Los Angeles-based producer-rapper Hit-Boy sits behind a console at Chalice Recording Studios and thinks about the creative joy that transpired here a year ago. This is where he recorded “Racks in the Middle” with the late Nipsey Hussle and Roddy Ricch, a track nominated for two Grammys — best rap song and best rap performance. Even before “Racks” was finished, the producer believed it was more than just a hit. He thought it could be one of those songs that transcended its moment.
Since he emerged as one of rap’s go-to producers in 2007, Hit-Boy has worked with Beyoncé, Drake, Rihanna and Justin Bieber. He won a Grammy along with Jay-Z, Kanye West and others for the 2012 song “N— in Paris.” He’s produced plenty of hits. But “Racks in the Middle” just felt different, he says, largely because of his connection with Hussle. “He was literally sending me samples every day, telling me, ‘flip this,’ trading ideas. We just got really locked in. [His death] was super heartbreaking.”
Hit-Boy has moved on to other things — including his recent Family Not a Group project with SOB x RBE — but a Grammy win for “Racks in the Middle” would give him an opportunity to remind the world about the impact of Nipsey Hussle. “We’re just going to honor his name and have as much fun as we can,” he says.