Hitmaka is everything his name embodies: a hitmaker. Previously known as Yung Berg, best known for his smash hits “Sexy Lady”, “Sexy Can I,” and “The Business,” the Chicago native has since shifted into super producer status, reeling in over 75 million in sales, 9 billion streams, 9 Grammy nominations, and endless timeless records.
Beyond his affinity for music and the art of creating music since the young age of 15, Hitmaka is the definition of a workaholic, someone who spends his waking hours in the studio doing what he loves. You know what they say: hard work pays off… and Hitmaka is living proof that work ethic, dedication, and passion leads to success, prosperity, and respect.
His all-star catalog of tracks include Big Sean’s 5x Platinum-certified “Bounce Back,” Meek Mill’s “Dangerous,” French Montana and Drake’s “No Stylist,” 2 Chainz and Ariana Grande’s “Rule the World,” Lil Wayne’s “John,” Nicki Minaj’s “Want Some More,” and most recently Trippie Redd’s “Rich MF” featuring Polo G and Lil Durk.
With his own producer album in the works, Hitmaka is excited as ever for his forthcoming single “Quickie,” tapping R&B greats Ty Dolla $ign and Queen Naija. But let’s not forget he recently executive produced Tink’s new album Heat of the Moment, proving his skill sets in all different genres.
Flaunt caught up with Hitmaka via Instagram Live to discuss his relationship with Nipsey, “The Business” being recorded in one take at Eve’s house 13 years ago, his unwavering work ethic, new single “Quickie” with Ty$ and Queen Naija, his producer album Big Tuh on the way, working for Tink, his drip, his take on reality television, and more!
How are you holding up with everything, the pandemic?
Just been locked in the studio: same thing, different day. Going crazy doing these projects, just foot on the gas man. Trying to stay as focused as possible.
It’s Nipsey’s birthday, I know you guys have known each other forever since 2007. What was your relationship with him?
Oh man, it was crazy because we both signed to Epic real early. We were the first acts: me, Nip, and Sean Kingston. We were super close. If you Google my name and his name or put in “Yung Berg and Nip,” we have multiple songs. He always gave me game, just was a cool guy man. Real great energy, never no BS.
What was your favorite session with him? Favorite record you did?
You never really have a favorite session with Nip because Nip wasn’t the guy you came to the studio and press play, then he’ll do the verse the exact same night. He always would take it and do the verse. With his creative process, he’s not the guy who just pulls up. Anybody else in the game, you get a verse real quick. You’ll get your verse later.
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Damn, you knew that about him?
Hell yeah, just from working with him and being there. But he’ll stay in there with you all night though.
I saw your post about celebrating 13 years since the release of “Sexy Lady Remix.” What does that mean to look back to all those hit records of yours?
Oh man, I don’t even know. I don’t pay attention to none of that, Twitter told me the most. Every time I look on Twitter, people would add me and tag me in videos. It’s crazy to reflect: 13 years ago. People don’t even make it 3 years in the game. For that to be 13 years ago when all the records went Platinum, it was a crazy time. To be in this field and career, it’s groomed me and elevated me to where I’m at right now.
You said “The Business” was a sound you and Rob Holladay curated. How was it starting that movement?
Truthfully, to be honest, I’ve known Eve my whole career. Eve was the lady who named me Yung Berg, Eve’s a big sister with us. I met Rob Holladay, I brought him to Los Angeles and we started a company together. We used to be at Eve’s house every day, drinking, smoking, turning up, making beats, doing stuff on FL. We did that beat in Eve’s house, turnt up. I said “yo, this is gon’ be a different vibe.” It was something we curated.
From there, I did the song in one take. My whole part and Casha’s part, the girl that sings the hook, in one take. I remember a crazy studio session, those times were insane. To know we made the beat at Eve’s house, then it was one take, I always knew that was the one. I loved it, one take and it was over. When you finish a record, you know what it feels like. You have that feeling, it’s crazy.
What’s up in your producer world? What’s happening with Hitmaka?
So many great things, I’m really excited about where we are right now. A few years in a row, we’re on a nice little run. This year, we got close to 20% of Urban Radio charts right now. I’m really trying to maintain and stay at the level we’re at, and also break out our artists and acts at the same time.
You got 770 million sold, 9 Grammy nominations, 9 billion streams. What keeps motivating you to do what you do?
I want to keep leveling up. I really pressed the reset button with Hitmaka and restarted my journey. I feel like a new person. I got a lot of good knowledge from those times, so now I’m able to reinvent and reposition myself in the game. Not coming from an artist standpoint, but coming from the fact of being an executive, being a producer, being an executive producer, being a songwriter. People are more so into the taste level, what I think is dope is turning out to be dope.
You said knowledge, is that from your time at Atlantic being the VP of A&R?
That too, that was all a blessing to be able to learn that type of information. I appreciate everybody over there.
What happened? You left?
I had worked there for 4 years, I had a situation where I couldn’t continue my career over there with them. At that point, I learned so much. I was in a different space, so I wanted to really go better myself. From there, I went with Ghazi at EMPIRE. First thing we rolled out was Yung Bleu, I did his single “Baddest.” I’m also the executive producer of Tink’s entire album, which is #1 on Apple Music right now. Go stream that. So many other records that me and Ghazi have done already. To be honest, there is so much more to come. It’s super dope, and my album’s dropping.
You got Ty Dolla $ign and Queen Naija on a record called “Quicke,” how did that record come about?
I’m excited, it’s an R&B record for the ladies. The guys can still bump to it, the beat is crazy. Shout out to my guy Skip on the beat, who collaborated with me on it. Me and Crishan did this record. He took it to Miami, we were working with Ty. Ty ended up cutting it. From there, I ended up sending it to Queen and she laced it. I said “yo Ty, I want to use this as a record on my project.” Went back and told Queen, said “Let’s do it.” They came and shot the video, it was all love. You know, I’m a serial collaborator with Ty. Then I worked on Queen’s last project, we had the pleasure of doing that. We got a bunch of new work coming out too, both of them.
How’d you know Queen was the perfect one for that?
With me working with Queen and Ty at the same time, her and Ty were already in conversation. We had brought it up like “it’d be dope for y’all to do a record,” but it didn’t line up on his or her project at the time. We tried to get Chris Brown on the record too, which will still probably happen for Queen. But this was the perfect opportunity. Alright well you might not be putting out an album right now, but I’ma put out my producer project so let me throw it out there so the people can have the music.
What is your favorite song you’ve done with Ty$?
[whistles] We’ve probably got over 100 songs out. Well, “Droptop in the Rain.”
I love that song! That’s such a great album.
That album was so crazy. We did 4 or 5 records on the album, the next album we did 8 or 9. But “Droptop in the Rain,” that hit different. We’re in Miami, we did that in Miami as well.
How often are you out in Miami?
A lot, we were working at Hit Factory in Miami. Me and Crishan, shit we went crazy. It was a great vibe down there.
What can we expect from the “Quickie” video?
“Quickie” is based around wanting to be intimate with somebody, but not having the right amount of time. [laughs] You might be on the run, on-the-go. The song’s crazy. I’m in the video a lot, ya’ll gotta see.
As you should be! Producers need to be in the videos.
Yeah, Ty got a girlfriend right now. Queen’s in a relationship, so they couldn’t do the “Quickie” vibes. I had to take one for the team. [laughs]
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What’s up with Hitmaka’s dating life?
Nah, I don’t got no dating life. It’s hard to work in the studio as much as we do. Sunday’s my day off where I chill at the crib and don’t do nothing. Everyday we’re in the studio, 6 days a week.
Your work ethic is something that stuck with me from last time. Where do you get that from?
We love it. We love what we do, so it’s not really work to us. Only time it feels like work is when we get in there, the creativity might not be there or it might not be the right vibe. That’s when you stop like “Yo, I’m not inspired right now.” But the work is nonstop because it’s fun. Basketball players love to go and play basketball, it’s not work to them. It’s that type of vibe.
How quick can you cook up a beat?
A lot of times, it’s a different process. Sometimes I collaborate with guys who already have beats or ideas that’s made. They’ll say “you could write a hit record to this. You could rearrange, do whatever you want to do.” Or we might cook it up from scratch to where I’ll come up with the ideas, send it to my guy Paul Cabbin. He’ll replay everything, Cardiak making the drums, different guys that I work with. Rock Boy, a lot of different collaborators we have.
From there, we cook up the idea for the song. It probably takes 8 minutes. The job really begins at that moment because alright, we have a great demo. Now we have to go and find the right artists, get them on the record, make sure they perform the record vocally very well. Make sure the mix is right. Make sure if we need a feature, go get the feature, then come back and bring the whole song all the way home the way you guys hear it. It’s a video, it’s on the radio, etc.
How do you keep everything so organized? Every day you’re cooking up, it just piles on and on.
It’s organized chaos: so many songs, so many different ideas. The key is to keep creating. When you do finally get the moment to where you work with artists you’ve been waiting to work with, you’ll have enough ammo to go crazy. If you want a whole album that night, you’ll still be able to do it.
You executive produced Tink’s new album. How did y’all tap in?
Mikkey, my guy from Chicago, he introduced us. That’s family. From there, we linked up. The first studio session was cool, we caught a vibe. We did our project in a real short amount of time. We linked up 3 or 4 times and did the whole project, it was done in 3 weeks. It was really cool
What was the vibe? What was the energy?
Shit, tequila, weed, and heartbreak. [laughs] I was in the mix of it. I was blessed to be a part of it, to work real closely with her and get to pick her brain with a lot of different things. How she approaches records, how she wants to approach records, how we should do visuals. It’s dope to really be hands-on with a project like that.
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Tink just put out the video for “Heat Of The Moment,” right?
Yeah, that shit’s going crazy. We just finished a video with her and Davido called “Might Let You,” that’ll be out soon.
How did that collab happen?
Me and Davido had worked before. We worked on a Fabolous record with him and Jeremih called “Choosy,” which was dope. I worked a lot on Yung Bleu’s album. Yung Bleu had seen Davido in Africa, they were shooting a video as well. Davido hit me up like, “We gotta work more.” I said “You know what, perfect timing. This is what we should do.” He happened to be in LA, we shot the video. Shout out to Riveting Entertainment, it was a dope vibe.
What does it mean to be able to bring artists together and make dope shit happen?
It’s a blessing because I got great relationships. I’ve really been in the trenches with a lot of these artists. Like French Montana, I’m executive producer on his album that’s coming out real soon. His next single is crazy. I have 9 records on his album about to come out. We’ve been locked in from the jump, from the trenches. He was on a downtime, and we locked real crazy. I’m cool with a lot of people so I’m able to get it done, and people know I’m gonna make a hit record. Every time we work, it’s plaques. It’s dope.
Where are your plaques?
I don’t even buy plaques, I don’t want to get caught up in it. I got this one because my people’s said “you gotta buy a plaque.” [shows off Hitmaka plaques] It says 70 million digital sales, 8 billion streams. It’s big as hell too, it’s heavy. I don’t pay attention to that shit, I be letting the work go. I’d rather keep in a closet, then at the end say “Damn, I did that.” But not on the everyday, gassing myself up.
What can we expect from your producer album?
Crazy hits. I’m giving y’all 10 hits, I’ma put them all out as videos and singles. I’m giving y’all 10 hits, back to back to back. I’ll have a plaque for every one of them. “Thot Box” is out, it has a plaque. I appreciate everybody involved with it. “Thot Box” is Gold, this next one goes Gold. I’ll put out the next one, it’ll go Gold.
Is it going to be hella features on each record?
Hell yeah. Ty and Queen, then I got another one where I’m going on a Spanish vibe: myself, Jeremih, and 2 big Spanish acts. I’m taking it there on the third one. I’m finna go into that lane real quick.
Do you have a name for the producer album?
Big Tuh. I was saying “tuh” real early, before everybody ran off with it. I said Big Tuh, it’s a real F you.
At this point, do you feel like you have something to prove?
Hell yeah. Not to people who are producers in the game or my peers, but more so to myself. I aspire to be super out of here. I love L.A. Reid, he’s a guy I really look up to. I really want to run one of these companies and be at the head of it, to open up doors for people like me. I have my own company with Crishan, I want to take shit to the next level. I’m not satisfied. I’m just getting started forreal.
Talk about your love for watches and jewelry. What you got on right now?
We got the AP Royal Oak solid rose gold on right now. This one is $80K. These baguette cross chains, Nafi made these in Atlanta at Jewelry Unlimited. My earrings, these are 4.5 carat each.
Do you need your jewelry and drip to create in the studio, to catch a vibe?
Yeah. If you go in there feeling like money, the song’s better. If you go in there and you’re grimy, okay you might be trying to make a sad song. But for me to go in there and feel good, really feel like I’m stunting like I’m flossing, you gotta have the correct—it’s a costume, like Superman or something.
You were on Love & Hip Hop in 2014. What’s your take on reality TV?
I haven’t really been watching that shit forreal forreal. I’m not in tune. I’m out of the loop. If I don’t see it scrolling through my Instagram, I really don’t see it. I haven’t watched Love & Hip Hop in forever.
How’d it feel being on it though?
I’m sure the money wasn’t bad!
It was trash. It was bittersweet, it’s good and bad. I wouldn’t recommend you do television unless you really have a hand in executive producing, how everything’s going to be laid out and portrayed. It was trash to me, but I respect anybody that’s on it and doing their thing.
Anything else that you’re excited about?
Every Friday, something new will be releasing. I promised that for the whole summer, so I’ma ride it out on Friday. It’s more work coming out. “Quickie” is out, I’m excited man. I want people to be in tune with that, stay in tune with the brand. Make a sound, everything we got coming man. We got a lot of new acts, I’m super excited to be a part of where I am right now.