James Dewitt Yancey, aka J Dilla, was a founding member of the Detroit-based hip-hop group Slum Village and one of the best producers the game has ever seen. He has released numerous solo and collaborative projects, and has produced for artists such as Janet Jackson, A Tribe Called Quest, Common, Erykah Badu, The Pharcyde, Busta Rhymes, De La Soul, and many more. His birthday this coming Friday, Feb. 7, (affectionately known as “Dilla Day”), would be his 40th.
Dilla Day Chicago is an annual (for the past three years and counting) event that occurs every year on J Dilla’s born day, which also happens to be around the time of his untimely death (2006). Various cities around the world also have Dilla Day events to help keep his music and legacy alive.
In honor of Dilla Day, we got DJ Kwest-on and Joe Kollege to tell us five of their favorite songs either recorded, produced or remixed by Dilla.
1. Jay Dee – “Pause”
There is something about that kick in the beginning that just feels great when I play it.
2. Four Tet – “As Serious As Your Life” (Jay Dee remix)
Dilla completely changed the sound of this (already hot song) and made it groove.
3. Jay Dee – “F— The Police”
It’s gritty, It knocks, but it’s so simple. It’s just a drum sample.
4. J Dilla – “We F’ed Up”
This track is very slept on and it was produced by Kanye West.
5. J Dilla – “Waves”
It flows so well. What can I say about this track. Listen to this first, then listen to the original, “Johnny Don’t Do It” by 10cc, and peep how he chopped up the song. BTW, the original is not a good song.
1. Common Feat. Slum Village – “Thelonious”
The title along with track is a clear-cut reason why I consider J. Dilla the Thelonious Monk of our era. This track has sort of an asymmetrical feel to it, like many of Dilla’s tracks/beats. Dilla also proves why he’s no amateur on the mic. His lyrics and delivery on this song is dope!
2. Slum Village – “Fall In Love”
This is my all-time favorite Slum Village song. Its just a basic drum pattern and really dope sample, coupled with the laid-back flow of Baatin and T3 with Dilla singing the hook. The simplicity of it all makes it a dope song.
3. The Pharcyde – “Runnin’”
I liked just about every song from this J Dilla-produced album. However, I loved the message in this song about not running from your demons and problems. Dilla also shows that he has an impeccable ear for recognizing great music by the sample he chose to use for this song. (Saudade Vem Correndo by Stan Getz and Luis Bonfá)
4. Slum Village – “Conant Gardens”
I love this song for a couple of reasons: A) Dilla shows his ability to choose songs that no other producer has ever sampled. It’s just a simple bass riff that he slowed down, but he makes it sound so nice! B) I also love that Slum Village is representing the “hood” they come from and the city of Detroit. J. Dilla never hesitated to let you know that he was from Detroit. It was evident in his fashion, rhymes, and music. You can definitely hear and feel that soulful Motown Sound in a lot of his music.
5. Q-Tip – “Vivrant Thing”
What can I say? This song will forever be a certified club-banger. Remember the video?
Join DJ’s Joe Kollege & Kwest_on along with Craig Elliott, this Friday at Chicago’s Velvet Lounge (67 E. Cermak Rd.) as they celebrate the music, life, and legacy of Dilla by playing music performed, produced, sampled, and inspired by him all night long! You would be surprised at all the music, songs he has produced or remixed.