The Soul of J Dilla


This entry is first in my series of personal tributes to the Soulquarians, the dopest group of MCs, singers, and musicians to ever rock a mic, turn a knob or hit a drum. They all cross-pollinated each other's projects and to this day represent true artistry to the fullest. These are the artists that inspire the editors of this very music blog.

I loved J Dilla before I knew who he was. That is, I'd always appreciated his sound but never knew the man behind the beats or his full body of work. All I knew was, the joints on my radar at the time had this jazzy, optimistic, ethereal feel to them--but they knocked like Primo tracks. A strategically-placed piano melody or minimal horns were the things that infused his hip-hop beats with soul even if nary a sample was used.

Though I'd grown to eventually associate the moniker "Jay Dee" with the Ummah outfit, I still wasn't aware of his tenure with Slum Village, the Jaylib album or even Welcome 2 Detroit.
By the time it all came together and I (1) realized how much of his
work I actually owned and (2) how unforgivably late I was with the
rest, he left this earth.

The countless DJs, blogs and artists that constantly big-up Dilla's work keep his spirit, sound and soul alive with their mixtapes, tributes and reiterations. By this point, you can find most of his work somewhere online in one form or another and I encourage anyone who hasn't truly felt the reach of this man's music to look it up, listen to it, and buy it.

"The Love" (A Tribe Called Quest); "Nag Champa"
(Common); "Much More" (De La Soul); "Got 'Til It's Gone" (Janet
Jackson); "So Hardcore" (Busta Rhymes); "Ill Vibe" (Busta Rhymes); "The
Rhyme (Remix)" (Keith Murray); "Fall in Love (Remix)" (Slum Village); 
"Thelonius" (Common & SV); "Like It Like That" (ATCQ); "Let's Ride" (Q-Tip)

J. Dilla Soul Sampler [download]

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My Life    Erykah Badu   
Fanatic (Dilla Remix)    Vivian Green
Me & Those Dreaming Eyes Of Mine (Jay Dee Remix)    D'angelo
Got Till It's Gone (Ummah Jay Dee Mix)    Janet Jackson
People Make The World Go Round (J88 Remix)    Innerzone Orchestra
Without You (Jay Dee Remix)    Lucy Pearl
So Far to Go    J Dilla featuring Common & D'Angelo   
Reminisce    Bilal   
Keep On (Feat. Slum Village)    Dwele   
Sometimes (Ummah Remix)    Brand New Heavies   
Dollar    Steve Spacek   
Antiquity    Dwight Trible   
I Believe In You (Jaylib Remix)    Amp Fiddler
Oblighetto (J Dilla Remix)    Jack McDuff   
Think Twice    J Dilla   

Dilla Wafers: Remembering J. Dilla [HHDX]
Discography [Stones Throw]
List of Dilla Tribute Mixes [UPW]

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6 Responses

  1. Can't believe it's been two years.
    My earliest Dilla memory, the First Down 12-inch when he and Phat Kat were a group.
    Then the Labcabincalifornia album.
    Of course the rest is history.
    I remember trading bootleg cassette copies of Fantastic Vol 1 & 2 with cats on Usenet. Wearing out a cassingle of "I Don't Know" while the group bounced from label to label (A&M, Goodvibe, etc. etc.)

  2. Much like yourself, I always knew Dilla's sound, and loved every minute of it ('Runnin' was my first intro.), but it wasnt until much later in his career that I actually became familiar with him as an artist, and saw just how much he meant and contributed to the game. He's definitely missed.

  3. Favorite Jay Dee track: "Stakes Is High" by De La. Still so classic to this day.

  4. Glad to say I got most of those joints. That So Far to Go is HOT.

  5. good list. the sampler is sweet. i first fell in love with the light common, that was my first intro.
    rip dilla

  6. My sentiments exactly. I remember feeling like someone stole from me the day he died...
    "Lets Ride" will never leave my head.
    Rest in Beats


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