Just Blaze at Baseline in 2005. Photo By Bradley Carbone for Complex Magazine
Tonight marks the closing of Baseline Studios, one of NYC's last classic hip-hop recording spots. Known as the musical home of Roc-A-Fella Records from 2000 to 2003, it was originally run by Jay-Z's right hand man Juan Perez before he sold it to Just Blaze, who has run it for the last 6 years. The studio has a million and one stories (as Just recollects in a recent video interview with LTD), but more than anything, the Baseline will be remembered for the hundreds of hits that were recorded there, from Jay-Z anthems to Just Blaze passion projects. Complex compiled 10 of our all-time favorite Baseline tracks for your listening pleasure...
Jay-Z f/ Beanie Sigel "Stick 2 Da Script" (2000)
Album: Dynasty: Roc La Familia
• Before Just Blaze bought the keys to Baseline in 2003, Jay-Z and Juan Perez, owned the studio. According to Just, this Dynasty sleeper track was the first song he and Hov recorded together at Baseline. It set the tone for all the forthcoming classics that were laid down in the Roc's recording home.
Jay-Z "U Don't Know" (2001)
• Jigga recorded most of Blueprint at Baseline, but this was undoubtedly one of the standouts. From the blaring horn bursts to the wailing Bobby Bird sample, this went down as not only one the best Just Blaze productions, but as one of the most recited, revered and remixed Hov tracks of all time.
Cam'ron "Oh Boy" (2002)
Album: Come Home With Me
• Hov wasn't the only one cooking up at Baseline. When Cam was the newest member of the Roc-A-Fella team, Just Blaze blessed the Harlemite with a bunch of soundtracks, including this chopped soul classic that Big Homie supposedly passed on.
Scarface f/ Jay-Z & Beanie Sigel "Guess Who's Back" (2002)
Album: The Fix
• Kanye West may have produced this posse cut for Scarface's best album, but when you want the Roc's top gunners to bless your track, there's only one place to record it: Baseline. As 'Ye said on "Big Brother," "Fresh off the plane, Im off to Baseline / Nothin' handed out, I'm 'bout to take mine."
Freeway f/ Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel "What We Do" (2003)
Album: Philadelphia Freeway
• This shit for my kids! One of the most passionate cuts to come out of Baseline gave Freeway's debut album a crazy buzz and gave fans one of the memorable Roc posse cuts. We're sure Memph Bleek still feels someway about not being included on this classic.
Jay-Z "Public Service Announcement" (2003)
Album: The Black Album
• With his "retirement" on the horizon, Jay and Juan sold the studio to Just Blaze in 2003, but not before recording this last-minute addition to The Black Album that still stands out as one of Hov's best.
Cam'ron "I Really Mean It" (2003)
Album: Diplomatic Immunity Vol. 1
• After taking over the Roc, Cam put his crew on and recorded their amazing double-disc debut at various studios around NYC, primarily with the Heatmakerz. But for a few key joints, including this fan favorite, the Taliban hit Baseline hard.
Usher "Throwback" (2004)
• Just blessed the ATLien with this soulful banger for his classic album Confessions, proving that Baseline could bang out much more than just hip-hop.
The Game "Church For Thugs" (2005)
Album: The Documentary
• It was all about the West Coast resurrection when The Documentary dropped, but Game had to travel to NYC to put the finishing touches on his debut. The two tracks he recorded with Just at Baseline—especially this high-energy joint—showed his versatility and perfectly rounded out the album.
Jay Electronica "Exhibit C" (2009)
• In what will surely go down in history as one of Baseline's last classic joints, the Megatron Don blessed the mysterious New Orleans rapper with this undeniable neck-snapper. Hopefully Jay won't be back sleeping on Meserole Ave when the studio closes
BONUS: The White Rapper Show Records "Smoke In The Club"
• Not exactly a "classic song," but definitely a classic TV moment. John Brown and company hit Baseline to record a strip club anthem with Just and engineer Ryan West.