With a production discography boasting modern hip-hop classics including Kanye West and Jay-Z’s “Ni**as in Paris,” Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” and Beyoncé’s “Sorry,” it’s somewhat surprising to learn that Hit-Boy (real name: Chauncey Alexander Hollis Jr.) is a first-time nominee for producer of the year, non-classical. For the 2022 Grammy Awards, the Californian hitmaker was finally recognized for his beat-making on Nas’ “King’s Disease II” and contributions to the “Judas and the Black Messiah” soundtrack, which includes one of his own songs, “Broad Day.”
What would it mean to win producer of the year?
It would definitely be a dream come true. We’re in a crazy era where certain people like to discredit the Grammys or discredit the award shows, period. It’s not everything, but it is a high honor. Just to be recognized is amazing, but to win? That would be major, man. Just for the people that have followed my story and know how much I’ve stayed down, that would be major.
Do you feel validated by the nomination?
A lot of people were hitting me last year, like, “Man, you should have been in there for producer of the year.” But that’s the way it goes, you can’t feel any way about it. 2020 and 2021 were my biggest production years and I haven’t even had any super-high, top-10 charting records. It’s more so about my consistency and quality level. I’m getting the most recognition and love I’ve ever had. I’m just locked in on a different level.
What takes the production of Nas’ “King’s Disease II” to the next level?
What separates the music we’re making together is that we’re really in here thinking about every step. We’re having two-hour long conversations before we even start working. We’re just formulating the ideas, and by the time we get to work, it flows. We’ve got a true friendship and work relationship.
How does it feel to have your song, “Broad Day,” on the “Judas and the Black Messiah” soundtrack?
That was everything to me — it was personal validation on the artist front. I also sampled Troop’s “Spread My Wings” on the song: My uncle is in that group, my grandmother started the group, so that’s all lineage. To be able to sample a song that I literally grew up on … it’s just insane to me that it worked out and got to be on a meaningful soundtrack.
Are we going to get an album from you next year?
A million percent. You’re going to get a lot of things from me. Man, I got a lot of stuff going on. Executive producing more albums, working on just a lot of stuff. I’m doing an artist project featuring my vocals and I’m also doing a production project with just Hit-Boy beats and different artists that I rock with and that rock with me.
Former HBO Exec Len Amato Joins MasterClass as Chief Content Officer
Len Amato, a 13-year veteran of HBO, joined MasterClass as chief content officer at the company that sells subscriptions to celebrity-led online courses.
In the new role, Amato will head up MasterClass’ content organization and help lead content innovation, strategy and development of class launches. He reports to David Rogier, founder and CEO of MasterClass.
Amato formerly served as president of HBO Films, Miniseries and Cinemax before he departed in late 2020. Most recently, Amato was an executive producer on HBO’s upcoming limited series “The White House Plumbers” through his production company Crash&Salvage, where he will continue to produce independently.
MasterClass provides access to more than 150 online courses led by experts and celebs including James Cameron, Shonda Rhimes, Ken Burns, Jodie Foster, Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, Nas, Gordon Ramsay, Bob Iger, Metallica, Issa Rae, RuPaul, and Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. An annual membership to MasterClass starts at $180/year.
“Len has been a pioneer in creating premium, original content, and I’m thrilled to welcome him to the team,” Rogier said in a statement. “His passion for storytelling, proven leadership and ability to attract talent will help us expand and innovate, providing even more ways to transform our members’ lives through our content.”
“MasterClass is setting a new standard for premium content with its cinematic value and ability to intimately connect world-class instructors with its members,” Amato said. “I’m excited to continue to democratize learning by bringing these stories to life in new ways and scale the impact of our content.”
Amato joined HBO in 2007 as a senior VP and was promoted to president of HBO Films the following year. Under his leadership, HBO Films earned best television movie Emmys for originals including “Grey Gardens,” “Temple Grandin,” “Game Change, “Behind the Candelabra,” “The Normal Heart” and “Bessie.”
Prior to joining HBO, Amato served as president of Spring Creek Productions. His producer and executive producer credits include “Analyze This” and “Analyze That,” “Possession,” “Deliver Us From Eva,” “Rumor Has It,” “Blood Diamond” and “The Astronaut Farmer.” Amato also was story editor for Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Productions. He started his film career in New York as a story analyst for various independent producers and studios. Prior to his career in the film industry, Amato was a musician and actor.
Music Industry Moves: FKA Twigs Partners With Atlantic Records
Along with her “Caprisongs” mixtape on Friday came the news that FKA Twigs has “partnered with Atlantic Records for this next exciting phase of her art,” according to the announcement. In the U.K., she will continue to release music via the Young label (formerly Young Turks) through Beggars Group.
“FKA twigs is the kind of artist you dream of signing — one with truly original vision, voice, and presence,” said Atlantic chairman-COO Julie Greenwald. “She’s among the most compelling talents, always pushing her creative envelope to deliver emotionally honest music that’s both intensely personal and universal. We’re thrilled that she’s chosen Atlantic to be her home as she continues on her fantastic musical adventure.”
“The progression of FKA twigs’ music over the past decade has been extraordinary,” said chairman-CEO Craig Kallman. “She’s never content to stay in one place – constantly crossing musical boundaries, embracing fresh sounds, telling new stories, and exploring what’s next. An amazing vocalist, songwriter, lyricist, and producer, she’s barely scratched the surface of her potential, and we’re incredibly excited to see what she’ll be bringing her fans in the years to come.”
+ Artist-services company AWAL has promoted Jennifer Kirell to senior vice president of catalog & retail marketing. Based in New York, she will report directly to Ron Cerrito, president of AWAL North America, and oversee and support artist and label partners. Prior to joining AWAL, Kirell spent 11 years with Sony Music Entertainment at Legacy Recordings, where she led global marketing campaigns and audience development strategies for artists including Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash and others. Cerrito said, “Jennifer is a goal minded, follow-through obsessed, results oriented, serial over achiever with a deep understanding of modern music marketing. She is also a thoughtful leader and people manager. We are proud Jen is a member of our executive team and look forward to continuing to redefine catalog and retail marketing into the future.”
The 2021 deal that saw Kobalt selling AWAL to Sony for $430 million remains under review by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.
+ RCA Records has named Alex John director of publicity. She joins after two years at Red Bull Records, where she worked with Blxst, the Aces and producer WondaGurl. Over the course of her seven years in the business has also worked for Listen Up (where she worked with Martin Solveig, Kevin Saunderson, Jamie Jones and others), FYI Brand Group (Jhené Aiko, Tyga, DJ Khaled) and M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment (Sprite, Coca-Cola, WAV Media).