Justin Smith was born in Paterson, New Jersey to a poor family. He went to various schools in New York City and in New Jersey. As a child, Smith became a big fan of LL Cool J amongst other srars of his day. Initially, Just Blaze wanted to be a rapper, but would later decide against this. His interests soon turned to producing.
In 1999, Smith was discovered by Roc-A-Fella Records artist, Jay-Z, who immediately signed him on to be an in-house producer. He produced Jay's fifth album, The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, which made him a major star in the production field. He would also produce for the likes of Memphis Bleek, Cam'ron, Beanie Sigel, The Game and Joe Budden. It would be Budden that dubbed him Just Blaze. In 2003, Just Blaze decided that it was time for him to start developing his own artists. He proposed the idea to the offices of Roc-A-Fella and Def Jam, who could not support another label due to the Dame Dash split. In 2004, he left Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam on good terms. In 2004, Atlantic Records took advantage of Just Blaze's free agency and granted him his own label, Fort Knocks Entertainment.
Fort Knocks Entertainment
In 2004, the label was created and Just Blaze would sign rapper, Saigon, who immediately released his debut album. Blaze has since gone on to sign various artists to his growing imprint, while managing to get a release from Saigon every year.