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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


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]
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