Justin “Just Blaze” Smith has morphed into one of the premier producers of his era. After his humble start in the late 90s, Blaze catapulted to the front lines after producing smash hits for Jay-Z, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, Freeway, Kendrick Lamar and countless others. In a down period for the busy beat smith, FUSE caught up with the New Jersey native at Harlem’s Stadium Red Studios as he broke down the science behind his heavy record collection, how he got into his vinyl addiction, producing hits for his former Roc-A-Fella Records brethren and more.
The producer opens up with a funny tale about when he was a toddler how he cuffed a couple of records while shopping with his family. “When I was two, we were at K-Mart [and] I was in a stroller,” said Blaze. “We brought whatever we were gonna buy and left the store. All of a sudden, they look in my stroller and see two Village People records in the stroller. They went back in and paid for them and they looked again, and saw I had two more records!”
Just Blaze’s hot hands would eventually cool off after an older cousin would gift him with vinyl records in the late 80s and early 90s. “I had a cousin who was around for the early stages of Hip-Hop,” said Blaze. “He would by the 12-inches and when the album would come out, he would give me the 12-inches because it was old and he just wanted the album. That’s how my early record collection got started.”
Blaze shared the source material of some of his biggest songs, including Jay-Z’s “December 4th” record which sampled soul vocalists The Chi-Lites. He also shares some of his crate digging come ups such as grabbing some crates from his days at his alma mater, Rutgers University, to buying a collection from notable underground producer Shawn J. Period and working with late R&B songstress Aaliyah.
Check out the full interview with Just Blaze below:
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