[Interview] Just Blaze talks “Higher,” praise from Big Daddy Kane, and meeting Jay-Z

Interview by: Martin Bauman

By now, Just Blaze really needs no introduction. Producer of Jay Electronica’s “Exhibit C”, Kendrick Lamar’s “Compton”, Drake’s “Lord Knows”, Saigon’s “C’mon Baby”, Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got”, “Public Service Announcement”, “Song Cry”, and “Girls, Girls, Girls”, Kanye West’s “Touch The Sky”, Memphis Bleek’s “Dear Summer”, Joe Budden’s “Pump It Up”, The Diplomats’ “I Really Mean It”, Erick Sermon’s “React”, Talib Kweli’s “Never Been In Love”, and Cam’ron’s “Oh Boy” (to name a few), Just Blaze has left his fingerprints all over hip-hop’s canon of the past fifteen years. When all is said and done, his body of work holds up against nearly any producer in hip-hop history. Despite his accomplishments, he continues to make music and explore new sounds, most recently collaborating with Baauer to create “Higher” – a trap-wave audio assault. The Come Up Show caught up with Just Blaze for a brief interview after his set with Baauer to talk about his latest single, praise he’s received from Big Daddy Kane, and meeting Jay-Z, among other things. Read the full interview below.

TCUS: Not long ago, Big Daddy Kane named you as one of his top five producers.

Just Blaze: That was crazy.

TCUS: What was your initial reaction to that?

Just Blaze: I had no clue. “Ain’t No Half Steppin” is one of my favourite songs of all time, so for him to even say that was amazing. I was floored, I was honoured, and I was humbled.

TCUS: At one point in your life, you had to sleep under the couch at the studio you were interning at. How did you get out of that situation?

Just Blaze: I sold a beat. I made $5000, [and] me and my ex-girlfriend moved to an apartment in downtown Manhattan – and I’ve been downtown ever since.

TCUS: For a long time, you were working out of Baseline studios. That ended about three years ago now. What memories stand out from your time there?

Just Blaze: Great ones… that I can’t talk about. There have been great memories. Baseline was the best of the best, and the worst of the worst, at the same time. When it was all said and done, I didn’t want to shut it down, but I had no choice. I mean, so much history was made in that place, so many memories made in that place. It was a great time of my life.

TCUS: How did you and Jay-Z first meet?

Just Blaze: Me and Jay first met through Gee Roberson, who is now the head of Geffen Records. [Jay] told me he was going to make me a star, and make me rich. I said, “alright, let’s do it,” and it happened.

TCUS: Being that we’re in Canada, it’s only fitting that I ask about a Canadian composer. What importance does Galt MacDermot have to you?

Just Blaze: Galt is a Canadian? I didn’t know that! Dude, “Space” alone… I heard a record yesterday that sampled “Space”. Galt MacDermot, he’s so timeless, and he’s so dope – one of the funkiest dudes you will ever lay ears on. Galt MacDermot… I have no words for him. Super dope.

TCUS: Now, your latest work with Baauer, “Higher”, is a completely different sound than the music that you established your career on. What inspired you to get into this sound?

Just Blaze: Nothing influenced me. To be honest, [Baauer] had the drums, I had the music, and we made it work. “Higher” was an experiment that ended up going further than any one of us had imagined. People ask me what my favourite track is, and that’s like asking me what my favourite child is. I don’t have any children, but…. “Higher” is super dope, and if you love it, come check out the tour.

TCUS: At this point in your career, what is there left for you to accomplish? What more do you want to accomplish?

Just Blaze: Nothing. I don’t want to accomplish anything, I’m just having fun with this. What did Jay use to call it? Jay used to say it was a victory lap. I’m just having fun.

TCUS: That’s a good way to put it. Well, that’s all from me, is there anything else that you wanted to share?

Just Blaze: Come to the show! Love y’all.

For our other interview with Just Blaze, read here.