Ten years after Jay-Z's 9/11 masterpiece, producer 9th Wonder examines The Blueprint's sonic impact
The Blueprint changed the scope of how the mainstream thought about music. That really changed the game as far as what records sound like on the radio and how listeners perceived what a hit record was. You had to sample this way, or take a record and speed it up. That was a direct influence from Just Blaze and Kanye West.
The way Jay-Z works, he has a sound for a project and goes with it. The Blueprint was put together in a similar way as The Chronic because The Chronic was based around Parliament-Funkadelic, sounds like that. A lot of people feel the same way about The Blueprint: It's all about one sound. Just Blaze and Kanye found a lane and ran down it.
The best chopped sample is “U Don't Know.”* If you could turn back the hands of time and give everybody that same original record (Bobby Byrd's “I'm Not to Blame”), nobody would’ve chopped it up like Just Blaze. But every record ain't sped up, “All I Need” and “Renegade” were on there, too. It needed that really. It wasn't too left or out of the way. Those records kind of rounded it out.
There weren't a lot of rappers making concept albums. They would just put a bunch of songs out and get two hot singles. The Blueprint brought back the concept album. It wasn't really driven towards singles. It had singles on it, but the way it was packaged, the way it looked, everything—it feels like a whole entire idea. People became more creative about how they released an album. The Blueprint changed all of that. It just changed it all. —As told to John Kennedy
*9th Wonder crowns Blueprint's greatest beat in VIBE's August/September 2011 Juice issue, which features the full 10th anniversary commemorative package. The producer's Wonder Years compilation album will be released on Sept. 27.