Hip Hop

MCM and Dr Paul Nataraj: In memory of J Dilla Show

MCM & Dr Paul Nataraj

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This is a 2hr set dedicated to the legacy of J Dilla.

This radio show was a Hale.London special & broadcasted at 12pm on 6/2/22.

See Playbacks:

Dilla Show Playback Pt 1 Link >

Dilla Show Playback Pt 2 Link >

James Dewitt Yancey (February 7, 1974 – February 10, 2006), better known by his stage names J Dilla and Jay Dee, was an American record producer and rapper from Detroit, Michigan. He emerged from the mid-1990s underground hip hop scene as a member of Slum Village. Yancey worked as a record producer for acts including A tribe called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Common, De La Soul, Erykah Badu, and The Pharcyde, The Roots.

Hailed as a modern genius, sampling virtuoso, and the Mozart of hip-hop, J Dilla was one of the most influential hip-hop producers of all time.

Yancey is known for his eclectic method of production and consistent advancements in his style. He serves as an inspiration to countless hip-hop musicians, and his legacy will forever be prevalent in hip-hop music today.

In his career, James Dewitt Yancey aka Jay Dee aka J Dilla accomplished more in terms of recorded output than most artists do in a lifetime. From producing GRAMMY award-winning songs to earning the adulation of his peers and creating a signature sound that altered hip hop and soul music forever, Jay did it all while being the most influential underground producer in the business. At a time when hip hop producers were more recognisable than the artists they worked with, Jay shunned the limelight and humbly revolutionised the sound of hip hop with his meticulous, soulful productions.

Jay was a stylistic innovator who was never content to stay in the same pocket. From the airy Fender Rhodes and handclaps that defined his early sound with Slum Village and Tribe, to the eclectic genre-melding of Welcome to Detroit and the back-to-the-breaks style of Donuts, his music continually evolved at a dizzying pace. Once a particular style was mastered, he felt little need to repeat himself, preferring to push boundaries beyond what was expected or easy for him. Unlike so many innovators who wouldn’t recover from their work being co-opted and commercialised, Jay never ceased to experiment and push his music to new heights.

Combined with his sheer wizardry on the sampler, this artistic restlessness placed Jay at the vanguard of hip hop production where he was viewed as the “producers producer,” someone who fellow musicians looked to for inspiration. Pharrell declared him his ‘favorite producer’. Kanye called him a ‘drum god’. Questlove stated that Jay’s music was the only thing to ‘give him goosebumps in the last ten years.’ His sound distilled the best qualities of hip hop into a potent mixture that encapsulated where hip hop production had been and pointed to where it would head in the future. Along the way, Jay stood at the forefront reminding everybody to “Turn It Up!”.

Yancey spent his final months creating the album Donuts which was released on 7 February 2006. The album was mostly created at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he received treatment for his illnesses. Yancey passed away three days after its release from the age of thirty-two.

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