J Dilla, The Lost Interview [circa 2004]

XXLMag.com: Could you see all four of y’all coming together for a reunion album later on?

J Dilla: Yeah, you know what, me and T was talking about that. We about to do some secret project we got going on with all four of us getting together and just speaking on it. We just gotta make it happen.

XXLMag.com: What’s the Slum Village legacy?

J Dilla: Uhmmm, [long pause] have us on that list with innovators like… I don’t know ’cause A Tribe Called Quest is one of those groups to me that changed what hip-hop was doing. We wasn’t trying to be them we was just trying to bring something new to the table.

XXLMag.com: Early on Q-Tip gave Slum Village his stamp of approval as being the next A Tribe Called Quest. Was that a blessing or a curse?

J Dilla: It was kinda fucked up [getting that stamp] because people automatically put us in that [Tribe] category. That was actually a category that we didn’t actually wanna be in. I thought the music came off like that, but we didn’t realize that shit then. I mean, you gotta listen to the lyrics of the shit, niggas was talking about getting head from bitches. It was like a nigga from Native Tongues never woulda said that shit. I don’t know how to say it, it’s kinda fucked up because the audience we were trying to give to were actually people we hung around. Me, myself, I hung around regular ass Detroit cats. Not the backpack shit that people kept putting out there like that. I mean, I ain’t never carried no goddamn backpack, but like I said, I understand to a certain extent. I guess that’s how the beats came off on some smooth type of shit. And at that time, that’s when Ruff Ryders [was out] and there was a lot of hard shit on the radio so our thing was we’re gonna do exactly what’s not on the radio.

XXLMag.com: Did y’all expect Vol. 2 to be considered a hip-hop classic?

J Dilla: I always tell people, that whole [Vol. 2] album, beats, rhymes all that shit—from T3 freestyling to me doing them beats in three-four days—people don’t understand that was shit we threw together on some feel-good shit and we said we was gonna do that. We put that shit out in two weeks… We wasn’t thinking about the videos and the critics getting the shit in their hands. We was just making what we feel…

It took about two-three years for the shit to even come out and resurface but by that time the shit we was trying to do was on the radio all day on some R&B shit. Then, we was getting looked at as some R&B shit and I ain’t never read so many crazy ass reviews of muthafuckas not even understanding what we do. It’s crazy. So I feel the same when muthafuckas don’t feel the Slum and then I feel excited when they do appreciate it.

XXLMag.com: What are you working on now?

J Dilla: Right now I’m out here in Cali—I relocated from the D to Cali. I’m actually staying with Common, that’s my roommate, we’re doing the Real World style. We just finishing up his shit, some Busta shit… Just the usual people. I’m out here actually, I’m linking up with this dude Rob Walker and shit, the Neptunes’ manager. That’s it just really trying to make a move to get back in the game.

XXLMag.com: Anything else you want to add?

J Dilla: Get ready for the up-and-coming, whatever it is. —Anslem Samuel

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  • http://www.justice.gov.za Chiliz

    Gone but not 4getten

  • parodi

    A-1 Healthy?

  • RARA!!!

    Ain’t That Some Shh!
    A-1 Healthy! That’s How Fast Things Can Go Wrong On That A$$….Get Them Check Up’s Regularly People!

  • http://www.jamal7mile.blogspot.com Jamal7Mile

    Rest in Paradise, J Dilla. That whole year was messed up with Jay passing and Proof passing 2 months later. Had my whole city depressed.

    Detroit seems to be on the uptick, though. Check out this cat named Hayes who has production from Timbaland and Dr. Dre on his project “The First 48.” It’s at Iamhayes.com.

    Also check for a free download mixtape from Just Dizle “Best of J.Dilla pt3.” You can pick it up at HHDX.

  • Rob Markman

    Wow- such a flashback. This is great considering the moment in time that it came from.

  • pastorgreg
  • http://www.facebook.com/maxprofit Max Profit

    “Not the backpack shit that people kept putting out there like that. I mean, I ain’t never carried no goddamn backpack” Lol!!!!

    I wish this article came out back in ’04 J Dilla never really got to show people who he really was.

    Best Rapping Producer of all time! (No Joke)

    R.I.P. J Dilla

  • Darri

    I agree, Max. He was actually really nice on the mic device.

    It felt bittersweet to read this. What a talent we lost…

    God bless your soul. RIP.

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  • oskamadison

    Talk about diggin’ in the crates. Reading this interview reminded me how much Hip-Hop needed (and still needs) a cat like Dilla but didn’t realize it. I was just listening to Donuts last week (as part of my personal Dilla appreciation week to commemorate his passing) and thinking, who would go in on an instrumental album like that, ON THEIR DEATHBED IN THE HOSPITAL??!!!! The fact that dude was literally sick making that joint only made it that much more sick figuratively. You know you’re ill when you have other producers, legendary producers, collecting your joints and analyzin’ them. RIP, Dilla, Andy Warhol on the MPC 3000.

    @ Max Profit
    To this day, I still gotta run with Large Professor as the best producer on the mic but I feel where you’re coming from, just on the strength of “Thelonious”.

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  • John Cauner

    That was good to read. There’s gonna be a “Dilla Day” here in L.A. at the Stussy store on Feb 13. Dilla all day people!

  • Ghetto GODfather

    This was really funny reading this interview. Only because it strengthened my affirmation of SV altogether. They were only making music to appease the Detroit crowd. Just some different shit than what was on the radio or what was being played underground. I guess that’s why I thought it was so genius.

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