Saturday, February 16, 2013

J Dilla: Still Chasing Rainbows

By Andrew Blum

When you mention the “revolutionary hip-hop pioneer from Detroit,” you can garner a lot about the person from their response. There are two most likely responses:

1) Oh, do you mean Eminem?
2) Oh! you MUST mean J.D!

The latter being J-Dilla, and the correct answer, The former being a worthy artist, who in his own right owes quite a bit to the momentous producer J Dilla. If the person considers themselves fans of pop, and watches the Grammy’s for instance, they will likely say Eminem. As a guy from Brooklyn, even writing about MC/Producers from Detroit almost feels silly, since Brooklyn alone has more notable MCs than the entire Midwest. Not to knock the Midwest, as it gave us lush talents, as well as Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony, but one in particular who I’d like to further explore. J Dilla is the stage moniker for James Dewitt Yancey, original member of Slum Village, and many other associated acts.
The fact is that in his relatively short career, Dilla-dog has reached milestones which make any other producer straight salivate. Early in the 1990's, after releasing the debut album Fan-Tas-Tic, he garnered attention from Q-Tip, and began making beats for A Tribe Called Quest, the equivalent of the hip-hop gold standard. Fast forward 20 years, and think about why you’ve probably never rocked out to Jay Dee, or J Dilla, or one of his many other monikers. If you have and I’ve offended you, well get off your high horse and help bring this genius his due respect. Here is one of his most beautiful contributions to ATCQ.

A Tribe Called Quest - 1nce Again (Prod. by J-Dilla)

Most DJs will have at least a vague knowledge of this man by now, whose death struck at the very heart of hip hop in 2006, amidst planned projects which were mostly finished posthumously. Yes, this incredibly talented man is dead. He sadly died three days after his 32nd birthday, and is survived by his two daughters and his mother, affectionally called Ma Dukes. His legacy is now being formed, crystallized really, as his talent as a producer and artist cannot be properly explained without listening to one of his especially melodious beats.

Of particular attention, I direct you to the easy to listen to album “Champion Sound” made in 2003 alongside fellow producer Madlib, and packaged adorably as “Jaylib.” Every track on that album deserves a good listen. i.e. Buy that shit yo! (Link) Or wait for the planned 2013 posthumous album which has also been announced (link).

Jaylib - Starz (Produced by J Dilla)

“ Are you interested in a career that involves money fame cars jewelry and all sort s of ghetto fabulous items? Well come to Dilla’s School of Performing Arts! Dilla’s School of Performing Arts has a lot to offer you. Call today at 1 888 GET-DEEZ-NUTZ”

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