Man, what can I say about Dilla? Jay Dee. James Yancey. One of the greatest to ever do it. The man was a pure genius when it came to getting busy. From the beginning he came with those short, musky jazz samples melded with the craziest backbeats, all running out of the SP. Labcabin (“Runnin’ is a classic), The Coming, right on into the Tribe stuff. Sometimes you hear the haters disliking Dilla’s involvement with Tribe. You just have to dismiss that kind hate because a lot of the material speaks for itself (BR&L has some JOINTS).
And Slum Village?! Insane. Just look at how their CASSETTE of Fantastic Vol. 1 changed many of their newfound contemporaries’ outlook on music. Fantastic Vol. 2 is one of my favorite albums… EVER. I pre-ordered Welcome To Detroit, I wish I knew where my “the welcome poster” is. Like Water For Chocolate is also one of my favorite albums… EVER.
I can’t think of anyone more influential on the music I make. I’d estimate there’s easily more than 50 tracks I’ve done that are right out of a page of Dilla’s book. Many of them, no one’s heard. Most were made in a “practice” mode (crazy enough, just like it’s been said how Dilla did the same with Pete Rock). Some of them have been heard by many, and I always smile when someone takes the time to express their appreciation. All of them are created from a place of utter humility, pure homage, and undiluted humility. For me it’s just about Dilla being a legend… I never feel I even remotely reach the mark he set on the tracks I’m attempting to recreate. What’s most amazing about Dilla is that I’m hardly the only artist that’s done such. There’s tons of amazing (and some not amazing) projects that have been released posthumously in both his name and spirit.
I appreciate all of Dilla’s friends and associates, those who actually knew Dilla, who have made music with him. Their anecdotes, recollections, and memories lets Dilla’s legacy shine brightest. Compounding the shine of his legacy is how Dilla kept on making tracks even in deep sickness (that was kept private no less). Even in his last works, many of them made bedside in the hospital, he was telling us things. It’s evident he loved the music more than anything. It’s that reason alone which pinpoints why so many of us appreciate him. Why we hold events, and raise money. Why we write these testimonials, and list our favorite tracks. Why we marvel at his sample usage (I’ve now bumped House Shoes’ “King James Version” 3 times since writing this). It’s why we wear the “J Dilla Changed My Life” shirts. We bump (and use) his beattapes, we remix, we compile, we mix, we orchestrally arrange, spin, study, and enjoy everything about him so that he lives on.
… you are missed.