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BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time: Just Blaze

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#12 – Just Blaze

By AMIR SAID (SA’ID)

Bink Controversy and the Growth of the Just Blaze Style and Sound

To be fair to Bink, I’m convinced that Just Blaze did indeed borrow a couple of key style and sound elements from him. Does this mean that Just Blaze bit Bink’s whole style and sound and made it his own? I’ve never been willing to quite go that far. (Study their work side by side, you won’t go that far either). And to be fair to Just Blaze, everybody borrows! Hip hop culture was, in part, built off of borrowing and battling. When Bink, Just Blaze, and Kanye were all working on Jay-Z’s early 2000s projects, first The Dynasty: Roc La Familia and then The Blueprint, there’s no doubt that they were battling it out. Inevitably, within that environment some amount of borrowing is going to occur, as each music maker hears the other’s work. But it’s what you do after you borrow that matters most. So yes, Just Blaze borrowed from Bink, perhaps heavily or not too much at all depending on your vantage point.

But what Just Blaze borrowed didn’t serve as the engine for the Just Blaze style and sound going forward. Instead, the borrowed Bink elements were incorporated together with Just’s existing elements and made into something new. By the time Dynasty album was released, Just’s style already prominently featured shakers, loud-sounding hi-hats, and other percussion. So a drum style and sound was already developing. However, what does seem to be missing in Just Blaze’s beats (at least commercially released placements) up until this point is a big use of samples.

Thus, the Dynasty serves as a point at which Just started to progressively move into samples. (Whether this was something he’d already been wanting to do or not, I don’t know. We can only study the released works of any artists.) But on joints like “The Streets is Talking,” the heavy soul sample style and sound is not yet present with Just Blaze, while it is present with Bink. Still, a comparison between “The Streets is Talking” and “1-900-Hustler” (beat by Bink) yields an important observation: Just Blaze’s drums were already not too terribly far off from Binks. The thing to note though is that Bink’s sound at this point was already defined. Just was still adding to his overall style and sound at this point. And over the next 10 years, he’d add even more, further growing his style and sound.

After Dynasty, Just Blaze continued to develop his style and sound, but you could still hear elements that you already heard in his music. Listen to “Beanie (Mack Bitch)” (2001) and you’ll notice that key features of Just’s style and sound, pre-2000, are still present. By the fall of 2001, when Jay-Z’s The Blueprint was released, Just had already been moving away from the non-samples featured style, the style and sound that typified his early work with Busta Rhymes. At this point, he was experimenting more and more with sampling.

As samples figured more heavily into Just Blaze’s new style and sound, you could hear percussion embellishments in his beats being tamed, while at the same time he was experimenting with new drum frameworks (sometimes simple ones, sometimes more complex snare syncopation), as well as sweep effects. By the late 2000s, Just Blaze’s style and sound had crystalized into what we commonly think of in a Just Blaze track.

Just Blaze Beats (Songs) Recommended for Study:

SPECIAL NOTE:

“What We Do” – Freeway feat. Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel beat by Just Blaze

“December 4th” – Jay-Z beat by Just Blaze

“Girls, Girls, Girls” – Jay-Z beat by Just Blaze

“Oh Boy” – Cam’Ron feat. Juelz Santana

“Public Service Announcement” – Jay-Z beat by Just Blaze

“Beanie (Mack Bitch) – Beanie Sigel beat by Just Blaze

“Here We Go Again” – Busta Rhymes feat. Flipmode Squad beat by Just Blaze

“Can’t Let You Go” – Fabolous feat. Lil’ Mo and Mike Shorey beat by Just Blaze

“Ima Bang” – DMX beat by Just Blaze

“Roc the Mic” – State Party (Freeway and Beanie Segal) beat by Just Blaze

“The R.O.C.” Jay-Z feat. Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek beat by Just Blaze

“Mom Praying” – Beanie Sigel feat. Scarface

“U Don’t Know” – Jay-Z beat by Just Blaze

“Stick to the Script” – Jay-Z beat by Just Blaze

“So You’ll Understand” – Jay-Z beat by Just Blaze

“Get Down” – Beanie Sigel beat by Just Blaze

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About Author

Amir Said (aka Sa’id) is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BeatTips. A writer, publisher, and beatmaker/rapper from New York, Said is the author of a number of books, including ‘The BeatTips Manual,’ ‘The Art of Sampling,’ ‘Ghetto Brother,’ and ‘The Truth About New York.’ He is also a recording artist with a number of music projects, including his latest album 'The Best of Times.' Follow him on Twitter at: @amirsaid and @BeatTipsManual

  • Lamont Holden

    I’d heard some Bink and heard of Bink but the minute you started talking about Bink I kept thinking Just Blaze. He, the Neptunes and Kanye are in a three way tie for my all time favorites.