Very much credited for helping craft the revered Roc-a-Fella sound and giving the affiliated artists (JAY Z, Cam’Ron, etc) some of their biggest hits, it’s only natural Just Blaze kinda fell back from Hip Hop production after operating at such a high level for years. But that doesn’t mean Justin Smith wasn’t making music, which is why a list like this is necessary to highlight.
This list compiles Just Blaze-produced instrumentals from 2010 forward. That said, it should be noted that some of his most popular beats for hit songs didn’t make the cutoff, including T.I.‘s “Live Your Life” and Maino‘s “All The Above.”
With the success of “Freedom” off Beyoncé‘s Lemonade album, check out 10 of the best Just Blaze beats released 2010 and on.
#10. Mac Miller – “All Around The World”
PROJECT: Best Day Ever [mixtape]
Mac Miller tapped Just Blaze for a beat on his fifth mixtape, which is the same one that has the Donald Trump song. It was a nice touch for Larry Fisherman to do the tag at the beginning of his own song.
#9. Joe Budden – “Stuck In The Moment”
PROJECT: Mood Muzik 4: A Turn 4 The Worst [mixtape]
There are plenty of stories about how specific beats are intended for one artist but end up being used by another. Usually in those occurrences, the parties involved are looped in (not so much with the Bobby Shmurda/Lloyd Banks thing) and made aware of the change. In the case of “Stuck In The Moment” by Joe Budden, he got a Just Blaze beat (his first since “Pump It Up”) without knowing it. During an MTV news interview, Budden told a story of getting a beat from producer Emile and releasing a song over it without his permission under the premise that his boy would be OK with it. What Joe didn’t realize is that Just Blaze was the track’s producer and the story goes that this fact was never mentioned to him. This wouldn’t have been too big of a deal if just proper credit was the only thing to rectify, but with the Mood Muzik series also being sold at retail, this created an issue for Just Blaze (who knew nothing of the recording).
#8. Scoe – “The Crown”
PROJECT: Tha Influence [album]
Sampling 1975’s “Feeling Tall” by the Crown Heights Affair, Just Blaze re-purposed the popular song for the West Coast rapper Scoe (who used to go by Roscoe). If anyone asks for a track to showcase the signature Just Blaze style, this would be a great representation.
#7. Wale – “88”
PROJECT: The Gifted [album]
Having a full band sound on a Wale track makes as much sense as Just Blaze producing a track with deep sneaker references. The “88” song title comes in recognition to the Air Jordan III, which released in 1988 and made for an ill moment around The Gifted release time where Folarin went to Flight Club in NY and bought every pair of the white Air Jordan III ’88’ there and customized them with personalized branding. Third album / third MJ sneaker; made sense.
#6. Kendrick Lamar (f. Dr Dre) – “Compton”
PROJECT: good kid, m.A.A.d city [album]
Knowing that Just Blaze did this beat, the beginning sounds almost like it’s missing something without the tag at the top as per usual, but Kendrick gives a whole name shout-out at the end with the popular audio watermark right before the outro keys play.
#5. Ludacris – “This Has Been My World”
PROJECT: Ludaversal [album]
It is very fitting that one of the most underrated rappers got low-key one of the best Hip Hop compositions (though a lot of it is drowned out at the end by a speech). This feels straight off the Miami beaches thanks to the Michael Jackson sample, this beat is one of the most recent Just Blaze rap productions at the time of posting as he was freshly off an international EDM tour. Luda spit some real shit on the first few bars in reference to the paradox of how you get rich and end up not having to pay for things.
#4. Tony Touch (f. Royce da 5’9, Crooked I, Joell Ortiz) – “Slaughter Session”
PROJECT: The Piece Maker 3: Return of the 50 MCs [album]
The guitars on this beat are so staccato it’s like they were fired out of an automatic weapon. It is very curious how a song called “Slaughter Session” can feature all of Slaughter House without Joe Budden. In May 2013, Jus went on to be officially named the Exclusive Producer on the group’s third album, Glass House, however it has yet to be released. When asked about the album’s delays on Snoop Dogg‘s GGN webshow last November, Just Blaze gave the update of being in “the final stages” of the project and was in the process of mixing, which implies that it is finished.
#3. Rick Ross – “I Love My Bitches”
PROJECT: n/a [single]
A song many are unfamiliar with, “I Love My Bitches” features the abundant layering that Just Blaze has come to be known for. Good enough to be a lead single for an album, it is likely that the chorus would have held the track back. Originally thought to be part of the God Forgives, I Don’t album, this ended up not on any specific project to the delight of mixtape DJs everywhere who were more than happy to include the track on their regional mixtapes.
#2. Drake (f. Rick Ross) – “Lord Knows”
PROJECT: Take Care [album]
For his second album, Drake reached out to Just Blaze for the “Lord Knows” beat. One of the five songs on the album that runs longer than five minutes, the track features Drizzy and Rick Ross going over what many assume is a gospel sample when in actuality this was recorded live with a choir that Jus personally oversaw the session for (there is a video online).
#1. Jadakiss (f. Styles P) – “Synergy”
PROJECT: Top 5 Dead Or Alive [album]
Classic strings that feel futuristic, it was good to have a song that sounded like Jadakiss on an album where a good amount of songs traditionally do not. Just Blaze manages to translate a grandioso beat with loops as if from the early-2000s big-chain era for Kiss and Styles to go back-and-forth on this track from Top 5 Dead Or Alive.