New York City had no shortage of marquee hip-hop producers in the late ’80s and early ’90s, so perhaps it’s no surprise that Hitman Howie Tee a.k.a. Howard Thompson often gets overlooked when discussing the golden era’s key composers. Best known for creating stars like Chubb Rock and Special Ed, Howie was instrumental in paving the way for the new wave of hip-hop that took hold of NYC in the mid-to-late ’80s. Queens had Marley Marl, and Brooklyn had Howie Tee, the borough’s biggest name brand producer at this pivotal time.
After getting his first taste of the industry in 1983 as a DJ, keyboard player, and producer for electro rap group CD III, Howie stuck close to fellow Flatbush natives UTFO and Full Force. The crew were were suddenly thrust into the spotlight when “Roxanne, Roxanne” inspired the “answer record” meme of 1984, and Howie became the DJ sidekick/producer to Full Force’s new female rapper, The Real Roxanne.
Howie developed a fruitful relationship with Roxanne and UTFO’s label, a burgeoning independent called Select Records. Thanks to his work with Select throughout the late ’80s, including classics for his cousin Chubb Rock and Flatbush teen Special Ed, Howie ushered Brooklyn hip-hop out of the old school drum machine era and into the new world of multi-layered funk and jazz samples that would epitomize hip-hop’s golden era.
He realigned himself with Uptown Records in the early ’90s, where he achieved massive crossover success with R&B group Color Me Badd and signed another Flatbush teen, Little Shawn. His clout faded in the mid-’90s, but Howie’s indelible influence on hip-hop had already been made. Experience his underrated catalog with this compilation of 30 Howie Tee bangers…