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BlatantlyBlunt Interview: Just Blaze discusses what determines a classic record, his live shows, working with UK MCs and more!

In Interviews by Nick BlatantlyBlunt

Just Blaze has undoubtedly cemented himself within the elite of the hip hop beat makers. Having produced countless hip hop classics as a core part of the Roc a Fella success story, he is also responsible for some of the dopest NY/East coast hip hop productions of all time, with some major hits under his belt  behind the boards for Jay-Z, Fabolous, Game, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, TI, Beanie Sigel and Jay Electronica to name just a few!   

Nick BBlunt spoke to the New Jersey born producer ahead of his show in London alongside Statik Selektah, The Nextmen this Saturday 8th March 2013 at Scala in Kings Cross, London. [more info + ticket link]. 

Something I’ve always wondered, where did your production name come from? 

It was given to me when I released my first ever record, because I didn’t give them a name! They kept saying that the beat was “just blazing”, and as my real name is Justin they said “alright that’s the name i’m giving you”. The record ended up going gold so I thought I might as well keep the name!

You made a track in 2007 with Skepta, JME and Klashnekoff where the beat switched up half way through –  have there been any other genres of music where u  go from one type of beat to a different one?

The most recent example would be ‘Lord Knows’.. I wanted Rick Ross to have a dramatic entrance following Drake’s verse – I try and make my beats cinematic while still tailoring them to the artists’ style and from my understanding Klashnekoff does a more traditional style of hip hop to JME and Skepta so I wanted to attack the beat differently for him to vocal.

 

What can people expect from a Just Blaze live show?

Energy! I dont play one particular kind of music -it’s across the board and I come from an era of turntablism so you’ll definitely see some DJ Tricks in the  routine – whether it’s hip hop, house,  techno, dubstep, you can expect energy, a good time, and good vibes.

Fellow producer Statik Selektah is also billed to play on the night – have you two played together before?

I’ve known him for years ever since he moved to NY and say when he’s headlining I may jump on the turntable and we might have a scratch off! But this is the first time we have been billed together.

Which current artists or tunes are you feeling over here?

I’m really liking the ‘German Whip’ record I heard recently!

How long to put The Blueprint together with Jay, and did you have any inkling of the impact it would make?

We did the majority of the album over the stretch of a weekend – we knew it was good but what i tell people is that there are ultimately two determining factors on whether a record becomes a classic – the passage of time and the peoples’ reactions – there are a lot of great records that don’t stand the test of time so you need to see how you feel about the album in 5 or 10 years!

Another factor that affects the cultural impact of the record is the time period of when it’s released. At the time a lot of the music was very synthesized, with people releasing music with  no samples, whereas Blueprint contained a whole sound scape of samples! If it came out five  years before or after it may not have had the same impact.

How did the Baauer collab come about for Higher

Originally it was a promotional advert for the live shows we had planned together – and again it was also about the timing – I was not the first person to fuse trap and hip hop but that sound was really starting to take off and within three days we had 350,000 plays and that was before the Harlem Shake phase. With my recognition and history along with Baauer doing big things… and with Jay-Z on the record giving it a stamp of approval it added another layer of authenticity too – it was a recipe  for success that we never saw coming!

What are your thoughts on the current sound of hip hop, particularly New York?

I think hip hop is in a great place at the moment – the music has amalgamated as different regions of the country take what they learnt and built upon it – a lot of the great records these days have something for everybody.

In terms of NYC hip hop I think Action Bronson and Joey Bada$$ are carrying the torch at the moment – It’s the sound I grew up on but I’m not mad at it for mixing with other sounds – we’ve got do this to stay fresh – I’m all for that blending sounds together.

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You can catch Just Blaze at the Scala London on Sat. 8 March get your tickets here.

Words and editing: Nick Russell for BlatantlyBlunt 

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