Hi-Tek Busy With Solo CD, Dre, Snoop

Noted producer Hi-Tek calls himself a free agent right now, but is keeping busy with a number of projects.

Noted producer Hi-Tek calls himself a free agent right now, but is keeping busy with a number of projects. The Cincinnati-reared Tek has two songs on 50 Cent's soundtrack to "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," and during the last couple of years, has been steadily racking up credits on albums by other Aftermath and Interscope acts, including the Game, Lloyd Banks and D12.

Current studio gigs include collaborations with Snoop Dogg, Styles P, Busta Rhymes and Dr. Dre's long-awaited "Detox" album. "I've been submitting tracks to see what he's feeling," Hi-Tek tells Billboard of the latter project

In the meantime, Hi-Tek is juggling several other projects. One is the follow-up to his 2001 solo debut on Rawkus Records, "Hi-Teknology." He describes the work-in-progress as similar in concept to his last effort, which featured a diverse artist lineup. "Upgrade this one to the 10th power," he declares of the new album that presently lists Nas, Snoop Dogg, Mos Def and Raphael Saadiq in the guest column.

"I don't consider myself a rapper," Hi-Tek adds, "though I do have some verses on this album. It's more about my versatility as a producer."

Building buzz through his work with various underground artists, Hi-Tek netted above-ground notoriety when he produced rappers Talib Kweli and Mos Def (as Black Star) on their pivotal 1998 self-titled album. Two years later, Hi-Tek and Kweli partnered as Reflection Eternal for the critically acclaimed "Train of Thought" album, which helped cement the reputation of Rawkus. In between their busy schedules, the pair are planning to record a second album.

"We're nitpicking at it right now," Hi-Tek says, "because Talib is working now on his next solo album. But we've done a couple of joints." For the last three years he has also been grooming an R&B singer he discovered in Cincinnati named Dion. Hi-Tek has featured him on various projects, including the track "I'm Runnin' " from the Game's 2005 debut album.

Lamenting that a lot of hip-hop sounds the same, Hi-Tek says he is shopping for the right distribution deal that will help him "keep my creativity. The major labels can stop you from being original. Right now they're looking for something that's already going on. I'm looking ahead of the game."