Hi-Tek Groomed Dion Inks With Aftermath

Dion, a protege of hip-hop producer Hi-Tek, has signed with Dr. Dre's Aftermath label.

Dion, a protege of hip-hop producer Hi-Tek, has signed with Dr. Dre's Aftermath label. A due date for Dion's solo debut has yet to be set, but Billboard has learned that the recording gears are already in motion: Hi-Tek, Dr. Dre, Focus and Mike City will produce tracks for the project.

The 23-year-old Cincinnati-based artist came to Dr. Dre's attention as a result of his hook-singing talent on potential tracks Hi-Tek submitted under his own Aftermath production deal. Dre's invitation to record hooks for the superproducer's various projects led to Dion's appearance on "I'm Runnin'" from the Game's 2005 debut album.

For the still uninitiated, Hi-Tek describes Dion as a "new-age Marvin Gaye" with natural talent and a soulful sound. "What attracted me about working with Dion was his tone," Hi-Tek recalls. "He's a smooth guy who directs a lot of songs toward the ladies. He's also a strong writer with a real vision of how he wants to project himself as an artist."

Hi-Tek says many young R&B male artists are "aggravating and corny because these singers have got caught up in the Boyz II Men thing. I'm not dissing those cats. But these new singers have lost the raw, soulful edge that we used to have with Bobby Womack and other artists.

"That's what acts like Dion and Governor bring to the table," he adds. "Like an R. Kelly, they possess a raw edge with a hip-hop twist. There's nothing corny about them."

As for other projects on his studio board, Hi-Tek notes that he's in talks with Koch about distributing the follow-up to his 2001 Rawkus solo debut, "Hi-Teknology."