Alex Lopategui is joined by The Breaking Atoms Podcast for an exclusive interview. Rap Scientists Sumit Sharma (SS) and Chris Mitchell (CM) deconstruct their process into creating the ‘Blueprint series’ as well as their approach to archiving the truth about Hip Hop culture, issues and politics. With clinical analysis and expert guests, the curation of this podcast is unbelievable. Catch the interview below!
I am intrigued to understand what it is that makes ‘The Blueprint’ so central to Hip Hop history and what made you focus on the record for the series?
SS: Following on from our Reasonable Doubt album, it felt right to close the Jay-Z chapter with this album because it was the project that solidified his name in the history books. Commercially, The Blueprint was a step-change from the sound that was prevalent at the time. For me, I always look at it as the Illmatic of the 2000s. This album is more than the hit records and timeless quotables. It’s about the other cast members. Blueprint brought back the sound of the golden age, but a 2.0. In Just Blaze, Kanye West, Young Guru, Kyambo’ Hip Hop’ Joshua, and Bink, we see a group of individuals, all of whom have had a profound impact on Hip Hop. When we talk about history, it’s important to recognise more than Jay-Z.
I think the word that comes to mind when listening to the series is ‘Curation’. The vast amount of content and guest features is astonishing. What was your ethos behind the series and how did you manage to succinctly include it all?
SS: In an age where ‘fake news’ is an actual phrase, it’s incredibly important to carry on to ensure that history is written or curated correctly. Our ethos is to approach this as journalists. We move with integrity and authenticity, and our goal is to focus on the subject, not us. Me and Chris are merely conduits to the information.
CM: Putting a narrative documentary together is not easy, especially when you consider we did the Reasonable Doubt series in 2 months and this Blueprint series in a month and a half. But this is where our knowledge and audio prowess comes into play. There’s a lot that gets left on the cutting room floor. Like any author, they have to make editorial decisions into what gets included and what doesn’t. The thought process is generally ‘does this add more value to the story, and does it fit the narrative arch?’
SS: We are truly grateful to every contributor because it’s their perspective that makes the documentaries so riveting. We share any wins with them.
Cross pollination of excellent talent surrounding an artist in theory leads to something quite special. Kanye West, JustBlaze and Biggs just to name a few were all responsible for engineering a cohesive sound pallet for Jayz. How different does this record sound without their influences and how involved do you think JayZ was with building that team?
CM: Without Just Blaze, Kanye and Bink, you don’t get this seminal piece of work.
SS: A lot of credit has to go to Biggs and Dame Dash when you think about the team Rocafella built. Jay-Z would have had a hand, as would have others. Just Blaze and Kymabo Joshua were instrumental in bringing Young Guru into the fold. Taking a football analogy, you may have Pep or Jurgen Klopp as the star name you see, but there are coaches behind them that help build that team.
Have you set your sights on a new series? If so, why have you chosen it?
SS: We’re working on a couple right now, but once it’s ready, we’ll be sure to let you know. Right now, we are grateful and humbled by the support of yourselves, The Guardian, Music Week, ESPN and Forbes. We never take support for granted, so thank you.