You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, what with his rare Ralph Lauren Polo jackets and vintage Nikes, but Just Blaze is a hacker. Yes, that Just Blaze. Sure, the term has in the past decade or so been transmogrified into a catchall that includes anyone who can code in Javascript or jailbreak an iPhone, but Just Blaze is a hacker in the classic sense. He makes electronics do things they weren’t intended to do. “I was very much a tinkerer as a kid,” he says by phone between studio sessions in New York. “I was doing things like hacking or splicing extra battery packs into my mother’s cordless phone to try to get the battery to last longer.”

Still not sold on his hacker cred? How about this: Before anyone had songs produced by Just Blaze on their phones or MP3 players, he infiltrated the industry via Motorola’s famed P900 two-way pager.

“I got my first bit of industry-wide notoriety programming ringtones for those things,” says Just. “Back then, there wasn’t such a thing as ringtones for your phone, at all. But Motorola included an app that allowed you to make customizable tones. The way you had to enter the music into the pager wasn’t really a musical approach. It was more a mathematical thing. It was all numbers, letters, and punctuation. Kind of like a language of its own.”

[MORE: How a Producer for Hip-Hop’s Biggest Names Hacked His Way Into the Industry]

Photo: Alex Welsh/WIRED

(Source: Wired)

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    musical genius
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