The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse might not make the list when fans are listing off their favorite JAY-Z albums, but it was still a wildly successful project that spawned some cult classics including "Hovi Baby." The infectious beat captivated hip-hop. During a conversation with NPR and Questlove, producer Just Blaze explained how the instrumental sparked some envy from his fellow musicians.
Just Blaze stated that he and the Roots drummer are friends but Quest was upset at Blaze when he first heard the beat. "Funny thing about that record," Blaze said. "Questlove, we’re friends but he hates me because I remember, he hit me and was like, ‘Yo who played the drums on that?’ I’m like, ‘Dude, that’s me on my MP.’ That was a huge booster for me internally because one of the best hip-hop drummers ever is thinking that that record is a live drummer and it’s just me emulating that with my fingers."
Quest went on to say that he was drawn to the record by the drum pattern. Also, JAY-Z decided to play up the feel of live instrumentation by introducing his "band" during the song's introduction.
"Welcome to the JAY-Z extravaganza," Hov says. "I'd like to introduce my band right now, Just Blaze and the Blazettes. Right now I want you to give the drummer some. No ma, really, give the drummer some."
This combined with the sound of the song made Quest think that there was a real drummer was playing on the instrumental. As he recounted:
The sound was crisp, maybe a little tinny, but it seemed like it had real hands behind it. I called up Just Blaze and asked him whose hands. It turns out they were his, sort of, or at least his fingers, playing on a drum pad. I wasn’t amazed by the drumming in the sense that it was the work of a virtuoso, or that the timing was magnificent, or that it was so complex. There was a certain sense of imperfection that came through despite it having been made on a machine that made it somehow more perfect. Those same qualities were in J. Dilla’s work, and I try to put them in mine. It’s not that we’re not using technology. We are. But it’s governed by the desire to make technology reflect humanity.
As for the hate thing, Quest clarified, "The point I'm trying to get across is, if I tell Just, 'Ugh, I hate you man!!!' that only means I love that his work makes me work harder on my own. No technical talk necessary. Just love."
"Hovi Baby" and its instrumental have gone on to live in infamy, with several rappers keeping it alive by jumping on the beat.