When you’re an established producer like Hit-Boy, one might think that with new levels of success comes more commas on the check. However, in the music industry, that seems to be an anomaly.
Hit-Boy, born Chauncey Alexander Hollis Jr., is the perfect name for the producer responsible for hits that have moved the culture for years. From credits on Jay-Z and Ye’s “Watch the Throne” to producing tracks with Justin Timberlake, albums with Nas, Big Sean, and the list goes on, he has had his fair share of what life in the industry looks like. But, things aren’t always as they appear.
“I’m 33 now and have multiple Grammys, produced a lot of your favorite artists’ biggest songs on top of turning in over 450-plus records since I first signed and @upmg still doesn’t have it in them to simply be fair,” said Hit-Boy in a previous post on Instagram dating back to 2020. “If they’re doing this to me with all I’ve accomplished through hard work, I can only imagine the kids who don’t have big placements/proper guidance.”
Never one to shy away from speaking his truth, Hit-Boy previously spoke about what he says was a horrible deal. At the time, his claims about the predatory nature of the industry followed Ye’s decision to post screengrabs of his own contract on social media.
Let’s unpack the deal that led Hit-Boy on his quest to pure freedom in the industry.
The Questionable Contract
When Hit-Boy first signed his deal with Universal Music Group in 2007, his main focus was to make hot music. However, it wasn’t until he achieved the feat that he realized the terms of his deal.
“I didn’t even realize I had to catch an actual big hit to be able to go back and be like, ‘Damn, okay, what’s going on?'” he shared during an interview with VICE where he explained that it wasn’t until 2011’s “Watch the Throne” that there were some ill intentions that came with the record deal.
He further detailed how down to the lawyer, everything was allegedly a bit of smoke and mirrors.
“It took years for me to even know, so that’s already messed up. From my personal situation, it’s a lot of trickery,” said Hit-Boy. “Even the lawyer that did my deal, he didn’t end up being my actual lawyer. The original team I had basically hired him as a dummy lawyer to put me in this contract so they didn’t’ look like the bad guy, when at the end of the day, they really are the bad guy.”
At the age of 19, the Fontana, CA native signed a deal with the music publishing group. Hit-Boy told VICE that “he’d been locked into ‘the worst publishing contract’ his lawyers had ever seen, one that gave him a $50,000 advance at signing but still treats him like newcomer.”
The Quest Toward Freedom
“I was one year out of high school, my pops is in prison, my uncle was poppin back in the 90s,” he explained in a recent interview with UnitedMasters. “I didn’t really have guidance on how to really move and I got caught up in a deal.”
It wasn’t until about a year ago that his deal was revisited at age 34.
“I’m just now refreshing my deal like a year ago. It’s ridiculous like even just for my contributions alone, it should have been somebody at the head of the company to go like, ‘Let’s fix this kid’s deal.’ It’s ridiculous at this point,'” he continued.
Hit-Boy x UnitedMasters
Just last week, AfroTech reported that the producer and UnitedMasters announced Beat Exchange, a new marketplace for beats to help producers take creative ownership of their art. It is one step toward freedom that Hit-Boy not only wants for himself but for others in the industry.
“I’m really just reaching for complete freedom,” he concluded. “[I’m] just taking my power back in everything I’m doing.”