Just Blaze is a geek at heart. The producer, who broke through in the early 2000s by crafting seminal songs with Jay-Z, has an obvious affection for the phalanx of equipment he's chosen for Rebel Base Studio, his personal suite at Stadium Red in Harlem. Describing his Fairman mastering compressor, he evokes the cadence and conviction of a veteran electronics salesman. But Blaze, born Justin Smith, knows that it takes more than great gear to make great music.

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