“He Took Taboo and Made Art Out of It”: Questlove Talks Just Blaze’s Sampling Prowess

Torry Threadcraft Torry Threadcraft is a writer who covers music, sports, and…

In an exclusive NPR feature, Just Blaze revealed some of his most notable samples.

Questlove and Just Blaze have produced dozens upon dozens of classic records. The two would make any knowledgeable hip-hop fan’s top five lists. In a new series for NPR, the two discussed the art behind the latter’s best beats.

The series will feature five different hip-hop producers and five writers. The producers explain their process in a video. Then, the writers pick an element that inspires them and spin it in a new direction. In the video above, Just walks through the inspiration behind Jay-Z’s “Hovi Baby” and “Show Me What You Got,” in addition to Beyonce’s “Freedom.” Subsequently, Questlove describes the two’s friendly rivalry.

READ: Unreleased Jay-Z Verse on Just Blaze-Produced Nas Track “The Scientist” Surfaces Online

“Everyone knows the “glasses on your forehead” moment, right?” Quest ponders. “It’s a staple in comic strips — you scour the earth for something only to discover that it’s been in the most obvious location the entire time,”

For Questlove, hearing Just’s beat for “Hovi Baby” gave him that moment. Just sampled the opening music from TLC’s “Diggin On You” video for the track. Quest had heard the music many times, but never thought to sample it.

WATCH: Questlove Spins Four Hours of Stevie Wonder Classics and Rarities

“When I asked [Just] where the music had come from, his answer was so simple and matter-of-fact,” Quest wrote. “Oh, that? That was the ‘Diggin’ on You’ video intro. You know. The helicopter part?” There was almost a shrug in his voice. I was seething. Why didn’t we think of that?”

In the original post, Quest describes the beat in further detail. His account is truly a testament to the frustrating genius of a peer. However, Quest assures readers that it’s all love. “Here was Just practicing true hip-hop, meaning that he took the taboo and made art out of it.”

 

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