Credit: NPR

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Whether he's tapping out sampled drums or working with live drummers in the studio, Just Blaze's

ability to harness energy is what makes his work so dynamic. In the first installment of our new video series The Formula, Just Blaze unpacks the drum-centric samples he created for Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

The drummer and Tonight Show bandleader Questlove corrected the record after being name-checked by fellow producer Just Blaze in the video above, and explains why his colleague's talent for finding and flipping a sample is inspiring and infuriating in equal measure. Read his response here.

This is the first of five episodes of The Formula, a video and essay series in which five acclaimed hip-hop producers take you inside their creative process, demonstrating how they build new hits out of old sounds — one drum break or horn blast at a time. You can 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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