Last night Just Blaze held the final goodbye for his legendary Baseline recording studio. Naturally, I found out about the evening’s festivities, which reportedly were a walk-through and tour sort of thing, super late. I wound up making my way over around 10pm, after leaving the ego trip film screening. Timmhotep came with. I entered the studio to see what looked like actual organized confusion in the lounge. Boxes everywhere, records packed up, gear laying around, sneakers, pool balls and assorted memorabilia. I’d once been involved with the closing of a major studio (Mystic Studios, in Staten Island, where a lot of classic material was recorded), and remember the disaster which became of the studio space when the equipment was broken down and storage spaces were cleaned out. It’s really a trip down memory lane.
I wish I could say I had a really close relationship with Baseline, but I didn’t. That’s not to say I don’t have my memories of it like anyone else. Here are a few that come to mind.
– My first time playing beats in the A room. This was around December of 2002. The Blueprint 2 had just come out, and somehow someway a friend of mine met Geda K at a party or something, and asked him for music for these DJ Storm mixtapes we were recording out of the Staten Island studio I had at the time. We wound up at Baseline that night, and playing beats for Geda K and the rest of the Get Low Records artists. That was the first time I met Just Blaze. I recall being ushered out of the studio super late that night- Mariah Carey had arrived and to the best of my knowledge they cut “Oh Boy” in that session.
– I would occasionally go back to check the Get Low Records rappers, and they cut a few songs to beats of mine, but nothing ever came of it. I didn’t get back into Baseline really until the Spring of 2004, when Matt Fingaz brought myself and my then manager, Gello Jones, up there during a session with Ayatollah in the B room. During that session I met the rapper Smitty, who at the time was signed to J Records, and gave him a beat CD, but didn’t really get his contacts or anything. The results of me handing him that beat CD wound up being the song “It’s Alright” which somehow got miscredited to 9th Wonder when it was released on an independent Smitty album in 2006. Till this day I’ve probably had five conversations with 9th Wonder and have never once broached this subject. I don’t even think he knows about it.
– A few months later I wound up interviewing Just Blaze for a XXL article on Beat Society that never made it into the magazine. That was my first front of the book piece for XXL. At the end of our interview I asked if I could play him some beats. He obliged. He picked two that he liked. One he wanted for Saigon, the other he asked me to bring back so he could re-produce it. I remember dropping the files off at Baseline a few days later and exchanging some emails with Just about it, saying that I don’t give files out for anything unless money is exchanging hands, but that I trusted him. A few days later I was at the XXL office and Bonsu Thompson told me Just was talking to him about me. I think he embellished a bit and said Just might want to sign me or something as a producer. That was a nice pipe dream while it lasted. Ha!
– The next fond memory I have of Baseline is coming up there to play beats for Freeway. This was either December of 2004, or 2005. Caveman Rosario, who cut my first check ever for a beat (“Through My Rearview” on Freeway’s Ice City: Welcome to the Hood LP) in 2004, wanted me to get on Free at Last. Free had already recorded to one of my beats and I was there to play more. I waited hours for Freeway to arrive. Scram Jones showed up too. I ended up playing the tracks at like 2am or something. The interesting thing about this night was this was the infamous session Freeway claims he didn’t have with Just Blaze, when he said Just was too busy for him. In fact, Just spent hours working on this one beat for him. So that’s the end of that.
– We also did the Scratch Magazine feature (NOT the cover story with Saigon) with Just Blaze and Roland V-Synth GT that was in the last issue of the magazine ever (with 50 Cent and Timbaland on the cover). I remember Scratch’s Editor-in-Chief looking at me kinda crazy when I suggested Just Blaze to do that review. He was like, “Are you just trying to get the biggest producers possible for your section of the magazine?” I replied, “Ummm… yeah.” And sure enough, Just was down for it. And in that interview is where you first heard him talk about doing more electronic-sounding music, a la TI’s “Live Your Life.”
Outside of that, I can remember meeting DJ Green Lantern at Baseline for the first time. I can remember Dan Solomito allowing me to come play beats for Naledge and Double-O of Kidz in the Hall during their 3-marathon recording session of School Was My Hustle. I remember giving Royce the 5’9 some beats outside of the studio one night. I remember playing beats for Young Guru one night when I was there for god knows what reason.
Let me not forgot, there was also that night I waited outside for something like three hours for Just to show up, just so I could play him some new shit. That was the grind back then.
To sum it up, it was a great place, a sort of crossroads for a lot of different types of folks in the music and media business. There used to be many of those types of studios in Manhattan. Now sadly many of them are gone, and we add Baseline to the list.
Just Blaze with the last call for alcohol
Just Blaze freestyling over Exhibit C
Pardon the terrible quality on these videos. I found out about the baseline closing event super late and was armed with only a blackberry camera phone.