Before I begin let me say two things: first, I think DJing takes an immense amount of dexterity, reflex and an intangible sense of creating natural, yet unique, segues between records. Second, I think Just Blaze is an amazing producer and an amazing DJ. In fact, with regards to the second point, Blaze’s collision of buzzing synths and manipulated soul samples were the primary reason for scoping Just Blaze’s DJ set at Oakland’s New Parrish. His time spent as Roc-A-Fella’s unofficial in-house producer paved the way for other superstar producers, like Kanye West and Pharrell, whose soundscapes would often intercept the spotlight from their lyrical counterparts. Just Blaze is an awesome producer. Bangers like Jay-Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” and Dipset’s brilliantly subversive “Built This City” were often the panache highlights on albums. The boasts of seemingly infinite wealth from the rappers on Roc-A-Fella’s roster, needed to be housed in belletristic and ornamental beats. Just Blaze was the master architect behind these structures.
Also feeding the enigma I was paying to see was the fact that Blaze used to wear a diamond-encrusted Playstation controller. He also took the nickname Megatron (the Decepticons’ nefarious leader) long before the Detroit Lions star wideout. Finally, JB often gloated about his massive sneaker-collections’ balance between quality and quantity.
Along with being aesthetically pleasing, Just Blaze producing a track was essentially integrating a “brand” into the song. Blaze’s ethos is one that philosophically suggests that you can spend Friday night playing Street Fighter, watching ‘80s-babies cartoons and sucking down junk food. Then, come Saturday, you can rub elbows with exotic-models, ethnicities elusive, while wearing colorful sneakers (because loafers are for squares). Of course this brand is suggesting a lifestyle which is essentially bullshit and unobtainable but it’s fun to hypothesize, and, frankly, that’s always been the beauty of rap music (or hair metal for that matter). These hypothetical ideas were really what I wanted to be conveyed through Blaze’s 1s & 2s: Transforming robots, video games, fast-paced, aggressive, geeky rap music.