Hip-Hop’s Top Producers Teach You How To Make An Album
Executive Producer: Just Blaze
Top Credits: Saigon, The Greatest Story Never Told
Additional Production Credits: Jay Z, The Black Album
Jay Z, The Blueprint
The Diplomats, Diplomatic Immunity
Favorite Executive produced album: Saigon, The Greatest Story Never Told
Most Important EP Attribute: Patience
Just Blaze: A lot of people interchange the term ‘producer’ with ‘beat maker.’ As a producer, your job is to do a vision and a finished product. So when Puff, or Diddy, or whatever you wanna call him, first came to prominence, his role was as a producer. He wasn’t sitting there programming beats. He had a style of beat makers that he brought together called The Hitmen and he directed that ship.
That being said, as an executive producer, you’re basically doing that for the entire project. Your job at the end of the day is to go over the finished product. There are various degrees of organization that you’re responsible for in terms of keeping things in line and keeping things efficient and within the budget, and also helping the artist realize their vision, or put together a vision, for that album and deliver that album. Being an executive producer doesn’t mean that you’re making every beat on the album. It’s more about making sure the Ts are crossed. The Is are dotted, the record’s mixed properly, the mastering is right. And bringing the best performance out of the artist as you can, by any means necessary.
You have to be patient, especially if you’re dealing with a group, because you have multiple personalities that all have to basically form one. There’s gonna be differences of opinion. One of the things I always tell people [is] to be successful as producers you kinda to have understand the human psyche. You want to bring the best out of the artist and you want them to be comfortable with you, but you also have to be able to develop criticism that doesn’t offend them. That’s why you have to understand psychology; more specifically, creative psychology, because creative people, we tend to think and feel and act differently than normal people. You have to understand the psyche of a creative person and know how to criticize them while bringing the best out of them.
Music is a very personal thing, which is why you have to know how to deliver your input but still maintain the artist’s [comfort] with you. You’re hired to do a job. If the artist isn’t comfortable with you, you’re not doing your job. There are plenty of artists who are their own executive producers. Somebody like Jay Z, he knows what he wants his final product to be. He knows what demographic he’s targeting. He knows what sounds he needs to cultivate to target that demographic. That’s stuff that comes from experience. Not everybody’s gonna know how to channel their vision. They may know what their vision is, but they may not know how to get there.