R.I.P. Dilla Dawg (February 7, 1974–February 10, 2006)

Dilla Can't Be Stopped
Saying two can win, well, I don’t agree. You call Dilla the G.O.A.T. before you holla at me.”
– Skyzoo
Unfortunately, losing amazing artists unexpectedly is something you have to get used to in Hip Hop. Many are taken by the gun, some by overdoses, few by natural causes, and one by Lupus. James “J-Dilla” Yancey was one of the greatest Hip Hop producers the game has ever seen. His discography is awe inspiring and his influence on today’s producers can easily be seen. I could go on and on about Jay Dee; the samples he flipped, his timing, his versatility. But I don’t need to, because his music can speak much louder than any words can. If you’re not up on Dilla, I suggest at least checking out the Thank You Jay Dee Podcasts mixed by J Rocc (go to iTunes, search Stones Throw Podcast, and then download Act 3 for free). It is an impossible task, and I’m mad I had to put myself through it, but I compiled a list of my top ten J Dilla songs. Click the song titles to listen/download.
My Top Ten J Dilla Productions/Songs
1. Fall-N-Love – Whenever I’m in a bad mood I just throw this on. This song always calms me, and for that reason it is my favorite Dilla production. In my opinion Fantastic Vol. 2 was his best work.
2. Nag Champa (Orchestral Mix) – It was Hip Hop’s destiny that one of the best emcees paired up with one of the best producers. Nag Champa is perfect, and the only way it could’ve been better is if an orchestra accompanied it or something. Well…lucky for us Carlos Niño and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson did just that. Paired together, this is one of the most beautiful musical compositions.
3. Climax (Girl Shit) – Another laid back joint off of Fantastic Vol. 2. Dilla could create vibes with his music that no other producer could. It was like he was telling you exactly how to react to songs…
4. Runnin’ – Dilla always knew who to get on his beats. It was all about chemistry, and The Pharcyde had undeniable chemistry with Jay Dee. There are so many aspects to this song, which just show the versatility of Dilla. One beat could sound real simple yet well crafted, while another one could sound very complex yet it blended perfectly.
5. The Look Of Love – This is one of the beats that sounds real simple, yet is well crafted. It just flows. Dilla’s beats sound so effortless some times.
6. Find A Way – Another group that shared great chemistry with Dilla is A Tribe Called Quest. It was like Dilla knew exactly how the beat needed to sound for Quest’s lyrics and the Tribe knew exactly how the lyrics needed to sound for Dilla’s beats. Find A Way is a perfect example of this.
7. Stakes Is High – Yet another group…maybe it’s just that Dilla brings the best out of every emcee he works with. This is another example of a really complex and intricate beat.
8. Crushin’ – You can’t help but nod ya head to this one. Just a great song. Not only did Dilla have a keen sense of production, but he always knew how to flow over his own beats.
9. It’s Your World – From the start of this beat you know you’re in for something good. A lot of Dilla’s best work (ex: Voodoo, Electric Circus) is when he’s collaborating with other producers. On this beat he was assisted by James Poyser & Karriem Riggins. Tailoring the beat for the emcee is something Dilla mastered. This song fit Com’s style perfectly.
10. As Serious As Your Life Is (Jay Dee Remix) – A lot of people haven’t heard this song. It’s a remix of a Four Tet song and it features Guilty Simpson. Just another great composition by Jay Dee.
You have no idea how impossible that was. Not only is it hard to describe these songs (that’s like describing the meaning of life), but I have over 500 Dilla songs (that’s nothing compared to some people) and narrowing them down to 10 is a task that can never be complete. I’m already looking over this list and double guessing my selections. I just hope that this entry can put some people on to J Dilla because, in my opinion, he is the greatest producer of all time yet doesn’t get the credit and respect he deserves.
R.I.P. J Dilla, you are greatly missed.

2 Responses to “R.I.P. Dilla Dawg (February 7, 1974–February 10, 2006)”

  1. 1 adillamdcc
    February 11, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Good list to read, and props on introducing the newer one to JDilla. “Find A Way” was my joint back in 2000. I use to bump that on my radio every day from my Grammy Awards CD I’ve brought, I think I wore it out because of that one song.

  2. February 14, 2008 at 4:55 am

    Great post…I’m guilty of not being familiar w/ Dilla’s work before his untimely death but now am amazed by his work. The orchestral mix of “Nag Champa” is out of this world. Your blog is off to a great start and I’m really enjoying your writing and thoughts on hip hop. Keep it up and I look forward to reading weekly. I started my blog a couple months ago and it’s kinda all over the place. I really haven’t found the direction I want it to go since I’m into a lot of the stuff you seem to like but also enjoy the mixtape and mashup culture of it. But anyways, if you have time check it out and maybe you’ll find something you enjoy.

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