Wednesday, February 14, 2007


It's been over a year since the hip hop industry and the global music community as a whole lost one of the greatest hip-hop producers of all time (and the best in my opinion); J Dilla aka Jay Dee aka James Yancey. On February 10th, 2006, J Dilla (who hailed from Detroit, Michigan) lost his longterm battle with lupus. Dilla had been fighting the debilitating disease for years and unfortunately he eventually lost that battle.

I myself was familiar with some of Dilla's tunes over the years but unfortunately I truly realized the musical genius he was after he had already passed. In just the last year since his passing, I have been hooked on his instrumental masterpiece "Donuts", the followup "The Shining" and his contribution to Stones Throw's "Chrome Children" compilation. I (among millions) can only ponder just what else Jay Dee could have accomplished musically if he had still been here with us today.

After hearing snippets of some more of Dilla's yet to be released gems at the Stones Throw show back in October in Toronto; I am literally salivating with anticipation to hear more. Stones Throw (a brilliant indie hip-hop label based out of Cali) has a double CD release entitled "Ruff Draft" coming out soon as well. I can only hope that their vaults hold much more of Dilla's unreleased music, because those who didn't know Dilla when he was around need to hear what hip-hop music really sounds like.

The sound that Dilla produced is both indescribable and simple at the same time. Whether you wanted to hear some menacing futuristic boom-bap like on "E=MC2" featuring Common (from "The Shining") or the most mesmerizing, soulful and organic beat I have ever heard on the instrumental "Time: The Donut of the Heart" from "Donuts; Dilla made music that touched you no matter how complex or how simple it sounded. By the way, Black Thought also spits on the "Time" beat on a cut off The Roots' "Game Theory". A must hear for sure!

I could go on for days about the impact that Dilla's music has had on me in the short period that I have truly discovered his music, but this piece was meant to be a short reminder to myself and to whoever else reads this that Dilla was, is and always will be hip-hop music to me.

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