Saturday 08 February, 2014

MUSIC: Happy Birthday & R.I.P. J DILLA


Raise it up for James Dewitt Yancey. Happy Birthday, J Dilla. One of the illest in hip hop and music ever.

True confession: I didn’t know about J Dilla and the depth of his work until his passing. That’s not a good or a bad thing, it’s a fact. I do wish I had been exposed to his name and knew which of my favorite hip hop classics were his productions before he passed away: perhaps I would have gone to a Slum Village show or had the opportunity to meet him, get a photo, get a drop from the (even-then) living legend. I didn’t understand the depth of his legacy until even after he passed away in 2006: it was only years later that I finally “woke up” and took the time to listen to Slum Village’s Fan-Tas-Tic (Vol. 1) and Fantastic, Vol. 2.

With that said, I’m still learning, and eager to learn more about him and his work. What makes someone admire their own personal “heroes” even more is when you hear that your other heroes (and legends in music) admire that guy, and you admire them even more when you find out or hear about how they were great, humble people despite their fame. J Dilla was one of those people.

Tonight, I had a rare moment where I actually loved Facebook. Sure, I’m on it a lot, and it’s the platform for social media right now. But today, on what would have been the 40th birthday of Dilla, hip hop lovers, DJs, producers, famous hip hop artists and more logged onto Facebook to declare their love for him and share their favorite song, beat, or story. Through Facebook tonight, I learned of a Black Star (Mos Def & Talib Kweli) track called “Little Brother” and heard Questlove of The Roots discuss the awesome story of how J Dilla was inspired to deconstruct, reconstruct and flip a Roy Ayers track for the beat.

(1) Here’s the original sample by Roy Ayers on “Ain’t Got Time”

(2) Pete Rock’s interlude after the 5:05 mark.

(3) Dilla’s deconstruction and reconstruction and flip of the Roy Ayers sample, as used by Mos Def & Talib Kweli as Black Star.


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