Monday, February 12, 2018

I Miss Hi-Tech ...





Today, one question is still remaining ... What happened to Hi-Tech ?
A lot of cats still don't understand why this Bronx based emcee who dropped so many dope 12" singles during the mid 90s, stopped suddenly and disappeared from the indie Hip-Hop scene without dropping the ultimate album everyone was waiting for. 


Photo courtesy of DJ Shok 


 Philip Henderson a.k.a Hi-Tech was originally from the Bronx and then moved to Yonkers, NY. I don't really know when he started but he was signed in the mid-90s by Mass Vinyl Recordings, an indie Hip-Hop label founded by Michael Gomez a.k.a Dj Shok and Jason Heller a.k.a JayBiz.

Shok : "Jason and I had mutual friends and he was making mixed tapes “Uptown Labs” in the bronx while I was also spinning and producing in Yonkers. We were both working with Ei8ghtrack and formed a group Parallax. I wanted to start a label and put out one of our records out indie and I saw Jason was really good at business. So I made him a proposal. I would put up the initial money for the release and we could partner on it. From then Mass Vinyl became our baby.
I met Hi-Tech through a mutual friend, he would spit bars and show my friend verses he had written, so he introduced us. I was in my early 20’s and he was still in High School.
He had many rhyme books when I met him but I couldn’t say exactly when he started. He had a vocabulary beyond his years and a natural talent for poetry and rhyme schemes"

In 1996, Hi-Tech dropped 2 Maxi-Singles and featured on the excellent Mass Vinyl Recordings compilation called "Collectors Edition Vol.1". It was the wax which let me know this artist first.


12" - 1996 - Mass Vinyl Recordings 





He featured on both tracks of the A-Side produced by Dj Shok, "Weak Minds" also featuring J-Treads and "Book Of Death" also featuring 8-Track and The Hermit.

His first solo project was the 12-Inches "Book Of Life / 4 Degrees For The Streets" released the same year and produced by the same team: Shok and JayBiz a.k.a J-Sin. 


12" - 1996 - Mass Vinyl Recordings





This record was a stunning surprise, and to me it's considered as one of his best release. Both tracks and the remix version are dope ! The classic "Book Of Life" using a sample of "Woman to Woman" performed by Barbara Mandrell is perfect. 
He is solo on "Book Of Life" but his boys Mischief, Smoogie and Vision, three PFK members from Co-Op City, Bronx features on "4 Degrees for the Street". 
Shok : "They were Tech's boys and he wanted them on his first single. I heard them and I was blown away. The energy they brought to my basement that day was crazy."
The sample used for the original version of "4 Degrees for the Street" comes from a song called "Lost Art" performed by Anthony King and released in 1978.


Here comes the second Hi-Tech's 12-Inches released in1996, the legendary "24/7" which had a great success into the indie Hip-Hop community. The B-side contains the second part of the song "The Book Of Life" produced by Jaybiz. 

12" - 1996 - Mass Vinyl Recordings






Shok : "I will never forget driving down central avenue and listening to the radio when Kool DJ Red Alert played this song on the air !! I lost my mind because since the age of 10 I would record his mix shows religiously and now he was spinning my music ! Hi-Tech was still in High School and to this day he is one of the best MC's I have ever heard. Cutting Records distributed it and we did about 10k vinyl. Which wasn't too bad. This record opened up many doors ... "

"24/7" will be #2 on the Maxi-Singles Billboard list of January 1997.



In 1997 he dropped his third 12-Inches "All Time Einstein" with two other tracks "The Tech's Technique" and "The Music", with Dj Shok still on the productions. The main single "All Time Einstein" uses a sample of the theme from Hill Street Blues, a classic TV series which aired in the 80s in the U.S.


12" - 1997 - Mass Vinyl Recordings





'97 was also the year DJ Shok dropped his "Shok Therapy" with the single "Padlock" featuring Hi-Tech, Spectrum, and Jedi Son Of Spock (of House of Repz) from Flatbush Brooklyn.


12" - 1997 - Mass Vinyl Recordings 


 



Jedi : "Wow Hi-Tech... good brother. Met him in the NYC underground scene in the 90s. Can’t recall the venue. He introduced me to Dj Shok. Style was ill cus it was street but at the same time underground. Great voice in Hip-Hop."


In 1998, a connection happened between Hi-Tech and Creative, a European artist from Denmark. 
Creative : "I heard him on some independent mixtapes and thought he was incredible. So I wrote an e-mail to his manager JayBiz and asked if he would come to Copenhagen to do a track with me. I send over some of my music so they could listen to it, and they agreed to do a song with me. We flew them over and they spend almost a week in Copenhagen.
He wrote all his lyrics on the spot, incredible lyricist. Very quiet guy, almost shy. As far as I remember, almost one takes on the songs we did, really professional. He is one of the best MC’s I ever heard on the independent scene"


The result was a dope 12" released on Broken Records and composed of two tracks : "The Presentation" with its original and remix version produced by Jens Lomholt & Philip Dencker a.k.a Copenhaniacs and "Continuously" produced by Copenhaniacs and Jaybiz, also featuring Promoe of Looptroop from Sweden.

12" - 1998 - Broken Records





Few other tracks featuring Hi-Tech on other records exist but didn't make an impact, tracks like "Money I Got" or "Are You Ready Son?", both released by Ei8ghtrak in 1997 and 1998. 
Anyway, everyone was waiting for the album and no doubt he deserved it ... but unfortunately it never came out... 


 Shok : "We had planned on it. We were working on it but a family tragedy happened in Tech’s life and he went through a really hard time struggling with multiple issues at once. When it rains it pours and it really did for my friend. We tried really hard to get him back into the groove and already had 3 songs mixed and mastered ready for the album (still unreleased to this day). There were also a bunch more that were never completed. 
What complicated matters even more was the fact that my partner (Jay biz/Jason Heller) and I decided to end our business relationship and dissolve Mass Vinyl. So all at once things kind of fell apart for Hi-Tech in his personal and professional life. I stayed in contact and remained friends with him because we had a really special relationship. Our chemistry was one of a kind in the studio and to this day despite all of the accomplished emcees I have been privileged to produce music for I still consider him one of the best and most gifted artist I have ever known. 
Even after I was able to keep the studio alive after Mass Vinyl and signed with RR I tried to get Tech back in the lab. He was the first person I reached out to once I established myself in the business but things didn’t work out. I haven’t spoken to him in years now but I plan to reach out soon..."



Massive Props to Dj Shok, Creative and Jedi.


5 comments:

  1. didn't he have some serious health issues? i am sure i have read sth like that years ago.. Hi-Tech, one of the best in the 90s for sure!

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  2. found it, on an old Werner von Wallenrod post..

    14 comments:

    BlancoAugust 19, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    Hi-Tech was dope and all the Mass Vinyl roaster was ill!
    Yo, DJ Mike Nice who was/is down with MassVinyl mentioned few years ago that Hi-Tech had some personal issues and most probably won't come back... He (Mike) also promised to put out Mass Vinyl's older and unreleased material (except Hi-Tech's..!?!!?) but that also never happened and probably never will
    Reply
    BlancoAugust 22, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    More info on Hi Tech (after some memory refresh :) - DJ Mike Nice of Mass Vinyl actually mentioned few years ago that he found reels/dats of the unreleased Hi Tech album!!!!
    I remember I asked what's up with that and he replied "HI TECH no longer rhymes just keep dude in your prayers" - so go figure what that means... BUT that album is outthere! No idea, was it all unheard tracks or including those 12" joints...

    This is what he said about other Mass Vinyl material :
    "The unreleased MASS VINYL mixtape is coming. We are presently digitally converting the tracks. YES both (this and Faculty's "Hard Lessons") will be available in official cd format. the Mass Vinyl mixtape will contain all unreleased material we have enough stuff in the vault to drop several volumes."

    These were his exact words.
    Considering the fact that Faculty's album (which was pretty weak effort - nothing like their 90s material) didn't get a physical release, then I would be pretty sceptical also about those others. BUT someone should make that happen - Mike Nice is still outthere, posting on Philaflava from time to time...

    Aight, this is pretty much everything I know about Mass Vinyl/Hi Tech - hope that helps someone/somehow.
    Reply

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  3. I’m working on getting something released I am currently gathering music. If anyone has something they think would help please email me 7michaelgomez@gmail.com

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  4. Great post! I didn't know anything about Hi-Tech until now, but I always loved the tracks he released. I heard some snippets of unreleased Hi-Tech songs a few years ago, and they where great. I wish somebody would release the full songs someday...

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  5. Good write up. Always loved his work and hope he's doing alright. Would love to hear the unreleased joints.

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