To speak about J Dilla is to speak about raw artistry, unbridled and filtered through only one’s emotions.
Ten Years ago the world lost James DeWitt Yancey, better known by his producer name J Dilla. We’d like to take a moment to discuss and honor the memory of an artist who reinvented the way Hip Hop producers approach their craft.
Hip Hop has been host to a gang of incredibly talented producers, and while J Dilla certainly passed his predecessors in that sense, his legacy lies outside the realm of technical skill. Jay Dee touched turntables the way Picasso flicked his brush, moving in accordance to emotion and whim rather than structure and rhythm. That is what pushed Dilla into a new field of production, being the first to twist and warp samples instead of just chopping.
Dilla’s final project Donuts, is the climax of his innovation and with good reason. Consider the pull that his emotions had over how he would flip a sample, then understand that Jay was putting together this record while on his deathbed. Jay Electronica remarked that Dilla would be tapping away on his sampler even in the hospital bed. The record is already such a masterpiece, and that background only sweetens the pot.
The last track on Donuts is slated as an intro, while it just be my speculation as a fan, this choice hammers in the message of Hip Hop’s foreverness. Jay Dee knew he would pass soon after the record was released, but maybe he also knew that his legacy and the genre was still on the intro, and we had a wild ride ahead of us.
RIP J Dilla.
art by your homie, Arthur Banach
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