Producer Just Blaze breaks down the god mp3 player’s mass appeal
VIBE: Before Apple reinvented the track wheel, some people were still shoving disc mans in their backpacks. Do you remember purchasing your first iPod?
Just Blaze: I got one the first day it was out. It’s hard to believe it was just a few months after 9/11. But I went down to J&R for mine—there were no Apple stores yet.
How did the iPod affect your record-collecting regimen?
I had a few CDs, but I mostly bought albums on vinyl. Then all of a sudden it’s like, wait a minute, I can have all my music, all these crates and stacks on a device that fits in my pocket? There was no iTunes store yet, so I went on a CD buying binge, almost daily. No joke. It became an obsession. I would go to stores like J&R on Park Row in New York and buy out the entire rap section. Few days later, I’d go to the old Virgin Mega store at Union Square, and do the same thing. I amassed this massive CD collection to build my iTunes library for my iPod.
What makes it the greatest invention of our generation?
It singlehandedly changed how we interface with music, how music is consumed, how it’s made, how it’s released. The iPod started it all. Apple is now a part of our daily lives—we all know who [Apple co-founder] Steve Jobs is. It started a revolution.
Plus, the iPod begat iTunes, another life-changer.
That’s the thing. The iPod helped create this whole ecosystem that includes iTunes and now the iPhone and iPad. It also transformed Apple from this specialized, almost niche computer company into this iconic, consumer electronic company, a music company and a leading design company. Think about those mp3 players on the market when it came out. They were bulky, and the operating systems were complicated. Then the iPod drops, a beautiful, sleek white player and the iconic track wheel and such a simple operating system that flat-out worked better. Better battery life, better storage. Better everything. They won big.