Thursday, March 20, 2008
Porducer of the Week - Just Blaze
Justin began producing for well known musicians in the late 1990s. This production would earn him a production spot on Jay-Z's The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. His production on this album, along with the work of Kanye West earned them both jobs as in-house producers at Roc-A-Fella Records. His production work earned him the name Just Blaze, which would become his production name. Blaze then went on to produce for many of the acts signed to the Roc-A-Fella roster. In 2002, Just Blaze became a household name for the production of Cam'ron's summer smash "Oh Boy." Blaze went on to produce for Snoop Dogg, Shawnna, Usher, Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, Memphis Bleek, Cam'ron, Beanie Sigel, The Game, DMX, T.I., Fat Joe, Juelz Santana, Rhymefest, Ghostface Killah, Jin, Fabolous, Joe Budden, MF DOOM, Kool G Rap, Rah Digga, Teriyaki Boyz, and Edison Chen.
He also recorded several tracks for the popular video games Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 and NBA Street Vol. 2 and is a playable character in the game as well. A large part of Just Blaze's technique consists of altering the speed of samples, as well as adding in his own drum beat. In this way, he draws some of his influence from Wu-Tang Clan producer RZA, who has utilized sped-up soul samples in several of the group's beats. Just Blaze has used this technique with songs like "December 4th" from Jay-Z's The Black Album (which uses a sped-up sample of "That's How Long" by The Chi-Lites) and "Touch the Sky" from Kanye West's Late Registration (which uses a slowed-down sample of Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up.") However, he doesn't always do this; on "Public Service Announcement (Interlude)" from The Black Album and Foxy Brown's "Foxy Lady", for instance, the speed of the sample used is left unchanged. His work also often features the trademark phrase "No more handclaps" and a distinctive pronunciation of his name, with the 'a' in 'Blaze' lengthened and rising.
After the retirement of Jay-Z in 2004, Just Blaze decided to create his own label. Initially, he went to Roc-A-Fella with the idea, but they could not afford to grant a vanity label at the time, due to the Dame Dash split. Just then went to parent company Def Jam Recordings, who was not willing to take such a big risk on a pet label. Finally, Atlantic Records agreed to give him a label to be 50% owned by them. He would name the label Fort Knocks Entertainment.