Introducing the producer behind Houdini’s “Late Nights” hit: Hirst Beatz

On May 4, 2018, Toronto record label UpTop Movement uploaded a video which would become one of the most celebrated Canadian indie hip-hop releases of recent times.

Not only did the King Bee-directed “Late Nights” do big numbers for Northside Jane rappers Houdini and Burna Bandz on YouTube—currently sitting at over 10.2 million views—but it’s also one of the pair’s most successful songs on digital streaming platforms, with over 7.4 million streams to date on just Spotify alone.

While “Late Nights” was almost immediately hailed a Toronto street classic—and gave a significant boost to the stock of up-and-comers Houdini and Burna Bandz—one person that has deserved more praise for the release is the song’s producer, Hirst Beatz, hailing from Hamilton, Ontario. Due in part to an innocent omission of Hirst’s credit on the track on the initial YouTube upload, he received less recognition than you might expect from such a big drop, but now people are finally catching on.

It helps that his manager is the outspoken Bishop Brigante, an accomplished artist, entrepreneur and public figure who is easily one of the most recognizable faces in the Toronto scene. Bishop only recently started working with the young star, but they’re already gearing up for what is expected to be a productive year ahead.

“It’s been a very long time since I’ve discovered such a raw talent that’s eager and hungry to get his work out to the world,” explained Brigante during a recent interview. “We’ve hit the ground running for 2022.”

As Hirst begins to increase his international workload—including building with artists in Atlanta and other big markets—he’s starting to really find his groove, and is focusing on building his brand one major placement at a time.

We recently sat down with Hirst to bring you our first main feature of 2022. The discussion included some background on how “Late Nights” was created, the tragic and sudden passing of Houdini, other collaborations with Houdini that remain unreleased, building in America, and other new endeavors planned for the year. You can check out the Q&A below.

Q&A: Hirst Beatz

HipHopCanada: Any big plans for the holiday season?

Hirst Beatz: Nothing crazy planned for this year. The most important thing for me is to spend time with my family.

HipHopCanada: How did you originally get into producing / making beats?

HB: To be honest, I was sitting in class during high school, and shout out my boy Jayden who showed me some beats he was cooking up on Logic. I knew right away I had try that shit out myself. I had a MacBook at the time and found a cracked version of Logic and started messing with that for a bit. I got addicted quick.

HipHopCanada: Which producers or styles do you draw the most inspiration from?

HB: When I started, I knew very little about the producers in the game. I remember my first inspiration being WondaGurl. I heard a beat she made for Travis Scott back in 2013 and I remade it. Fast forward, I am still mostly inspired by trap and R&B producers, Boi-1da, Murda Beatz, Wheezy, and Cardo Got Wings is going in too.

So many good producers out here that I have respect for. I find the more inspiration I can take from different producers, the more my beats evolve, and the more versatile my music becomes.

HipHopCanada: What’s your preferred equipment or software to work with when working your craft?

HB: FL Studio all the way. I have messed around with GarageBand, Logic, Reason, and Pro Tools, but its FL gang 4L.

HipHopCanada: What’s the Hamilton scene like?

HB: Hamilton scene? I haven’t worked with too many artists from Hamilton, most of them end up in Toronto. The only Hamilton rapper who made noise that I know of is OB O’Brien. I started with up-and-coming rappers from Toronto that we used to listen to all the time. When I first started sending my beats out, I was trying to get a placement with Pressa and then I discovered more rappers like Houdini and Burna Bandz.

HipHopCanada: More and more people are starting to realize that you were the producer behind the late great Houdini’s big single (with Burna Bandz), “Late Nights.” Can you speak on how that song came to be?

HB: I was going hard studying Audio Production and Engineering at Metal Works. I was on roads everyday to and from Sauga. Classes and exams would run late so I would sometimes rent an Airbnb in the city. I cooked the beat up after a late night exam when I got back to the spot. I was exhausted from studying and exam pressure and I had to be in class for 7 a.m. the next day. I chose making beats over sleep. That night, I got back to the Airbnb I stayed up till like 5 a.m. making beats and actually named that one “Late Nights.mp3.” I sent it to them that night.

HipHopCanada: What was your reaction to finding out about his passing?

HB: I was shocked, I didn’t even know he was back in the city, the last we spoke he was in L.A. I refused to believe it when I heard the news that he had been shot. No doubt, Houdini was next up, it’s so sad to see so many young artists from our city have their lives taken away. Houdini will always a Toronto legend in my eyes and I am grateful for having the chance to work with him. Rest In Peace and Long Live Houdini.

HipHopCanada: Do you have any other collaborations with Houdini in the vault?

HB: No doubt, there are some songs in the vault that weren’t released. I used to send beats to them on the regular, and I would often see their stories on Insta when they were at the studio and I would hear my beats in the background. They’d text me to send them stuff that they heard on my stories and my live streams. Houdini and Burna would tell me they were in the studio with Pressa so who really knows what could be in the vault.

HipHopCanada: We heard that a Canadian producer had connected with Atlanta rapper Peewee Longway, and that producer was you. Can you speak on the relationship with Peewee? Can we expect some work between you guys in the near future?

HB: I went down to Atlanta with nothing but hopes and dreams. At the time, I was heavily inspired by the Atlanta rap scene and I was working with local rappers like Yung Slatt, BStakk, and BSlime and decided to fly down and link them. I ended up in Peewee’s studio working with artists signed to MPA (his record label).

Unfortunately, I have no known collabs with Peewee but it was cool to meet him. As a producer from Toronto with little credentials in the American rap game I was proud of taking the chance to fly down on nothing but pure ambition and make those relations.

HipHopCanada: Who else have you been working with more recently?

HB: I’m still sending my beats to Toronto rappers like Da Crook, Smiley, and the guys from Northside Jane. I recently linked up with Smiley at one of his shows in Hamilton a few weeks ago, and I spoke to his manager and have been sending him beats. My manager, Bishop Brigante, and I have also been working and he’s been sending out some packs to some heavyweights.

So, I’m looking forward to landing something that I can speak about. I’ll def be connecting back with HHC when we get the first placement.

HipHopCanada: How did you connect with Bishop? How will you guys be working together?

HB: Almost as if it was meant to happen, I have been looking for a manager for a while now and linked with Bishop through a family friend. Bishop has been in the industry for decades and has seen it all. He’s not easily impressed so it took some time to get a meeting with him.

Once we linked and I had the chance to show him my music, we vibed and he even started freestyling on some of my beats. I knew from there based on his experience and his connections in the industry that he was the guy. Bishop and I have plans to get my music in the right hands and take my career to the next level.

HipHopCanada: Which projects or singles from Canadian artists were you feeling the most in 2021?

HB: It goes without saying that Drake always comes through with the heat. I’m also feeling Duvy, Da Crook, Smiley, Northside Benji, Burna.

Honestly, too much talent in the city to name them all.

HipHopCanada: Which projects or singles are you looking forward to the most? Canadian or otherwise?

HB: I’m always looking forward to any artist from the city to drop some fire. Whenever somebody drops, it’s just another step in the right path for the city to thrive. I’m really excited to get my own placements with some of the greats out here, so that’s where my focus is at right now.

HipHopCanada: What do you have in store for 2022?

HB: That’s a great question. Taking my career to the next level is my only focus for 2022 and it is my year to start getting more recognition as a producer. My goal for 2022 is just to get more plaques and more cheques.

HipHopCanada: COVID-19 restrictions aside, how are you ringing in the New Year?

HB: Most importantly, looking forwarding to starting out the New Year strong. I did have plans to go south this year, but since COVID that won’t happen. I may just go to Toronto or Montréal with the crew. Shout out @BishopBrigante, shout out fam, shout out all my brothers and the people who support me. It’s only up from here. 2022 we up.

You can follow @HirstBeatz on Instagram.