Earlier today (July 9), XXL spoke with Fort Worth, Texas-based producer J-Roc, who has worked extensively with Timbaland on such projects as Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3, Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience (helping to produce singles “Mirrors” and “Suit And Tie”), and on a host of other albums and singles over the past seven years, and has no less than nine production credits on Jay’s new album Magna Carta Holy Grail. In this excerpt of the conversation, Roc discusses working with J.T. on The 20/20 Experience Part II, how he met Timbaland, the concept behind Blueprint 3, and echoes Mike Will Made It’s statements that the shorter tracks on MCHG—Mike Will’s “Beaches Is Better” and Timbaland and J-Roc’s “Versus”—will be made into longer, fuller tracks…maybe. Check below to see what J-Roc had to say, and check back later this week for the rest of our conversation with the producer.—Dan Rys (@danrys)
So how did you start working on the album?
Well, [Timbaland and I] were there finishing up the other half of 20/20 with Justin Timberlake, and being that that’s New York and Jay and Bey are always around New York doing some type of studio work, we were [all] in the same building at the same time. As usual, we’d be over there doing something besides Justin’s album, we’ll be tracking, cause we’re in New York and trying to feel the vibe, and in walks Jay, just out of nowhere. [Laughs] He was like, “What’s going on, let’s get it started!” And you know, that’s Jay. [Laughs]
How did you originally hook up with Timbaland?
Back in 2006, the end of 2006, somewhere around there. I was just coming off tour with Kirk Franklin, and Tim was working on Shock Value, and Bobby Valentino and somebody else at the same time [were there]. He had lost one of his producers, and he needed some assistance finishing the album. So a friend of mine called me and asked if I would be willing to go up and help out, and I said sure. So Tim called me, and I happened to be in the studio working on a track. And he heard what I was working on, and five seconds later he was like, “Oh, you gotta come up tomorrow!” [Laughs] That was when he was in Vegas, because the Justin Timberlake Sexyback tour was there. So I went up and we started banging [tracks] out, and we’ve been rolling ever since. We just had an instant connection, you know, it couldn’t have been any more perfect how it happened.
How did you meet Jay for the first time? You had worked on another of his albums, right?
Yeah, we did Blueprint 3. We were, again, in New York working on something else, [laughs] and Jay heard we were there. Actually, we were at his studio doing something else, and that’s where the idea of Blueprint 3 came about, because he wanted to do something different, something reminiscent of all the Blueprints that he had put out, and he needed Tim’s expertise on it, because he had done his previous LPs as well. So I kind of just met Jay through working with Tim, and me and Jay hit it off like we knew each other for 20 years or something, you know? We just became real close. The more and more I kept putting out singles or LPs, the more he kept a close ear on me, and wanted me to be a part of everything else he did from then on.
You played a part in “Versus” [from Magna Carta Holy Grail] as well, right?
Yeah yeah, just a little bit. Well, get the next album, you might hear it as a real song the next time. I’m givin’ a little hint: that’s what those [tracks] are, just little hints. He has so many great tracks, he couldn’t just put them all on there, so we were like, this is what we’ll do, we’ll just give them a little hint. So later when they hear it again, they’ll be like, “Oh shit, this is what it’s supposed to be,” you know what I mean? So he’s a clever guy.