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Dre camp veteran’s debut ‘hitts’ hard

Observer Scene | Thursday, February 2, 2006

Listeners may not have heard of Hittman yet, but many people would be willing to bet that they’ve heard him. In fact, if they dug Dr. Dre’s “2001,” then they’re already a Hittman fan. See, Hitt contributed his lyrical talents to 10 of the tracks on that album. Now, nearly seven years later, “Hittmanic Verses” is dropping and fans are finally getting that solo joint they’ve been waiting for.

The big question surrounding this album’s release deals with Hittman’s decision to bring it out on Sick Bay Records, rather than on Dre’s Aftermath label. Dr. Dre is a musical genius with whom countless artists want to work, and his talent and work ethic are unparalleled. Both rappers and producers learn from their time with him, labeling Dre as the Miles Davis of his generation.

But when Davis started out half a century ago, musicians had little to do with the production of an album. He was eventually able to wrest creative control from the men with the money, but perhaps he still had record deals with deadlines that pressured him to get things done more quickly than he would have if he had all the time he wanted.

Things are very different today. Dre has his own label, which means he answers to no one. The reason Dr. Dre has only released two albums in the past 15 years is because he is a perfectionist. It’s no accident that “The Chronic” (1992) and “2001” (1999) are as tight as they are. An enormous amount of time was put in – especially for “2001.”

The perfectionism that delays his own albums seems to carry over to those that he produces. He won’t put his stamp of approval on anything that’s not up to the stratospheric standards he’s set for himself. For whatever reason, Dre didn’t feel as though Hittman’s album was ready for release. Obviously, Hittman felt that it was.

Born Brian Bailey, Hittman is an acronym for Highly Intensive Tongue Talents Making All Nervous. And the quality of this record will definitely put other rappers on edge.

“Hittmanic Verses” is hotter than Eva Longoria all the way through, but some highlights include “My Last Dayz,” “When It Comes To” and “Let S*** Go.” This disc could definitely be spun at a party and get a great response.

There are 14 tracks – all music and no skits, which is refreshing. The production team, which includes Dre and Mailman (who both also rap on the album), did a fantastic job putting together rich and catchy backgrounds that support Hitt’s flow, which is better than ever. With a highly syncopated interpretation of the beat, Knoc-Turn’al stands out on the guest list.

So why did listeners have to wait so long for Hittman’s record, only to have it come out without the Aftermath seal? Take Eminem and 50 Cent for comparison. Eminem had two verses on “2001” and 50 Cent makes no appearance at all. Yet since that album dropped in 1999, these guys have both had multiple Aftermath releases. Why then does Hittman, who rapped an amazing 12 verses on Dre’s last album, get no love? Sure, there might be a couple of tweaks needed here and there (Hitt sounds a little hollow on “Get Myne”), but how could Dre leave this one to collect dust after the work Hittman did on “2001?”

Something is a little fishy on the west coast. Fans will just have to watch and see what happens (will Hitt be involved in the second Up in Smoke Tour?) For now, they can at least enjoy these 14 hard-Hitting tracks.

It might be a little difficult to find “Hittmanic Verses” in stores because of its independent release, but it can be downloaded from iTunes for just $9.99. This album is definitely worth the money.