Hit-Boy has revealed the secret to his and Nas’ prolific partnership, which has produced four acclaimed albums in as many years — including three installments in their Grammy-winning King’s Disease series.
In a sprawling interview with ProducerGrind, the multi-platinum producer shared insight into his and Esco’s creative process in the studio, and explained how their approach differs to that of younger artists he’s worked with.
According to Hit-Boy, he and Nas come to the studio to work and bring the best out of each other, whereas sessions with other artists can often be filled with distractions.
“When I work with Nas, it’ll literally just be me and him in there; I’m doing the beats, he’s doing the rhymes,” he said. “And then a lot of times when you work with younger artists, they gon’ pull up with five, six, seven, maybe 10 n-ggas with ’em, and it’s like, I’m really here to do my job.
“Some people flourish in that, and plenty of times I’ve had my own sessions with a bunch of people in there. But when you’re really trying to cultivate something special, you gotta protect that space and that energy. That’s why I feel like me and Nas can flow like this because most of the time, it’s just us in the studio.”
He added: “It ain’t no bunch of outside opinions and people throwing off the zone we in, throwing off the vibe. It’s just like, bro, we gon’ do what we feel, what’s really inspiring us. If we not looking at each other and having that face like, ‘Oh, this shit hard!’ then we gotta go back to the drawing board — and we keep that as the base of everything.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Hit-Boy spoke about his “organic” relationship with Nas and revealed he serves as more than just a producer for the Queensbridge MC having helped engineer the majority of their music together.
“People don’t even know, out of the 54 songs that Nas dropped, I probably engineered 50 of them muthafuckas,” he said. “Like, really sat there and recorded him, punching him in.
“It’s beyond just the beat-making shit. And that makes me a better artist, that makes me a better producer, really being in the trenches with him.”
Nas and Hit-Boy’s unlikely alliance began in 2020 with the release of King’s Disease, which would go on to win Best Rap Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards — handing Nas the first Grammy of his decorated career.
Since then, they’ve released two more installments while also dropping the surprise Magic in December 2021. A fourth King’s Disease album is reportedly in the works, and will feature a rare appearance from fellow Queens rap legend 50 Cent.
Hit-Boy’s forthcoming solo album Surf or Drown (out March 24) contains yet another collaboration from the heavyweight duo, with Nas appearing on track number two, “The Tide.”
Other guests on the project include Curren$y, Dom Kennedy, James Fauntleroy and The Alchemist — the latter of whom produced the previously-released “Slipping Into Darkness,” on which Hit-Boy ignited a rivalry with fellow producer Hitmaka.
Check out the cover art and tracklist for Surf or Drown below: