Many have studied the techniques and some may have come close but there is only one Dilla. And no one on God’s green earth will ever chop and loop records like the late, great James Dewitt Yancey.
Simply put, J Dilla is a legend. The Detroit producer-rapper is one of the founders of the group, Slum Village. He’s the man who produced The Pharcyde’s unforgettable, timeless song “Runnin’.” He’s the one who co-produced the last two A Tribe Called Quest albums along with Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. He’s the one who was apart of The Soulquarians with The Roots, Common, Black Star, D’Angelo and many others producing Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun, Common’s Like Water for Chocolate, D’Angelo’s Voodoo and The Roots’ Things Fall Apart. He’s the one who made his ninth instrumental album Donuts, in his hospital bed. J Dilla was incredible. He was a genius.
It will almost be a decade since the passing of Dilla Dawg and honestly Hip-Hop hasn’t been the same. We truly miss J Dilla. Why do you think Nas recently rhymed over “Gobstopper” instrumental renaming the song “The Season?” Nas isn’t the only one too. Since Dilla’s passing in 2006, every year there’s been at least one artist who will release a song using a previously heard instrumental of Dilla’s. Also artists have released new songs with J Dilla listed as the producer. Numerous tributes have been done in his honor. Like when Kanye West produced Common’s Finding Forever album, he did it in the way he thought J Dilla would have.
The legacy of Jay Dee lives on through the music and the people he touched. “J Dilla Changed My Life” T-shirts will always be a fashion statement for many Hip Hop Heads. Certainly there are still unreleased gems in his catalogue that will never see the light of a day but one could only imagine how incredible those jams sound. One thing that doesn’t get mentioned a lot is Dilla’s skills as a MC. On songs like “Thelonious” with Common and the rest of Slum Village he outshines his crew and the Chicago spitter providing the hook, beat and a homerun verse.
So much can be said about J Dilla but that would take a lengthy novel. We wish he was still here to make music with the new generation of artists. But surely he’s looking down from heaven, nodding his head in rhythm proud of his friends for pushing the culture forward. Thank you for your contributions Dilla.
Rest In Beats.