Evan Nabavian is in the promised land. That may or may not be a party at Kanye’s estate.
It’s about time we learned what else the “Niggas in Paris” guy has to offer and if he’s really the new Kanye, as the murmurs suggest.
Comparisons between Hit-Boy and Kanye stem from the scrapbook style video for “Jay-Z Interview” and its Bink!-produced beat, which is full of old Roc-a-Fella triumph. There’s also the career trajectory: both landed beats with Jay and both revealed themselves to be rappers once their names were worth something. The similarities continue. The pseudo-profundity Hit-Boy displays throughout HITstory with lines like “Life moving too fast, hit the brake lights / I hit two bitches in the same night. / Got ‘em different hotels, but the same flight. / Man, this shit just ain’t right,” was pioneered by Kanye when he pivoted from social commentator to vulnerable fashionista.
But now we’ve arrived at the problem. Hit-Boy can’t rap. There’s no authority in his voice and he has nothing compelling or original to say on HITstory. He also references OJ Simpson twice. The only trick he has up his sleeve as is a poorly executed double-time flow, which is only impressive if you started listening to rap during the Obama administration. And yet you really want to like Hit-Boy as a rapper on songs like “WyW” with John Legend and “She Belongs to the City,” because the production soars. The big budget sound comes to him naturally and while he skips the expected “Niggas in Paris” redux, you can tell he would be able to pull it off with the right people in the room.
Perhaps Hit-Boy hit us with his solo too soon. His production is unusually mature for someone just getting his feet wet, but he clearly doesn’t have the vision or accumulated skills to pilot a full-length by himself. Still, we can probably look to Hit-Boy to produce the standout tracks on many mainstream rap albums to come.
ZIP: Hit Boy – HITStory (Left-Click)