Brian Bailey, US MC.
Real name Brian Bailey, Hittman was born and raised in Branson,California in 1974. He was supposed to be Dr. Dre's next big discovery, and he featured prominently on Dre's second album 2001. Hittman joined Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment in 1998, and although he has released a solo album, Hittmanic Verses on 24 October 2006, on Sickbay Records, Hittman is best known for his contributions to Dr. Dre's 6× platinum selling album 2001, with appearances on nine of the album's 22 tracks. This makes him the most represented of 2001's more than twenty guest artists. Hittman was originally supposed to release Murder Weapon in 2000, on Aftermath, however, the album was shelved and Hittman left Aftermath in October 2001.
Dr. Dre in 2000
In a interview for MTV in 2000 Dr. Dre says:Well, Hittman is our next protege. He's the next person that we're going to groom and try to build into a superstar, super hip-hop star. He's incredible. He could sing, his rhymes are ridiculous, and his delivery is incredible. That's why he's heard on the album probably more than I am, you know what I'm sayin'. He's incredible. And he's a real cool, laid-back guy, you know, so I know, outside of the studio, he's not going to do anything to ruin his career.
Hittman in 2006
Here's what he said in an interview for dubcnn.com in July 2006:
Dubcnn: What's going on with you Hittman?
Hittman: Man just listening to some songs we're about to finish mixing down. Me and my partner Stunt Man, we formed a group called The Constructicons. We're about to put out something out real soon.
Dubcnn: Yeah let's talk about that later on. But first of all, it's already been 7 years since we heard you on "2001". What happened since then?
Hittman: Umm shit, what happened.... I left Aftermath like in October 2001. I was trying to get my own situation, I was signed to Scott Storch's manager Hustler Foundation like in 2003. But none of that stuff worked out the way I wanted it to. With me, if I don't have my creativity, I don't care what the situation is, I back up out of it. And for most of the time that's what it was, I didn't have my creative control. So at times, I had situations on the table but they ended up falling through so I didn't roll with none of that.
Dubcnn: Everything about you and your situation was kept secret, at least on the outside.
Hittman: Oh yeah, yeah. Well shit, nobody in that Aftermath era knew what happened. But my name is Hittman, by the time you see me, its too late. Like I said, after I left Aftermath I went into shell for a minute, just trying to find what I was gonna do next. And then when I found what I was gonna do, me and my boy LA Jackson of Hustler Foundation, we was gonna put out some things since he had Scott Storch in pocket. But then that fell through. But now, I'm about to put out a lot of things, starting in the summer. It's just gonna be a flurry of new music.
Dubcnn: How did you eat all these years?
Hittman: Well my publishing. As you know, me and Dre were probably on the "2001" album the most. So my publishing has held me down this far. Publishing checks here and there, and I write for people here and there. As a matter of fact, I'm starting to write for a couple of people now, which I'ma keep under wraps at the moment. But it's gonna be a surprise when people hear who it is.
Dubcnn: I think Ben Baller said you would write for Ice Cube?
Hittman: That was something that I was considering at that time, but he already had his writer and he was cool with that. So that was something I ended up passing on.
Dubcnn: So all this time there were no financial problems for you?
Hittman: Oh it was definitely struggle, but we're survivors man. But for the most part yeah, publishing has held me down thus far. And those tight spots, I write something here and just sell it straight out where my name ain't no where under.
Dubcnn: So you were still active in the music industry? Just not visible? Is that how you would explain it?
Hittman: Umm yeah, for the most part. But I'm about to be real visible soon though!
Dubcnn: What's crazy to me is... we only heard you on those 10 or so songs, but people still got love for you after all these years with no real album out. Do you feel the loyalty coming from the fans?
Hittman: Oh yeah, the fans is what kept me going. As far as the industry people, I wasn't really getting my respect or love. But when I'd be on the streets, it was nothing but love. So I was beginning to think it was a conspiracy against me. I wouldn't know why, but I felt like they was trying to hold me down. The music I was making, they didn't like it in the industry. But whenever I played it to the world, they went ape shit. So I may look for more independent avenues opposed to major labels. And the fans, man I love my fans. And I'ma bless them real soon! You can also check for the "Hittmanic Verses Volume 1", that's out now. It's just to let people know about the things I was working on at the time. But that's just to whet people's appetite for this next phase that's coming.
Dubcnn: "Hittmanic Verses" is basically "The Murder Weapon" bootleg that came out a few years ago?
Hittman: Well "The Murder Weapon" was me rhyming over other people's instrumentals and stuff. But yeah, those songs are from that demo that came out.
Dubcnn: Is "Hittmanic Verses" what the Aftermath album was supposed to look like?
Hittman: That was some of the songs I did on demos that was scheduled to come out on Aftermath. Some songs was close to done on there, and a lot of them were in the early stages. Half of it is the songs that were supposed to come out on Aftermath, and half of it no. Like songs with verses that needed to be added and things like that. Everytime I play it for people they go crazy over it!
Dubcnn: As for the loyalty, do you wish that the same loyalty coming from the fans was shown to you from Aftermath?
Hittman: Definitely, I totally wish I would have seen that type of loyalty. Cause the energy I put into "2001", when I was working on my album I didn't feel like I got that same energy back. And that's where the conflict came.
Dubcnn: Especially with you being one of the first artists to be signed.
Hittman: Yeah, 1998. I think I came a little bit after Eminem. But I definitely didn't feel like I got the same energy back, and that was the problem.
Dubcnn: Are you surprised at all by the love that you still get, when your fans could have moved on to the next stuff?
Hittman: That just let me know that the industry sucks! The artist they put out is garbage. And the fans know real Hip Hop when they see it, so thats why I have to come and bless the fans, because they have been loyal for so long. Like you said, they could have easily went to a million other artists, but they still check for me. As far as this new West Coast, I know I'm the blueprint writer, if not I'm the prototype!
Dubcnn: But if you say that, why didn't we hear too much from you anymore after "2001" came out? There was a lot of potential and a crazy buzz around you. Why didn't you take advantage of it?
Hittman: Everything just got shot down! See, it's a different era now. 50 Cent made everything where you're moving on your own. When I was at Aftermath I had to clear everything with the higher hierarchy. I would be like 'Yo I wanna do this radio show' or 'I wanna....', but since I was on Dre's album he was like 'Nah, let me introduce you'. And it never happened, so everything I wanted to do basically got scrapped. And once that album blew up, Dre was in high demand. Everybody else wanted him, so he wanted to take advantage of the Mary J's, and do production with all those other people. So I kinda got left in the dust.
Plus me and this kid Taz, he was part of this production company called Big Yacht with one of my other boys Ali. And at the time, the part that they were supposed to handle, we couldn't see eye to eye musically either. So that caused conflict as well, there was a lot of chaos man. Just being young and learning the business, it ain't no blueprint to it. Take advantage of what you don't know.
Dubcnn: And as for the listeners, the fans, they don't really see what's going on behind the scenes. They only hear the music, but there is so much going on behind it.
Hittman: Well it's funny you say that. A lot of the questions you're asking me... I'm working on two albums, one is called "Big Hitt: The Last Days of Brian Bailey". And that's the album about everything I was going through before I signed to Aftermath. Then after that I'ma release "Hitt's Big Score", and that's about everything that happened after the Aftermath album blew up. A lot of those songs I'm making is gonna answer all those questions in a creative landscape. They're gonna paint the picture.
Dubcnn: Yeah those 2 titles sound familar. Wasn't the Aftermath album supposed to be called that?
Hittman: Yeah, that was the album I was working on, "Big Hitt: The Last Days of Brian Bailey". But with the music I started making, it didn't fit that concept, so I changed it to "Hitt's Big Score", which is still gonna be that. Cause all my albums are concepts albums, so they gotta stick to the script. But now I just got a billion more things to talk about on the album. I had good stuff on it, but now I got pounds of shit.
Dubcnn: Do you regret that you didn't grind harder with so much potential behind you to capitalize off? Like do more features or mixtapes after you left Aftermath?
Hittman: Well, let me see... Yes and no. The mixtape era was always big in New York, but if you wanna be big on a mixtape on the West Coast, you gotta rhyme on DJ Clue and all those mixtapes. The mixtape game is not really big on the West Coast like that. But that was one of the reasons why Game got so big, cause he went to Clue, Kay Slay, and them. He didn't go to the local LA DJ's, cause it ain't the same movement. And with me, I was just strictly trying to keep up with the good Doctor and make sure my shit was coming out. So I didn't really care about the mixtapes as much, I really could care less. I was more focused on getting my album done. I didn't even really wanna go on the Up In Smoke tour. I wanted to go till the half of it, come back home and finish my album and by the time they got back I'd be ready. But it didn't go that way.
Dubcnn: And after you left Aftermath? Why not do a couple features here and there?
Hittman: Once I left the label man, I was so burned out I wasn't even feelin the rap shit no more for at least a year and a half. And then when I started feeling it again, that's when I hooked up with my boy LA Jackson. We was doing our thing. We had a meeting at Def Jam but it just didn't go good. I felt like on some fuckin American Idol, I had to do an audition type thing and I felt assaulted by the whole interview. I had the guys up in here and they ain't got 8 million sold under they belt. Not saying I helped sell that record by myself, but you know I'm a big part of that record. I didn't feel like I should have to come in there like on some audition shit. I let that get the best of me and the whole Def Jam thing fell through. That's way before Jay-Z got there though, it was right when they was going through they transition. It probably would have been different if Jay was there.
Dubcnn: One of your fans wanted me to ask you, how did you go from being all over the "2001" album to not even being alive?
Hittman: (laughs) Oh yeah! A lot of it has to do with me. If it can't be my way, it just can't be. That's the type of Hip Hop head I am. I'm from an era where it's all or nothing. Some dudes rap with their little side deal, some dudes are cool with kissing ass and sucking dick. I'm not with that shit. I know I'm too nice for it, so if it can't be the way I wanna do it, it just can't be. And nobody or nothing that people were putting on the table sounded good to me, so I just told everybody to walk with it. You just see me every once in a while, and whoever that motherfucker think is so great, I take the mic from him and eat him. That's what makes me Hittman, I lurk in the shadows.
Dubcnn: Do you think having your background will help you in the future, or are you gonna have to start from scratch and build a buzz again?
Hittman: I approach the shit like I'm a new artist. It's good that people know who I am, but the music I'm doing is new, the subject matter is new. Cause you gotta realize, half of my songs that was on Dre's album, was from my 1995 rap book. The shit that I was on at the present was flying over everybody's head at Aftermath. So I'm already at least 5 years ahead of everybody else regardless, at least 5 years. Like "Ackrite" I wrote that in 95. "Bang Bang", my rhyme from there is like 96. All those is old rhymes to me. But that's the shit people was understanding so I'm like fuck it, rock with that. But the shit that I'm on, I'm lightyears ahead of that shit.
Dubcnn: People compare your position on "2001" to Snoop's contribution to "The Chronic" and possibly Bishop Lamont's on "Detox". Is that comparison balanced out to you?
Hittman: In a sense. I don't know how Bishop Lamont will do, but Snoop was more of a character. And the difference is, the same energy that Snoop put into "The Chronic" he got back on "Doggystyle". That was the difference. I didn't get that energy back to do my album. But we won't know until we see Bishop Lamont. But as far as the introduction album, yeah there is definitely a balance. But Snoop is more of a character, I'm more of a MC. Not saying that Snoop don't rock the house, cause I see Snoop anywhere and he killed shit. But he was a character, he got that high voice and all the catch phrases. I was more of a Kurupt type person. I had Snoop's visibility with Kurupt's aura, you know? I was a mixture of both of those dudes just for the "2001" album.
Dubcnn: So do you think the impact of your debut album on Aftermath could have been compared to his?
Hittman: Ohh it would be great. I really just wanna make my own name in a similar way.
Dubcnn: It seems that there's no pressure on you anymore today. What is it like when you compare it to the time when "Forgot About Dre" started getting video airplay [with your cameo at the end]?
Hittman: At that point I was full speed ahead. But like 3 days after that video debuted my grandmother passed away, so I had joy and pain at one time. I was dealing with family issues and success of that album, plus getting into beef on the streets. It was like a snowball of shit. The music shit, I didn't feel no pressure. I felt like could nobody fuck with me at the time, I still don't feel like they can. So on the music end I didn't feel no pressure. But it was just other things going on in my life that were pulling me away from the spotlight.
Dubcnn: Was the transition hard to go from working with a perfectionist like Dre, to getting dropped and doing stuff independently again?
Hittman: It wasn't really no drop off to me. I was used to the perfectionist like Dre cause the crew I came from, we was from the same origin. So it wasn't really no drop off to me. And like I said, there were a million things that I learned from Dre that only added to my repertoire. So it definitely wasn't a difference to me. It's just that I wasn't feelin the industry and how they was moving. I don't like the formula, like 'Yo this is your song for the hood, this is your song for the girls, this is your song about your homies.' I don't like that shit. And if you look at any album that's coming out on a major label, that's usually that structure. The shit pumpin your name up, the next shit is about your girl, the next shit is about your crew. I don't fuck with that format. I wouldn't say it was pressure, it was just a conflict of ideas if anything.
Dubcnn: So when people ask you why the album never came out, is there even one real reason, or is it just too much that happened?
Hittman: It was just that me and Dre saw different creatively. He's the boss, and if it ain't to his liking it ain't gonna come out.
Dubcnn: Was it just Dre, or Jimmy [Iovine] too?
Hittman: Well he would tell me it was Jimmy, but I say him is the boss, so if he was feeling it, it definitely would have came out.
Dubcnn: So to him the record wasn't good enough?
Hittman: Yeah, or he just wasn't liking the content of the songs. I'll give you an example: Rakim was going through the same thing, and Rakim is a legend. I'm nowhere near Rakim. But still, he went through the same problems I went through. A lot of people is looking at me like 'Aww, what's up with you?', but then they see what happened to Rakim, and it took Busta this long to come out with his album. Sometimes you don't see eye to eye. Working on Dre's album, we had a ball man. Me and Dre, we was like eye to eye. But working on my project I wanted to go somewhere else with it, and he wasn't feeling that direction. So any idea he threw at me, I wasn't even listening to cause I didn't feel like he's listening to none of my ideas. So it just made us both stubborn, like 'OK fuck it, I ain't gonna fuck with it then'.
Dubcnn: At what point did you know your album was gonna get shelved?
Hittman: I never knew it, I was pushing it to the end. I'm a person man, until the ring I'm shooting. Until they pulled the plug on it, I always thought it was gonna come out. But I actually heard it from a 3rd party, which pissed me off. Somebody I introduced to the crew, a cousin of mine, she told me. And then I had to go find out 3rd and 2nd hand and I was angry about that shit.
Dubcnn: That's basically what happened to King T's album. Do you see similarties between your situation and his?
Hittman: Yeah, I definitely see a similarity. But that's my thing, the type of Rap / Hip Hop fan I am, I don't give a fuck what no magazine says. The people in that studio is feeling it, and we go outside and you're at the stop light and people are like 'Yo, what are you playing?', then it's good to me. I don't care about a record rating or none of that shit. Some of the best artists you ever run into, none of their shit sold. It's more of a politic game than it is talent. And I don't really play that game too well.
Dubcnn: Do you regret that you signed to Aftermath in the first place and waited for so long?
Hittman: Oh naw naw, that was a great learning experience. That's like a lost dude going to Yale. I learned a lot and gained a lot of alize. Snoop, Nate, Kurupt, those are my boys. The cats that I went on tour with. That shit is golden, that alone I always have respect for Dre cause he gave me that opportunity. But I didn't even think I was the type of artist Dre would mess with. Until I heard The Firm album, I didn't think he would deal with my caliber of an artist. But when I got there, Dre is a Hip Hop head just like I am. When we talk about Old School shit, we love all the same shit. So it became easier once I figured them out, but that was for his album. When it got to my album, some of the turns I wanted to make, he just wasn't with it.
Dubcnn: Why didn't you sign to another major at that time? I'm sure you had a lot of offers.
Hittman: Well Aftermath had to sign off my walking papers, and they didn't really sign them off for a long ass time. To where labels wasn't even checking for me by the time they did sign the papers, cause it took them so long. If they would have signed them off, I would have easily got a deal. I definitely think they put some difficulty into the game.
Dubcnn: Then we saw The Game come out as that new hope for the West. What was different for him? I mean what are some of the things that worked out for him, that didn't work for you?
Hittman: I think the great thing he had that I didn't have was G-Unit. I didn't have a G-Unit to jump to. It was 50 taking Game like 'Yo we gonna put this shit out', and that's what got the Game out. I didn't have that outlet. If he didnt have G-Unit he'd still be going through the same shit that I went through, I'm almost sure of it.
Dubcnn: Can we expect to see you get down with Game on something?
Hittman: Oh yeah, definitely. We know a lot of the same neutral people, so it's just a matter of time. And then come with a dope concept and not just rhyming over a beat. When I get with a high caliber artist I like to bring something like a "Phone Tap", just some ill type of concept songs. It's already known that we both can rhyme, so it has to be something crazy. Hopefully something like that will pop up on "Detox", you never know!
Dubcnn: What is your relationship with Dre now?
Hittman: I don't know, we're cool. I haven't talked to him since he was mixing down "The Massacre" album, and that's probably a year ago. He's a busy dude you know what I'm saying?
Dubcnn: There were rumors about you doing some ghostwriting work on Detox. Is there any truth to that?
Hittman: Yeah, it's a possibility. I know he's on and off, my boy Mel-Man holler at Bishop Lamont here and there, and they was talking about some things, so it's all possible. I mean there is already things written. When he was first laying down the groundwork for "Detox", we kicked concepts back and forth so I write the songs. But he hasn't heard the finished songs yet, no. He heard the first lyrics I was writing, so when he holla those will probably be the first songs I kick to him.
Dubcnn: Maybe for a feature too, or just writing?
Hittman: It depends on Dre. When he's working on an album, it just depends. It may just be writing, or I may kick a rhyme. It totally depends working with Dre. Things just come about in the weirdest ways.
Dubcnn: What are your plans for the future? Are we gonna see a serious comeback from you as far as albums or mixtapes go?
Hittman: Mixtapes I don't know in general, but Ima be jumping on a lot of them starting in the summer. Like I said I'm working on the albums "Big Hitt: The Last Days of Brian Bailey" and "Hitt's Big Score". And I'm in a group called The Constructicons with me and my man Stunt Man. That's some shit we got coming, the single is coming soon called "Sexual", and the B-Side is "Okey Doke". I'm working with producers people don't know. The producer people really know of is Mel-Man. I got a couple of 9th Wonder beats. I got a couple of Scott Storch beats actually. One I gotta make sure that it's cleared and nobody got it yet. But that's a banger for sure. But everybody else is people up and coming. Like my man Stunt Man do beats as well. Then this kid named T-House. I got a couple people that's fire. It's about to be a whole new West.
Dubcnn: How is it to do a whole album with a producer like Dre and then go back to an up & coming producer?
Hittman: Every producer I know works totally different, they all got they own different things that they do. It's just more free [with new producers]. Some of my dopest rhymes just come on a wimp. It's not always that concentrated structure shit. That's the only thing that I think is different, it's a lot more free. Anything I think about doing it comes out, most of my songs come about from freestyles. I go in there and freestyle and the songs get structured around to that. Then if I hear it's dope enough I write to that concept. And that's what the difference is now.
Dubcnn: How come you stayed away for 7 years and then drop 2 albums almost at the same time?
Hittman: Well, we got The Constructicons, and then me and Mel-Man is in a group called The Man, we're working on album called "The Man Act". That's why, cause I been away so long. I'm about to just come like a tsunami and just drown everybody. They can't escape me, you know! But it's just some new shit, it's nothing that I can really put my finger on that sounds like it. It's just good music period. I know people is gonna feel it.
Dubcnn: Is there gonna be any Dre involvement on there?
Hittman: I don't know, if it happens it does. But either way, it's gonna be hot regardless!
Dubcnn: When you were writing for the "2001" album, did you hear any songs get scrapped that later ended up on other albums?
Hittman: Uhh, it was many songs. But they didn't get scrapped, they just got put to the side. Songs that were incredible, like oh my god! If he made an album of songs that he never released people would go crazy, like oh shit! Like a 5 disk CD and just kill the whole scene! Yeah he got so many of those man. But I think one day he probably will release all that shit, and the people is gonna go crazy! Like the "Watcher" Remix, that was me on the bridge. I wrote a murderous rhyme for that too, I may put it over a new beat. There was also a song called "Blaww" that I wanted on the album, over "What's the Difference". And we was having debates, and I was like 'Man, take my verse off that shit then, I dont like "What's the Difference"', that's how much I liked the other song better. He was like 'You sure, the verse is hot!", so he gave Xzibit the opportunity to shine.
Dubcnn: How did that even come about that you had so many spots on the album?
Hittman: Umm, it was just me in the studio all the time. And everything I was spitting Dre happened to like, so it just ended up on the album. I was just there every damn day. By time we was like at the 5th song I knew it was gonna be huge. It was that West Coast comeback album, and it was the first time Dre and Snoop had did anything since he left Death Row. That alone was a selling point. And then he got Eminem who was like the new rap phenomenon at the time. And it got me, a whole different look for the West, as well as the whole supporting cast from the old "Chronic". So you can't lost with that combination, I knew it was gonna be big.
Dubcnn: Do you have any memories of Rakim, like freestyle sessions or things of that nature?
Hittman: Nah, I only met him a couple times. We kicked it backstage when Truth Hurts was perfoming one time. But we didn't really get to vibe and do no songs together. I hate that didn't happen. That's one of my regrets, cause I definitely wanted to do some shit with him. We was thinking about the Soundbombing album to get a song done produced by Dre, with me, Dre, G Rap, and Rakim. That shit never went down, but I know we would have killed it everywhere!
Dubcnn: You and Knoc-Turn'al made a good combo too.
Hittman: Oh yeah, definitely. Knoc-Turn'al is a great hook writer. As far as writing my hooks and singing on my hooks, I learned a lot from him.
Dubcnn: What has been the most valuable lesson that you've learned in the Hip-Hop game?
Hittman: Just seeing how the whole thing runs. Somebody of Dre's caliber, he's automatically going to MTV and everywhere he goes it's a spectacle. You can't buy that anywhere, so just to see all that was great. I totally cherish the whole opportunities.
Dubcnn: Is there anything that you wanna tell your fans?
Hittman: Oh yeah, I just wanna tell the fans good looking out for checking for a nigga for 7 years. And I'm about to lace y'all with a whole lot of new shit. Keep your eyes open man. You can check on MySpace real soon, new songs will be poppin' up on there just to give people a taste. You can look up on MySpace Music under Hittman. And check for all types of mixtapes as well man!
- 2006: Hittmanic Verses
- 2008: Big Hitt Rising (EP)