It’s been ten years since the great J.Dilla left us; however, his legacy is still burning as strong as ever. There are a few reasons for this. One is that his collaborators, friends, and family continue to keep his brand relevant, with new releases and merchandise. Two, his – awe inspiring – catalogue contains timeless classics that will never fade.
As a writer, I’m well aware that my opinions might not always match yours, the reader. That’s because music is a very personal experience, often tied to very specific memories, emotions, etc. My personal relationship with Dilla’s music dates back to 1995 when I was on a school trip. While at a mall in Montreal, I purchased a copy of The Pharcyde’s Labcabincalifornia. It’s a tape that was not only a turning point and catalyst for my twenty plus year odyssey into the hip-hop rabbit hole, but is also something I still own today. There were other producers on that album, but Dilla’s bassline on the album’s into song, Bullshit had me open from the first lick. Drop was another joint that really f@&ked my head, and the Spike Jonez video took it to a whole other level. In fact, it stands as one of the coolest most original videos I’ve ever seen. The most important record, though, was Runnin’. I will stand and argue with anyone who disagrees that Runnin’ was not Dilla’s best beat; period. Much like Will Smith’s Summertime and Aaliyah’s One In A Million, the song will always have a place in my heart – as it’s been with me thoughout some high highs and low lows in my life. Funny how music can do that.
Dilla’s production was captivating, and right down to his final days, he put everything he had into his music. He was his music, and his music was him. I think this deep connection and his creative aura was what made his music so…charismatic…so, timeless. Dilla was an innovator who fathered in a neo-soul vibe into the hip-hop landscape and inspired a generation of crate-digging hip-hop producers, who in turn will inspire the next generation.
So, I’ll end this piece with an RIP to one of the greatest producers who ever did it – the late, great, J Dilla.
Happy Dilla Day. Here’s a 12 minutes Dilla Video-Mix.