Album: The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse
Label: Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam
Just Blaze: “That was a completely different beat until we mixed it. For whatever reason, they didn't want to attempt to clear the original. I don't think there was an issue where they couldn't clear the sample, but it was too much of a process to get the sample cleared.
“Jay kept recording, and it was getting close to the date where we had to start turning stuff in. He was adamant about that making the album, because he wanted the story element on the album. He didn't really have a lot of those, so I reproduced the record in one night.
“That was all keys and live instrumentation. Sometimes you have a record on a sample, and you try to rework it on a rush job, and it doesn't turn out too well. I brought in one of the musicians to play on it, and it was one of those instances where it came out better than the original.
“We were doing a lot of creative stuff at that time. I did the scratches on 'It Was All A Dream' that Kanye did. On that record, those scratches are still going but the pitch is constantly dropping. A lot of DJ's come up to me and ask, 'How did you do that?' We did a lot of crazy tricks at that time.
“We did a lot of vocal tricks at that time using different software, and I think I printed his raw vocals on a CD. I used the CDJ to do the stutter and bring the pitch down. That's how I got his voice to do that. That's one of my personal favorites on there, just because of the instrumentation on there and the story was dope.
“I've always had a certain amount of that in my work, but around that time I learned to incorporate more and make it more apparent. It was a lot more subtle before that. There were still beat keys, there'd be bass and things like that, but my ear was still in training.
“It was after The Blueprint when I started taking my sound into my own hands. I had more time to practice, because Pro Tools had become more widely available. I was on Pro Tools since the beginning, but the plug-ins had started to become better. Things had started to become cheaper.
“It wasn't until 2001 or 2002 that you could have a Pro Tools rig in your house without it costing it $40,000 and taking up a corner of your apartment. My first Pro Tools rig took up a quarter of my apartment.
“We were at the point then, where we had laptops and portable hard-drives that were actually capable of keeping up. So when my ear was developing, I was able to practice more and be more on my own. I didn't have to rely on an engineer to translate my vision of the record.”