really provided perspective on the struggles Kanye had to endure just to get a shot to prove himself as an emcee. Nowadays, hardly anyone would ever question Kanye’s abilities as a spitter or a producer, as he’s grown to be arguably the most profound and revered artist in the genre opening doors for other multi-talented artists and producers who came after him like Pharrell, and more recently, Big K.R.I.T. & J. Cole. Now I’m not saying the idea of a rapper/producer first started with Mr. West, but I don’t think we’d seen a transition from producer to rapper quite like that before in hip-hop and his influence is undeniable.

While Hit-Boy & Kanye’s stories aren’t quite the same, it’s hard not to draw some parallels between the two of them, especially with Hit-Boy being the youngest protégé to join Yeezy’s G.O.O.D. Music outfit. On his own debut, Hit-Boy brings the same versatility and energy on the boards that he provides to the A-list stars mentioned above. With features from Kid CudiBig SeanJohn LegendBun B, & Chip Tha Ripper, you can tell he spared no expense with his invite list. The tape starts out with the aptly named titled track, “HITstory,” which brings the listener up to speed on Hit-Boy’s background, and what led him up to this point. The album then continues to the excellent “Brake Lights,” a calm, atmospheric song on which I could even see his mentor Yeezy rapping over if given the chance. Next, Hit-Boy speeds up the delivery on the banger, “Option” which features a guest verse from fellow labelmate, Big Sean. The fourth track on the project, “Old School Caddy,” has to be one of my personal favorites on the project for multiple reasons, with the most prominent one being Kid Cudi’s return to the rap game.

It’s after this point on the album though, that the project starts to flatten out a little.  As expected, the production itself is pretty dope, but the songs seem to start dragging on, with repetitive and weak choruses as well as mentions of the same old subject matter throughout (name dropping Kanye, Jay-Z, Watch The Throne etc). The project doesn’t really spring to life again until Bun B’s verse on the 8th track, “Busta Ass Niggas,” a notable feature from the soulful Mr. John Legend on “WyW’ and the project’s first single, “Jay-Z Interview.” The tape finally wraps itself up acceptably with the eleventh and final track, “Running In Place” as Hit-Boy transitions from the past to the future, while discussing the predicaments of his present success ala a young Drake on So Far Gone.

After listening to this project, I can’t say I’m sold on the guy quite yet; I would say he has a pretty solid flow, although there is something missing there. The dude certainly has tremendous room for growth, however. I can’t say he will ever be as impactful or influential as Kanye West, but he’s definitely got the foundation and right connections to build a strong brand of his own in the future. While this project by no means will be considered a mixtape of the year candidate, it can be looked at as a necessary step in the growth process of a very talented young artist. Everybody’s gotta start somewhere right?

Stream several standout tracks below and download the whole tape free here: Hit-Boy – Hitstory.

 

’Hit
Boy – HITstory’
’Hit
Boy – Option (Feat. Big Sean)’
’Hit
Boy – Old School Caddy (Feat. KiD CuDI)’
’Hit
Boy – Busta Ass Niggas (Feat. Chip Tha Ripper & Bun B)’
’Hit
Boy –  Jay
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