Reading this phenomenal book about J Dilla. It’s so powerful.
I remember listening to some of his Slum Village tracks back in the early 2000s, thinking “this one was dope but this one is a joke, right?”. I was frustrated by the hype and either great delivery about the hype or very underwhelming content. The book explains why this was like that.
I’ve been listening to Robert Glasper plays J Dilla (with Chris Dave on drums) a lot since last year. A phenomenal live performance (Boiler room in NYC, gone from YouTube but I have my mp3s). Shout out to T3.
I’ve been making beat-heavy music for 20+ years. Playing bass every day for 25+. Always had a drummer playing in my head since I was a kid and heard my first snares, hi hats and kicks live.
Dilla is from Detroit, a city with a French name and tons of French culture artifacts because it was founded by French missionaries.
Detroit is Motor City (the car life in L.A.), Motown (one of the biggest achievement ever in Black America), P-Funk (ever bigger than Motown to me), and Techno (so absolutely massive in 90s Europe, where I was at that time).
He was fascinated by Brazilian music, its polyrhythms, textures and harmonics. Me too (that’s why there’s timbales in my latest below).
He moved to L.A. in Hancock Park. I live a short bicycle ride away from there. He also was in Silver Lake with Stones Throw Records, who’s head is Peanut Butter Wolf who I recognized in the restroom of the Cinerama Dome during the premiere of Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest. Dilla also connected with Madlib and Little Brother, both acts that I adored in the 2000s.
I barely listen to any hip-hop.
The Pharcyde’s Bullshit track is probably the first hip-hop track that I truly loved to death. Labcabincalifornia is one of the best ever (shout out to Booty Brown and Diamond D).
In 2014 I was living next to Delicious Pizza, created by the Delicious Records guys, who produced Labcabincalifornia. I got to chat with the Ross brothers. They had a couple block parties and I got to hear Slimkid3 and Fatlip spitting live from my roof while bopping heads with friends.
I could never stand Jay-Z, Puff and Kanye’s stuff. I was annoyed that they were so huge. I wanted Dilla’s Elastic SoulFunk to dominate.
I wanted Dilla to do more soul. Ain’t nothing wrong with keeping doing something great. All the hard, tech, dirty beats didn’t stand the test of time, all his soulful ones did and are even stronger now.
The insanity of the music business in the early 2000s. The label consolidation really ruined so many careers. Had Dilla been in the Bandcamp era, he would have been eating vegan donuts making beats from his Detroit basement, fully independent, money going straight to his account, the way he wanted it.
The sad because so common tale of a man not caring about much while women take care of EVERYTHING around his ass. smdh.
I waited. I avoided music labels, baby mamas and homies telling you how you should line up your life.
But the connection is deeper than I want to recognize. My head is heavy with creative, musical, undone things that I want to lay down in notes and rhythms.
Many in Dilla Time.
It’s just funny how things float around, sometimes.