During an entertaining interview alongside Alchemist, Just Blaze asks SB.TV’s Editor In Chief, Lily Mercer to choke him as he demonstrates the quart of blood technique hours before their showdown at Plan B. Read on to find out why Jay Z missed out on Pump It Up, the beat every producer wishes they made and their plans to get a Nando’s black card…
LM. You did a battle last year. For those that missed it, what can they expect?
JB. They can expect to have a good time, watch live music, lots of noise and lots of people. As far as what we do specifically, you know what it is; it’s two of the best to do it, rocking out. Other than that no details, come to the show. If you missed this one, come to the next one.
LM. Basically, you fucked up.
A. Yeah, you fucked up.
JB. Peace out.
LM. The battle is inspired by boxing, has there been any shit talking between you?
JB. Yeah, this guy doesn’t wash his socks.
A. I got a bone to pick with him, he fucked up so we’re gonna fly to London to settle our differences.
JB. It’s like Ali and Frazier, the Thrilla In Manila. We kickin’ in Brixton, fightin’ in Brighton and we gon’ do the war dance in France.
LM. Do you start in each corner?
JB. I was trying to get us some robes made. Tonight I got a girl coming through with numbered cards in each round. She’s just gonna have a G-string on, its gonna be good.
A. We’ll bring some boxing gloves too. We’re gonna give the two best fans the gloves and let them beat the shit out of each other.
LM. What kicked off the idea for the battle?
A. We both did an event one time and it was dope. We were like, ‘lets take this on the road. It’s the greatest show on earth’.
JB. The interesting thing is, the first event wasn’t planned. We were like, ‘lets do it’. It made it really heated between the people. I came prepared to play records and he came prepared to play beats. People would be like, ‘do you see the way the crowd went crazy when Just played all that Jay shit? He merked Al’. Then it was like, ‘nah fuck that Just is a cheater, Al played his beats. Just had to play Jay Z songs for people to fuck with him, his beats ain’t shit.’ It created an air of competition, even though there wasn’t any. The more I’m seeing people engaging like this, when he was like, ‘lets take this show on the road’, I’m like, ‘lets do it’. With mutual respect its all good. It’s not like we have beef or there’s gonna be drama after the show. It’s, ‘Lets go out have some fun, rock with the people. And I’ll be 100% honest with you, this show works better overseas than it does at home. Over here, in my experience people appreciate the entire art form more, in terms of production sampling and breaks. They care more about the survival of these things than they do at home. At home they’re focused on the arts, if you travel, if you go to Europe or even in Asia. I went to Asia, my first trip out there, I got off the plane in Osaka, I thought I was Michael Jackson. I got off the plane like “Justin Bwayzjeee” Like, ‘sign my hand’, ‘sign my girls tits’, ‘sign my shirt’ and people waiting for me, like god damn. Whereas if I get off the plane in New York, it’s like, ‘yeah your bags are over there’.
A. I like tea too.
JB. British tea is banging.
LM. Is there any competition in your relationship?
JB. There’s nothing to compete for. We were talking about this earlier and its like, I ain’t got nothing to prove, he ain’t got nothing to prove. We’ve both been at the top of our game and the top of our field for so many years.
LM. You also began your careers at a similar time.
JB. That’s what I’m saying. We’ve watched each other rise through the ranks and we always get together and chop it up. At the time that he was hooking up with Mobb Deep, me and Prodigy were real cool. And then because of that we came to find out that we live around the corner from each other, literally.
A. He always had cool snares. I thought his snares were really cool and I really bonded on that level of snares. Later our relationship developed to a high hat and then a kick.
LM. Were there ever any techniques you picked up off each other?
A. There was this one time when Just taught me the quart of blood technique.
JB. I can show you if you want.
A. When you do this technique, a quart of blood drops out of a person’s body.
LM. Come on then.
JB. It’s pretty crazy.
LM. What are you gonna do?
JB. Alright, choke me.
LM. I can’t choke Just Blaze!
JB. Choke me. This is dangerous.
[Just Blaze then grabbed my thumbs and twisted them away from me.]
JB. See, now I’m controlling you. You choke me, I grab your thumbs, push them outward, and then I have total control. Now I can kick you, take your arms, twist you around, slam you to the floor.
A. This is a similar technique quart of blood but you have an ice pick.
JB. I didn’t wanna draw blood.
A. You don’t wanna use a quart of blood right here, it’s crazy. He did it before on the 9th floor of Billy Ray Robinson.
JB. Yeah one day he seen me, I was at the zoo and these gorillas broke out of a cage and had me hemmed up. He remembered the quart of blood technique that I showed him and beat up the gorillas.
A. It ain’t cool being a jive turkey so close to Thanks Giving. You know what I’m saying?
JB. Real talk.
LM. New York’s crazy.
A. Man it’s wild.
JB. There’s gorillas walking the streets.
A. It’s like a jungle sometimes. It makes me wonder.
JB. How I keep from going under.
LM. You both sampled Al Kooper’s Love Theme.
JB. The fact that you even know what that is, is crazy.
A. Wikipedia, or google.
Nah, I knew that song before, My mum played it to me.
JB. Tell your moms I said wassup.
LM. So lets start some beef. Who did the better version?
JB. She’s like the Wendy Williams in training.
A. You need to be a little more fierce though. I don’t feel threatened yet.
JB. But it’s two different songs, mine was a sentimental record, trying to make you think about the original, his joint is the one that when it come on in the club, everybody’s like [dances].
A. Rap is an art, you can’t own no loops. It’s how you hook em up and the rhyme style troop. So don’t even think you could say someone bit.
JB. Off your weak beat come on.
A. You need to quit.
JB. I flip lines and kick rhymes.
A. That never sound like yours.
JB. There oughtta be laws against.
A. You yapping your jaws.
JB. Exactly, and that should be the law.
A. Word to Guru.
LM. If you hear a good beat that the other made, do you call them to say well done?
A. At my crib there are a lot of pigeons that live on my roof so what I do is, I make a message and put it on the ankle of my pigeon and my pigeons are the shit, they know where to go. The pigeon shows up, the message is on his ankle.
JB. The pigeon’s like ‘Braaaaaaack.” So I say, ‘tell him I say peace’. “Braaaaaaaack”
LM. What are your favourite tracks by each other?
A. Usually my favourites are the latest ones, whenever I hear something new.
JB. He just played me 10 crazy joints on the way over here.
A. The one you were playing last night by Beanie Sigel, I’ve been playing that a lot. And “money over bitches too” [Jay Z’s Stick To The Script]
JB. I was thinking about playing that last night, I think I’m gonna play it tonight. If I was to go through the whole Alchemist catalogue, I wouldn’t even say We Gonna Make It because that’s a given. Every producer wishes they made that. I would go, that IGT one, Get it Crank, it’s an obscure rap song from the late 90s. But there’s a lot, he’s got a lot of great records. Its like Lays potato chips; you can’t have a whole bag.
LM. I’m quite curious, as a producer, how do you decide who to give a beat to?
A. Are quite curious about that? What’s the difference between curious and quite curious?
LM. Nothing, that’s just me being unnecessarily flowery with my language.
A. You should be a writer.
LM. I am.
A. Oh, you are? That’s tight.
JB. Dope. It’s different because sometimes the artist is there with you and has just played you their album and you make a beat on the spot. But sometimes you’re creating and you hear something and think that will sound good with someone. And sometimes you intend for it to go to one person and it goes to someone completely different, you never really know. Making beats is like a muscle, you gotta keep exercising it, whether it’s for somebody or not. I believe songs always go where they’re supposed to go. A lot of the beats I’ve made for one person ended up with somebody else but that’s the one that should have got it. Memphis Bleek was the first person to hear Oh Boy and he was like, ‘no’. Which was crazy at the time but it worked out. I remember when I did Pump It Up, originally I did it for Beans [Beanie Sigel] and Freeway they didn’t like it and then I played it to Jay and he was like its cool, hold it for me, I’m gonna do this Pharrell record and then when Joe Budden did it, he was like, ‘Why you ain’t give me that?’ I said ‘I played it to you 5 times, you kept dissin’ me for Pharrell’.
LM. I heard that Girls, Girls, Girls was originally for Ghostface.
JB. I had Ghostface in mind when I made it but I didn’t have the direct connect with the god, Ghost at the time. When Jay walked in and said, ‘Anybody got any beats?’ I said check this out not realising that it was gonna end up being what it became. But again, everything goes where it’s supposed to go.
A. In my bathroom I have a dartboard with names in each circle so I just try and come up with a rapper sometimes doing a number two when I’m doing what I’m doing and I let the dart go and its like throwing darts. It’s really like rigatoni times 6 but when you flip it backwards boom stiggy boom and then you have another beat. That’s my formula, which is kind of simple.
JB. The knee bone’s connected to the thighbone.
LM. Alchemist, you recently made an album with Curren$y. How does it work when you make full albums, do you construct the songs together?
A. It’s a joint effort of effortless joining joints. Especially with Curren$y, we rolled a long of joints. So we rolled joints, made a lot of joints and it was a joint effort.
JB. You put it best; it’s a joint effort. Sometimes an artist will have a direction that they want you to do. But as a producer, your job is to harness it back and turn it into something cohesive and make joints.
LM. What’s next for you both?
JB. I’m opening up a farm.
LM. Lovely, what animals are you gonna have?
JB. Every one. Pigeons, gorilla, squids, penguins, I’ll build a little ice roof for penguins to hang out on, right in the middle of Harlem hopefully. A no-kill shelter for all animals.
LM. SB.TV are having our launch party at Nando’s on June 7th, you guys should come if you’re in the UK.
JB. Even if we aren’t here, we should come anyway.
A. I brushed my teeth with some Nando’s sauce this morning, that shit was dope.
JB. And what did that girl earlier say when she saw you?
A. She was on me. It’s like a fucking aphrodisiac or something. Big up Nando’s, man.
LM. Maybe if you come to the SB.TV launch party you could get a black card? This is your chance.
A. Let them know how magical I am. Tell them I’m amazing and I deserve Nando’s regularly. Just lie to them basically.
JB. Nando’s, we need to have black cards.
A. Yo, ‘sup Nando’s, we need to have chicken all the time. We’ll put you in our rhymes.
LM. Two UK artists, Example and Ed Sheeran did a joke track called the Nando’s skank. You should do a US version.
JB. Yeah, we’re on that.
A. Give me a black card.
Interview for SB.TV