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Just Blaze Unpacks His Samples for Beyoncé And Jay-Z

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In the first installment of our new video series The Formula, producer Just Blaze unpacks the drum-centric samples he created for Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Whether he's tapping out sampled drums or incorporating live drummers in the studio, his ability to harness energy is what makes his sound so dynamic.

The Formula is a five-episode series on the art of sampling in which acclaimed hip-hop producers show us how they find inspiration in classics, hidden gems, found sounds and other raw musical materials to create new hits . For each video in the series, NPR Music has also asked a writer we love to focus on an element of the video we've made and spin it off in a new direction — to sample it.

After being name-checked by Just Blaze in the video above, The Roots' drummer and Tonight Show bandleader Questlove corrects the record and explains why his colleague's talent for finding and flipping a sample is inspiring and infuriating in equal measure. You can read his essay here and find the latest episodes and essays at npr.org/theformula.


Host: Rodney Carmichael; Producers: Nick Michael, CJ Riculan; Animator: CJ Riculan; Assistant Producer: Ben Naddaff-Hafrey; Director of Photography: Colin Marshall; Editors: Annabel Edwards, Nick Michael; Videographers: Annabel Edwards, Nickolai Hammar, Colin Marshall; Audio Recording Engineer: Nickolai Hammar; Audio Mix Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Supervising Producer: Nick Michael; Senior Producer: Abby O'Neill; Consulting Editor: Jacob Ganz; Managing Editor: Becky Lettenberger; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann, Keith Jenkins, Lauren Onkey


  • "Hovi Baby," Jay-Z, The Blueprint 2(2002)
  • "Shaft In Africa (Addis)," Johnny Pate, Shaft in Africa(1973)
  • "Show Me What You Got," Jay-Z, Kingdom Come (2006)
  • "Let Me Try," Kaleidoscope, Kaleidoscope (1969)
  • "Freedom," Beyoncé, Lemonade (2016)
  • "Rose Water", DJ Face [series theme track]
  • Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.