Getting ready for this blog I was in deep thought to come up with something wordy and introspective, but the music took over and I’m gonna hit it like this: J Dilla is the greatest.
I’m the biggest stan for Q-Tip. Most in my circle know he can do no wrong. Aside from making classics with Tribe, Tip’s biggest contribution to the game may very well be introducing J Dilla to the masses. When I was associate music editor for XXL, word spread about this group out of the D named Slum Village. I loved how they had a tribe reference in their name. Just for that, I knew they would be dope.
Even with the underground society already abreast of the trio (Fantastic Voyage Vol. 1 is classic status), when they were trying to get in the main game, it took a by myself drive in South Carolina (was a few hours long) to really understand the illness that is the Slum Village Fantastic Voyage Vol. 2 album with the soul sounds provided by Dilla. With all the amazing work to come from him in the years that followed, I am still connected to that project. How many albums you own (not songs, I’m talking albums) that instantly transport you to a trying time? Since the majority of that album was about baggin’ chicks, sexin’ chicks, dissin’ chicks, lovin’ chicks, breakin up with chicks, I could relate. I was going through all of that and Dilla’s grooves were the sonic backdrop to my mental untangling of various events with women at the time, as I drove for what seemed forever.
From then on, my ears would perk up whenever a dope beat would knock. I’d go down the list. “Did Premo, Pete, Large Pro, or Dilla, do it?” He snuck in my top tier of hip-hop produces with ease. Fast forward to Donuts coming out in ‘06, I once again found myself on a road trip with his music. This time rolling from L.A. to Vegas in the middle of the night with my boys Adell (West Coast Editor of KING Magazine) and Murph (senior associate editor of VIBE Magazine) for A’s b-day night out. We kept that album on repeat for the four hours going and much of the four hours going back. I rocked it so much that it became the album I would write a few stories to when I needed inspiration.
Questlove did an amazing myspace post awhile back on the greatness of Dilla’s production. This list has stuck with me since I first read it in ’06. Aside from the acute detail and memory that Quest is known for, the exact mention of these musical gems makes me go to the said tracks just to experience what Quest is praising so much. If you have an afternoon to fill up you should see how many of these you can hear, quite astounding.
To sum up his influence on the game is to see the abundance of mixtapes, parties, songs, t-shirts and such that comes out on the regular in honor of his name, fame and musical acclaim (I shoulda been a rapper). Too many direct things to list, as well as take to task the ones that mean well but don’t kick back some bread (if they make any) to his Moms or estate that helps his kids. There is one in particular that is Ma Dukes Yancy approved and assists in providing funds to his fam and it’s an album on Mochilla Records titled Suite For Ma Dukes.
You can cop the EP right now at iTunes to help Ma Dukes Yancy, who is suffering from the same health issues that claimed Dilla’s life, and get that warm and fuzzy feeling of doing something good in the world. The EP (with album to come in April) by Carlos Niño & Miguel Atwood Ferguso is for us music heads that can appreciate the sound of hip-hop beats being converted to orchestrated melody.
As I was writing this I was finding mad Dilla joints I never heard. My today fave being “Fly Girl“, the dope shit is how simple the tumbling piano loop is against that pap-pap drum pattern. I also went to Twitter to see what some of the people’s favorite Dilla beats are…here’s a few from the following fam:
Dipan Vadgama says “Doonit” off Like Water for Chocolate
Young H Radio says The Pharcyde singles, “Show Me What You Got”
Chuck Anderson says Slum Village’s “Climax”, Tribe’s “Find My Way”
Dre’ of onustees.com says “Oblighetto”, “Players” “Gobstopper”, “Forth and Back” and “Go Ladies”
Sean Beauford says “The Look of Love pt. 1”
Jbizjerzup says “Love Jones”
Roknowledge says “The Red” Jaylib album
DertyDen says “The New” and “Anti-American Graffitti”
RobtheMusicEd says “Climax” or De La’s “Stakes is High”
Jackpot says “Climax,” “Get Dis Money” from SV, “Don’t Nobody Care About Us from Phat Kat, “Runnin” from Pharcyde and “Little Brother” from Black Star
Marcusrespekt says “Get Dis Money”
Fuseboxradio says Slum Village’s “Players”
And I say
“Believe in God”
And we won’t even go into him as a rapper…but check his little brother Illa J out.
For y’all that’s familiar with his work, what’s your fave Dilla joints?