b. Tony Cottrell, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Although usually assumed to be from the east coast because of his association with leading underground label Rawkus Records, hip-hop producer Hi-Tek actually comes from Cincinnati, Ohio. He first rose to prominence during the early 90s, when several local Cincinnati producers/rappers took the youngster under their wing and showed him the ropes. By 1992, he was working with up-and-coming Midwest rappers Mood, collaborating on the track ‘Hustle On The Side’. Through his work with Mood, Hi-Tek became friendly with a rapper who was also working with the outfit, Talib Kweli, resulting in him producing a project for the Rawkus label by his new friend and Mos Def, 1998’s acclaimed Black Star. Hi-Tek and Kweli did not stop there, as they formed a separate group themselves, Reflection Eternal, and issued 2000’s Train Of Thought (also on Rawkus).
Hi-Tek continued working for Rawkus during the early 00s as an in-house producer, building up a reputation for versatility and reliability. He produced albums for other artists, including Blackalicious, Boot Camp Clik, Brixx, Cormega, Skitz, Tha Eastsidaz, and Truth Hurts, as well as tracks for motion picture soundtracks such as The Wash, How High, and Brown Sugar. In 2001, he released his own solo recording, Hi-Teknology, which featured guest spots by Black Moon’s Buckshot, Common, Cormega adding vocals to his beats. His former sparring partners Mos Def and Talib Kweli also featured as guests.
Hi-Tek parted company with Rawkus shortly after the album’s release, and subsequently spent time with MCA Records and Aftermath Entertainment. He released a second solo collection, Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip, in late 2006. The album was originally intended for release on MCA but was completely reworked following Hi-Tek’s departure from the label. This time around he even had a go behind the mic on what was a solid and respectable outing.