Dilla

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Dilla dates have come and gone – I’ve spent a good amount of time perusing different accounts and write-ups over the WWW. I think this one (at Metal Lungies) is the most comprehensive, and really does a good job of putting Dilla’s role in hip hop into perspective; reader/listener accounts are great.

For me, I was enjoying Dilla beats before I knew they were Dilla beats. Admittedly, it wasn’t until Kyle gave me a mixtape (Kyle used to make the illest mixes…On cassette…Trading Tapes anyone?) the summer of 2000 with SV’s “2U4U,” that I was “officially” introduced to Dilla…or Jay Dee. Once that connection was made, past music, e.g. ATCQ, Pharcyde, Busta Rhymes, all made more sense. The drum patterns, the sampling. Stylistically unique. Sonically threaded throughout his work. Then came Common’s Like Water For Chocolate, which for many, myself included, represented a “new” Dilla sound; the same way I felt when I heard EB’s “Didn’t Cha Know.”

Back to “2U4U” – the simplicity of that beat was so new to me; I fell hard for that song – the stop-and-go flow (featured throughout Fantastic Vol. 2) was so on point for that track. Let’s face it, that album completely changed my perception of hip hop music. I had a cassette player in my ’89 Ford Escort, and due to incessant rewind-play of that song, the cassette eventually got stuck in the player. It stayed there until I sold that car. To a large man with a large beard.

One of the “reflections” shared in that post from Metal Lungies indicated that the author wasn’t into Dilla lyrically (initially). Personally, I think he was the best lyricist for his beats. I guess it makes sense – Dilla was intimately involved with every nuisance of his beats, and at times, it sounded like he was less interested in “rapping,” and more considerate of adding more depth to the beat through his rhymes/delivery.

My Dilla discography is probably the prize possession of my music collection. It’s varied enough to match virtually any mood/situation. And seeming unique to Dilla, his beats are rarely dated. Bangin’ a track from 1996 is just as fresh in 2008.

Funny anecdote – I remember when the light went off in my head that SV’s Jay Dee was the “J. Yancy” all over Tribe’s Beats, Rhymes, & Life credits, I thought, “Wait, isn’t this the guy thought to have ruined Tribe?”

I never believed it.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized that Phife’s, “Slum Village gold still danglin’ in your ear,” from “Butter” was sampled by Dilla on FV2. (also sampled by Peanut Butter Wolf for Charizma’s “Jack the Mack,” from Big Shots…Just sayin’ is all.

BTW – I love(d) BR&L.

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