Any hip-hop artist worth their salt will state that Detroit producer, James Dewitt Yancey aka J Dilla is/was an influence on their genesis as hip-hop artists. For sure in many respects it is hard to cite many producers who have influenced not just a genre but also a generation as imitators the world over ply their creativity in attempts to re-create that Dilla sound.
As with many who have been labelled as innovators of their chosen field, the influence of their talents seems to grow the longer we acknowledge their passing. Dilla’s name resonates with ever louder frequencies as his music and the people who knew him ensure his name stays alive.
So with that small but genuine #itchysilk tribute let’s get the #itchysilk top 3 Dilla bangers-the list is of course not exhaustive and you may not agree and for sure I will look at this list and probably in an hour not agree with myself but that’s the beauty of having a huge discography of certified bangers!
It’s with a real sense of nostalgia that I remember picking up the album Like Water For Chocolate (2000) from Common. As was the case I would literally get small palpitations when buying new vinyl and I remember while listening to The Light in the record shop thinking ‘damn this is fire’. That sample from Bobby Caldwell’s Open Your Eyes (1980) was huge-bit of trivia Bobby Caldwell has been sampled by a huge amount of artists think, Aliyah, 2Pac and Janelle Monae. The sample set the foundation for Common the man with probably one of the best hip-hop voices to lay down his brand of succinct conscious vibes sweet. In fact, if you look at Common’s discography Dilla’s name features very regularly. He of course helped to create that ‘Common motif’ which has made him a firm name within the hip-hop landscape from circa 1992.
SLUM VILLAGE FALL IN LOVE
Our second cut has to be Fall in Love from the second album Fantastic Vol 2 (2000) from Slum Village and it was, ostensibly within this definitive hip-hop outfit that Dilla’s name spread. He was the productive mastermind as it were giving the chance for T3 and Baatin (and occasionally Dilla) to get lyrical. Of course Slum Village unlike groups like A Tribe Called Quest can not have a reunion moment as two thirds of Slum Village have now passed on. It’s a shame because Slum Village was a bonafide hip-hop group of the 90’s but that said sometimes it is good to leave what was great untouched anyway.
LUCY PEARL WITHOUT YOU (J DILLA REMIX)
Lucy Pearl were a big outfit back in the 90’s and again I remember picking up their eponymous album. They were at the time a super group of sorts featuring singer Raphael Saadiq of (Tony, Toni Tone), Ali Shaeed Muhammad producer from A Tribe Called Quest and Dawn Roberts from the powerhouse all female group En Vogue. The original was a funky club smash and while the original is a huge favourite, Dilla manages to take the original and switch it up-more street, big hip-hop beats, deep bass strings laced with just the right amount of attitude-another banger. Incidentally that debut album was the group’s only album so those copies of the album might be a small investment.