Hi-Tek – Beatbox Studios [1995 MPC 60II] (LP) [Hi-Tek Music HTK003]
Hi-Tek’s recording career began as a member of Reflection Eternal together with Talib Kweli. They recorded the classic Train Of Thought album for Rawkus in 2000 and while the rest of 2000 they concentrated on their solo careers, they reunited in 2009/2010 and recorded as Reflection Eternal once more.
After 25 years of living his dream as one of hip hop’s most respected producers, Hi-Tek is digging back into his roots with a brand new trio of instrumental vinyl LPs in 2023. “Beatbox Studios (1995 MPC 60II)” is the first of the series, each featuring a selection of restored and remastered beats, carefully chosen from an archive of DAT tapes. These LPs manage to both provide a window into Tek’s development and to shine light on the work of an already enormously-talented musician whose beats would’ve sounded right at home on classic releases from the mid-1990s.
Having learned to make beats off of borrowed equipment as a teenager, the aspiring DJ/producer born as Tony Cottrell achieved a break of sorts when he was hired in 1995 to manage one of the rooms at Beatbox Studios, a sprawling complex in the Clifton neighborhood in Cincinnati. It became the go-to-spot in town for emerging talent, giving him a chance to learn about the intricacies of recording and to sharpen his communication skills with artists to maximize their performance The gig also gave Tek plenty of downtime to practice on and to master the studio’s Akai MPC 60II while making his own music.
It was around this time he began to collaborate with the top rap talent in Cincinnati, and he started regularly visiting New York City to plant seeds for new relationships in the industry. Though his work eventually evolved far beyond the styles present on “Beatbox Studios,” here you’ll find many signature elements of that era’s contemporary New York sound: some snappy drums reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest or Easy Mo Bee, plenty of horn stabs a la Pete Rock or Lord Finesse, and the kind of dark pianos and filtered bass lines that producers like the Beatminerz were steadily employing.
These were his biggest influences at the time, and that was the sound of 1995. As it turns out, that classic sound remains in demand today, and while Hi-Tek was not a well-known name in hip hop circles at that time, the calibre of beats on “Beatbox Studios” prove that he was a talent to be reckoned with, even then.