Every music producer has their own signature style, especially in hip hop, where a simple scratch, tone or sound can in many cases let you know exactly who is behind the boards. On February 10th 2006 the world lost one of the most prolific and creative artists not just in Hip Hop, but in all of music: James Yancey, a.k.a. Jay Dee, a.k.a. J Dilla. Hailing out of Detroit, Michigan, Dilla is often best known as a member of Slum Village, but he has produced countless tracks both as an individual and as a member of the incredible collective, the Ummah.
Now, when you heard a Dilla track, you knew who the man behind the magic was. Listening to a Dilla beat is akin to a soul searching experience. He could take the simplest sound, the most obscure sample and turn it into something sounding more like a symphony or an orchestra, yet always in a way that was completely original, turning sounds into music that you’ve never heard before. Dilla’s credits read like a list of royalty, working with titans like Janet Jackson, The Roots, Kanye West, Erykah Badu, A Tribe Called Quest, Doom and Common, just to name a few. His impact and music have left a legacy that will outlive us all, and though he was taken from us far too soon, he lives on forever in the hearts, souls and ears of those who loved him and his music.
Here’s a link to a Spotify playlist of some of Dilla’s best work :