James Dewitt Yancey, better known as J Dilla, is one of the most iconic names in hip hop history. Producing for a wide range of artist’s such as Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, Common, The Roots, Q-Tip, The Pharcyde and many many more, it’s no wonder he’s been held as one of the best producers in hip hop. Releasing 4 solo albums, 3 albums with the Slum Village trio, and one album with Madlib (creating Jaylib), it was unfortunate that some only began to appreciate him until after his death and the release of his final live work Donuts; receiving critical acclaim from nearly everyone including The Fader, Megacritic, The A.V. Club, and Prefix Magazine. Dilla was known to sample in most of his work but flipped each sample, creating an all-around smooth and mellow sound throughout most of his instrumentals. Here’s a short excerpt from a Real Detroit Weekly cover story on Jay Dee:
It’s possible that his low-key attitude and devotion to craftsmanship, rather than desire for stardom, kept the unassuming artist below the mainstream’s radar. But musicians and purists to the game will tell you he was the producer’s producer — as talented as a Pharrell Williams or a Kanye West. “If you were to secretly ask the most praised hip-hop producers, if given a top three, who they fear the most, Dilla’s name would chart on everyone’s list, hands down,” The Roots’ ?uestlove told MTV last week. “I am fortunate to have known this man. He inspires me to perfect my craft in every way. Dilla was and will always be my hero.”
With an unflinching fondness for studio wizardry and a love for finding new sounds, Jay Dee began to change the way hip-hop was produced. Phat Kat stated: “Dilla didn’t fuck around in the studio. Everybody else had to adjust their style to keep up with Dilla or if they ever wanted the chance to work with Dilla. You had to be able to knock out your verse in one take.”
Today marks the date of Dilla’s birthday so we here at Originallity Kills felt it was only right to post up some tracks produced by the man himself and a 4-part interview below that we hope you will enjoy. R.I.P. Dilla.