As one of the last veritable super-producers in hip hop, Just Blaze has helmed tracks for everyone from Jay-Z and Eminem to Drake, Cam’ron and Kendrick Lamar over his 15-year career. “Higher,” his pulsating monster of a song with Baauer, is already an internet breakout and poised to bring EDM trap (or trap hop, or whatever you want to call it) to the masses. On the eve of his 16-date Big League Tour with Baauer, Just shared how he got Jay-Z to jump on “Higher,” the possibility of a Dipset reunion and how A$AP Rocky stacks up against NYC rap royalty.
“Higher” with Baauer has blown up online. I think you have the only EDM hip-hop song with a Jay-Z drop. How did you swing that?
I got a call [from Jay-Z] when we were working on “Higher.” I figured it might be cool for Baauer to meet Jay, so I took him over there with me. When we left, I was like, “Wait a minute. I just had an idea.” Ran back in and I told Jay-Z, “Could you do a drop for the tour?” It was originally just something we would utilize somehow during the show. I had him record it for me, right into my phone. The night we put it out, we were trying to figure out an intro and I was just like, “We got it. Just put the Jay-Z track at the top.”
Awesome. Was Baauer flipping out when he got to meet Jay-Z for the first time?
No he wasn’t. He was definitely excited like, “We’re gonna meet Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Oh my god. Wow!” but when we got there he was quiet — as you kind of should be as a new person in the situation. But I could tell on the inside he was super hyped.
Is Jay-Z planning to do a full verse on “Higher?”
We haven’t talked about him doing a verse. The night I played it, the night that he did the drop, him and Beyoncé were like “Oh I really like it. It sounds good. Wow. Cool.” They were into it. It crossed my mind to give him a call to jump on it but I want to let the record really do what it’s going to do. Let it get a little bit bigger first and then, you know, maybe we’ll approach him.
You just kicked off the Big League Tour with Baauer. What can people expect? Will you play “Higher” 50 times?
[Laughs.] Well I played it five times last night at an event I did. I don’t know if I’ll play it 50 times … If you like “Higher,” you’ll definitely like the show because it’s that same energy.
I’m sure there will be some fun on the road. Any particularly crazy tour stories?
If I told you, I’d be in a lot of trouble.
This EDM hip-hop genre is being called so many things. You tagged “Higher” as “Trap Hop.” Is that how you categorize it?
No. Actually, I said, “Trap Hop Ha.” That was more so a joke. To be honest, I just like music. I’m not one for genres and sub-genres. If it sounds good and people can move and rock out to it and have a good time, that’s all that really matters.
There seems to be an increase in drug awareness with the rise of whatever we call this genre. Do you think a person needs to be uh, high, when listening to “Higher?”
I listen to it all the time and I’m not high. I don’t think you need to be at all. What’s interesting to me, I’ve heard this sentiment before, if certain people need to be high to listen to the joint, it’s probably not for you.
Or maybe they need to go to rehab.
This is true. Quite possible.
On an unrelated note, I’m sure you’re just as excited as I am about the Dipset 10th Anniversary concert in NYC. Will we ever get another album from you and the Dips?
I couldn’t tell you. I haven’t been in touch with those guys probably for like 10 years. That would be great for New York, great for hip hop. I think those guys have internal issues they need to work out, some of which have played out publicly. But if they did, that would be great for New York. They were probably the last great New York movement.
What do you say to those who draw the parallel between A$AP Mob to Dipset or even the Wu-Tang Clan?
Not yet. I think A$AP Mob, the potential is there. I guess it’s safe to somewhat compare in that A$AP Rocky is their Method Man; he was their breakout artist and the first solo artist to have success, but after the first Method Man single, we got the Wu-Tang Clan album; we didn’t get a Method Man album right away. So we have to wait until an A$AP Mob album to gauge whether that comparison is fair or not.
So you think that A$AP Rocky is as good a rapper as Method Man?
Uh, I’m not familiar with his catalog enough to say, but it’s a different time, different era so I don’t think that it’s easy or possible to make that comparison. Two different styles of rap, two different genres of rap. That’s like asking, “Is Jay-Z as good a rapper as Too $hort?” It’s two different genres, two different styles. I’m not one for comparisons. Is it good or not?