Originally from the metro Detroit area and now based in Los Angeles, California, Hilton Wright II is a 2x Billboard #1, platinum & gold producer who has worked with artists such as Mike Posner, Big Sean, Drake, Faith Evans, Sofia Reyes, the cast of black-ish, and more. He takes Grace McCallum through how he achieved all this and more.
You grew up in Detroit, a music city famous for giving the world Motown. What was it like growing up there and what effect did it have on your early music-making?
In some way, shape, or form, everyone in the metro Detroit area is musically talented haha. It naturally rubs off on you due to the amount of great music makers that are there in the city. With so many great artists, musicians, songwriters and producers, hailing from the Motown era, it’s only natural for all of that talent to trickle down to the next generation. I am friends with and know a lot of descendants of Motown legends that are also music creators. Even my dad’s best friend from childhood (Angelo Bond) is a Grammy-nominated artist & songwriter for artists like the Temptations, Jermaine Jackson, and Freda Payne. Needless to say, music was everywhere in the city.
You’ve worked with some big names throughout your career. What would you say is your biggest career highlight so far?
My biggest career highlight has been working on the music for the Juneteenth episode of black-ish. It was such a monumental moment for the show and for Black culture in America. We ended up winning a 2019 Guild of Music Supervisors award for Best Song/Recording Created for Television.
What was the feeling like when you got to #1? on the Billboard charts, not just once, but twice?
The first Billboard #1 I received was for Big Sean’s debut album Finally Famous. That was really special because my cousin and I had worked with Sean for five years prior to the release of his first album so it meant a lot to see all of the hard work pay off with the album debuting at #1 on the Rap Albums chart.
How do you use Reason in your workflow?
Everything pretty much starts and ends in Reason for me. Reason is an extension of my brain at this point. Sometimes I might start with a vocal idea and I will record on loop and edit with the comp editor but most of the time I am starting with a chord idea using Processed Pianos (previously Reason Piano refill and then Radical Pianos) or a Rex loop. I even see certain Reason devices and the sequencer in my mind when I hear music or think of an idea.
There’s so much to find within Reason. What is your biggest tip or something you’ve stumbled upon in Reason that others may not know about yet?
My biggest tip would be to learn the program inside-out. A few years ago, I read the entire Operating Manual and there were so many small gems I picked up. I would also say take the time to go through all of your sounds and create the appropriate Favorites lists. This is extremely useful in keeping your creativity flowing because you know what you have and where to go when needed. Also, don’t sleep on the Factory sounds!
Finally, you say that you strive to be a change agent using music as your springboard. Can you unpack that a little and tell us what you’d most like to change and your plans for the future?
I want to empower people to take more chances and execute the ideas in their head. This is at the core of the projects I’m working on at Seven15. I’m working with artists from all genres creating music and video content that tells the story behind the songs, I’ve created an audio show (Deuce’s Favorites) where I walk listeners through my music collection, and I have a lot more planned for next year!