Last week, Just Blaze celebrated the official launch of Stadiumred, his new studio in Harlem. After spending over a decade producing classics for everyone from Jay-Z to Freeway to T.I. at Baseline Studios, the man born Justin Smith just had to move on. He officially closed down Baseline last January and moved his base of operations to Stadiumred. We chopped it up with Just about his favorite memories from the Baseline days and even got him to spill the beans on producing his latest banger, Eminem's collaboration with Lil Wayne, "No Love." So please, no more handclaps...Juuuust Blaze!
As Told to Insanul "Incilin" Ahmed
On his favorite Baseline memory...
"It's all like one big 12-year blur. But one of the best ones was the day I walked in there. I used to work in a studio called The Cutting Room. They were trying to get me to go to this new studio called Baseline but I didn't want to go. When I finally went, there was this good energy from the first moment I walked in. I used to be in a band that disbanded four years before that. [The band was called] AF The King and I was the DJ. And when I walked into Baseline, I realized I was in my band's old rehearsal space. We used to have a punch-in code on the door, I'm like, 'Yo why do I know the code to this building? I never been here before.' The code was 3933. It took me a day to realize that I was in my band's old rehearsal space.
"It was kind of bugged being in there and realizing this is a place I already spent a lot of time in during a previous portion of my life. Then I met Jay and we knocked out 'Stick To The Script' and 'Streets Is Talking' in one day. It was kind of like my introduction to the super-big leagues.
"One of my other fondest memories is the day we closed it. It was a huge weight off of my shoulders. Don't get me wrong, it was 12 years of history there and it was great. But it got to a point where it needed to be changed for a number of reasons. I wasn't sure how I was going to get out of it. I wasn't sure if I was going to sell it. There were offers to buy. I didn't really want to sell it but I could have sold it.
"When I bought it, part of the reason I had the opportunity to have it was because I was a part of the history of the place. It was like, 'We know you'll respect it and take care of it.' And I spent so many years there, half of the stuff in there was mine already. The offers that I had from people who wanted to take it over, I didn't get that same sense of them respecting the legacy. Being I had made that decision, I was nervous about how it was all going to play out in the end. We figured out the terms maybe the night before I did the closing ceremony at Baseline. So I would bookend it that way, the first time I was there and the last time it was up and running. It was a nice way to go in and great way to get out. Everything else inâ€”between was just a lot of good times in history."
On making Eminem's "No Love"...
"It was something that we had been talking about since his second album. I been cool with Riggs Morales [A&R from Shady] and Paul Rosenberg [Eminem's manger]. Before Riggs was even around, there was a guy DJ Mormille [A&R at Interscope] and he was trying to get me to work with them. But the schedules never lined up and the timing was never right. It was a good thing it happened when it did because it made an impact. It was the first time Em stepped outside of his lane. I was the first outside producer he ever worked with. And the good things that came out of working with me opened him up to working with other producers. I'm glad it happened when it did.
"[The sample] was kind of random. I like to take unconventional source material and just make it into something you can actually rock to. I came up with the beat but I didn't take it seriously. I kind of just did a quick skeleton and it sat for a while. There was another record that me and Em were working on. We actually had a sample clearance issue with it so we had to dead it. I can't get into what it sampled. The day we got the confirmation that we absolutely couldn't use it, we were all sitting in the studio like, 'Where do we go now?' It was a down mood because it would have been a really good record, something that was very personal to him. A lot of his records are personal, but this one was very personal. We got the news we couldn't do it, and we didn't know what to do after that.
"I remembered that I had the idea with the Haddaway sample in my computer, so I threw on the headphones, touched it up, and played it for him. At first, he didn't get it 100 percent. I think he wasn't sure what I was going for because it's such a comic sample. But once I broke down the idea to him, another angle: 'I don't need you no more, don't want to see you no more, you get no love.' Then it clicked. He did his vocals two days later and was like, 'Yo I want to get Wayne on it.' I jumped on a plane and went down to Miami. I kicked it with Wayne about the record, he did his vocals in one night. Came back up to New York, I added more to the hook. And that was it."