Hip-Hop

Just Blaze Says He's Working 'Extensively' on Snoop Dogg's New Album

Just Blaze 2016
Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Just Blaze photographed on July 19, 2012 in New York City.  

Just Blaze has been relatively quiet on the production front in recent years, largely trading life in the studio for life on the road. But the New Jersey-born producer, who first made his name in the early-mid-2000s behind the boards for Jay Z, Cam'ron, Mariah Carey and much of the classic Roc-A-Fella roster, among others, made a big splash already this year with his work on Beyonce's powerful album cut "Freedom," featuring Kendrick Lamar. And Blaze is eager to get back into the studio after a May European tour finally wraps up.

"Being on the road and being on stage, playing festivals, has been giving me more of an itch to get back to exploring my other creative side: being back in the studio, producing and writing," he tells Billboard. "Sometimes you just need to take a break from it so you can get hungry and do it again... [Now] I just want to get back in the studio and work."

Some of that work has already gotten started. Last month, Snoop Dogg posted a video of himself in the studio with Just and Nipsey Hu$$le, hinting at a new album on the way in July. And according to Just, he and the West Coast vet -- who first collaborated on Snoop's "Lollipop," off his 2002 album Paid tha Cost to Be Da Boss -- are working together "extensively" on the project.

"For me personally, I love all the experimental things that he's done the past few years, like the Bush album [with Pharrell in 2015], the album with Wiz [2011's Mac & Devin Go to High School soundtrack], the Snoop Lion stuff [2013's Reincarnated]," Blaze says. "But my personal favorite albums from Snoop, besides Doggystyle, obviously, are albums like [2002's] Paid Da Cost to Be Da Boss, Rhythm & Gangsta [from 2004], where he kind of goes back to that Snoop personality that we all first fell in love with. And I was very excited to find out that that’s the direction he’s taking with this album. And just coincidentally, some of the stuff that I’ve been working on lately just kind of felt like an updated version of that old Death Row sound, kind of an updated G-Funk. I just started working on these tracks and they had a lot of those similar elements, just felt like newer versions of that feeling."

Snoop's debut album, Doggystyle, was produced entirely by Dr. Dre, and lately he's been getting back into one-producer projects; 2013's 7 Days of Funk (under the moniker Snoopzilla) was crafted with Dam-Funk, while last year's Bush was entirely produced by Pharrell. But for now, Just Blaze says that while he's heavily involved, there are no plans for him to be behind the boards for the full LP.

"With me, I just like to be involved in a project whether it directly benefits me or not," he says. "So if somebody has a great song and I have ideas and I feel like I can make the song better, I’m going to offer those ideas. But I think that’s kind of all been part of me and [Snoop] having a better working relationship. The final scope and definition of the project remains to be seen, but I’m just excited. I’ve always been a Snoop fan since Doggystyle and The Chronic, so to get a chance to work with him a little more extensively than just, 'Here’s a beat,' has been great."

But that's not all -- Just is also getting into the restaurant business; he and a few business partners are currently in the middle of constructing a new restaurant in Jersey City called Ani Ramen, which they plan to have open by mid-summer. But as for new music with old friends Jay Z and Kanye West -- he told Spin last week he has "at least two albums’ worth of Jay Z material sitting in my vault" -- he's remaining tight-lipped at the moment. "Nothing I can speak about right now," he says. "But stay tuned."