It’s only too often we do these type of lists for the fallen soldiers of hip-hop, so we’ve decided to give someone some roses while he can still smell them.
Talking to a friend last weekend about top producers he made sure to underscore that Just Blaze is, in fact, a mothaf****ing legend. There always are these top producers in rap who have a certain sound that hits the charts and every rapper subsequently needs to have. In a few years or sooner, the market becomes saturated as everybody and their grandma spits to the same style of beats, or cheap knockoffs if they can’t afford the actual star beat creator du jour. In short, the sound get’s tiresome and the producer’s status dwindles.
For example, how many times have you listened to that last N*E*R*D album exactly?
With Just Blaze however, this seems not to be the case. He started gaining prominence around the turn of the century delivering beats for Busta and Big Pun, and really hit it big when the ROC became enamored with his sound during their prime. Landing several productions on Jay’s unarguable classic ‘The Blueprint‘ ensured he would be engraved in hip-hop history but the dude has been on top of the game for close to ten years now. Yes, Ten. Friggin’. Years.
Honestly, how many producers can claim the same kind of longevity? Even legends (and I don’t toss that word around lightly) like Premier and Pete Rock who came up in the early 90s, weren’t making a whole lot of hits over a decade later. That’s no detriment to those guys, they still produce quality bangers, but aside from a couple Christina Aguilera tracks a few years ago, their sound is no longer in demand by the general public. Justin Smith however, shows no signs of letting up. But when top 5 lists of producers are mentioned he far too often gets overlooked. So in order to rectify that and solidify the man’s well-deserved status, TRU presents the cream of a decade of Just Blaze bangers. Enjoy!
Freeway & Beanie Sigel – Roc The Mic
An iconic track from back when it was all good (way more than a week ago), and one of the first big hit records Just delivered the beat for.
Cam’ron Ft. Juelz Santana – Oh Boy
Still one of the biggest and most fun (No Rebecca Black) hits Mr. Giles had. Who could’ve known back then that bringing the Diplomats into the fold would lead inro one of the first fissures in the ROC?
Jay-Z – You Don’t Know
One of the hardest, most bombastic beats EVER. If this doesn’t get you hyped you are officially diagnosed comatose. The only way they could’ve upped the ante was by having MOP spit on it. So they did.
Erick Sermon Ft. Redman – React
Erick Sermon is no starnger to producing a banger himself, just take a peek at his impressive discography as both the half of one of the best rap duo’s of all time and a producer for his Def Squad brethren. But when he needed a hit for a solo comeback who did he turn too? Word is Just even had this beat laying around for a couple years before he dusted it off for the public to enjoy.
Joe Budden – Pump It Up
Joe Budden’s career starter. Years later he may have turned his back on many of the people from his Def Jam days, especially a certain President Carter, but he never forgot the man behind his big hit single. Just Blaze even acted as a referee in squashing the beef between Budden and Saigon.
Jay-Z – December 4th
One of the most personal tracks Jay recorded could only be done with a producer that he has maximum chemistry with. You don’t let your momma talk over some random yahoo’s beat.
Keith Murray Ft. Erick Sermon & Redman – Yeah, Yeah, You Know It
Another Def Jam cut. Yes, Keith Murray was on Def Jam once. Nobody remembers and he got thrown off before the album was even released but at least they bothered to put it in stores. Would’ve been a shame if they left this Def Squad banger to gather dust.
MED – Get Back
A slew of commercial hits on rap’s biggest labels doesn’t mean Just turns his nose up to a good indie artist, as evidenced by this single from MED’s first solo album on Cali’s Stones Throw label.
Jay Electronica – Exhibit A/Exhibit C
Jay Electronica & Just Blaze is a golden combo, and Jay Elec made his most iconic two records (so far) with Just Blaze at the helm. Now signed to Jay-Z’s ROC Nation, the stars seem properly aligned for Jay & Just to recreate that magic.
Fabolous – Breathe
Genuine shock was my honest response when I first heard this song. It was at a friend’s house, watching MTV (back when they still broadcasted music ocassionally). We turned to each other and simultaneously murmured something like “It’s a Fabolous… It’s not even wack… WTF… It’s actually… really dope!” A banger of the highest order still.