The making of the greatest hip hop album of the 2000s all started when Kanye West, who was just a budding Chicago producer at the time, brought his beat CD to Roc-A-Fella.
Jay-Z’s 2001 magnum opus, The Blueprint, featured a rich, soulful soundscape, with producers like Kanye, Just Blaze, and Bink sampling the sampling the likes of Jackson 5, Bobby Byrd, Al Green, Natalie Cole and Bobby Blue Bland. In an interview on the A Waste Of Time podcast, Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua revealed that it was Kanye’s beat CD that was the driving force behind the album’s sound.
“It started because we was managing Kanye at the time,” Hip Hop recalled. “He gave me and Gee [Roberson] a beat tape [separately]. He made the beats for specific people, and he gave ’em to Gee to go take to people, ’cause that’s kinda like what Gee did.”
Hip Hop also revealed that a lot of the beats on the tape were produced in other rappers in mind – “Izzy” was meant for Ghostface Killah, “Heart of the City” for DMX and “Takeover” for Beanie Sigel. But once Hov got his hands on the tape and heard what was cooking, he wanted everything for himself.
“That was one beat tape. His whole goal was to never make beat tapes no more,” Hip Hop said. “That was the beat tape that he never had to make ’em again. He just went to sessions after that. That’s how that Blueprint sound really started, through that beat tape. Then we were seeing where it was goin’, then Just came with his stuff.”
In a 2004 interview with Vibe, Kanye talked about his legendary beat CD and his role in crafting one of the greatest hip hop records of all time:
Kanye West: Diamond D, Pete Rock, RZA, and Primo were doing soul samples since a long time ago. We just helped bring that style back. The beat CD I gave Jay for The Blueprint had “Never Change”; (State Property’s) “Got Nowhere,” which would’ve had Sade singing on it; the joint that is now Alicia Key’s “You Don’t Know My Name;” and “Heart of the City,” which R. Kelly initially sang on. For “Heart of the City,”Jay came up with what he wanted to say in his head, as usual. In the studio, the “Fiesta (Remix)” video came on TV, and Jay walked into the booth, started recording, finished the entire song all the way to the outro, and came back in the studio. The video was still on. Those Blueprint records are all classics— I’m part of history.V Vintage: Kanye West Dishes Gems On His ‘Blueprint’ Beat CD | Vibe