It’s a Celebration! J Dilla: 5 Years Later – A.D. (After Dilla)
J Dilla Week, Day 5
Good morn’ or evening, friends. J Dilla Week has finally reached it’s climax here at the Well-Dressed Headphone Addict Music Blog. The previous four days honored the various facets and stages of the late James Dewitt Yancey, aka Jay Dee. It all started on Monday, February 7th, Jay’s birthday and went through to yesterday, February 10th, the fifth anniversary of his death. During that time, his works were showcased and celebrated, and today is the culimination of that celebritory attitude.
February 7th: The Hits
February 8th: The Rare
February 9th: The Remixes
February 10th: Solo Beats
February 11th: A.D. (After Dilla)
Day 5 – A.D. (After Dilla)
Jay Dee’s death was impending to those who knew him and his faithful fans, however it didn’t remove the heartache that came when he finally did leave this world. Tears flowed, and some still mourn him even after five years, but with tragedy comes triumph. Singers, rappers, producers and DJs alike all paid tributes to Jay Dee in droves after he died. From album interludes, to full on songs, to mixtapes and even symphonies, artists of numerous genres and backgrounds all paid their respects in their own loving ways. Not only that, but J Dilla’s extensive back catalog of beats have found their ways onto major releases, both for other artists and his own postumous solo CDs. And now, to end J Dilla Week on its proper note, here are the tributes:
“Hall & Oates (Just a Wednesday)” – The Roots (Tribute)
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, drummer and band leader of The Roots, was one of J Dilla’s biggest fans and most frequent collaborator, as a fellow member of the Soulquarians collective. The Roots, who’s 1997 song “Dynamite” was produced by Jay Dee, recorded a mixtape to honor him, called Dilla Jawns (Jawns in lieu of “joints”).
“Move” – Q-Tip (Produced by Dilla)
Dilla was a workaholic, so it wasn’t surprising that he had a back log of beats in the vaults at the time of his death. One of those songs, “Dancin’ Dilla,” was a notorious internet leak, featuring a quirky sampling of The Jackson 5’s “Dancing Machine,” causing Michael Jackson’s vocal ad-libs to sound like regurgitating. Q-Tip, one third of The Ummah, which included him, Dilla and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, took that beat and put his own rhymes over it, re-naming it “Move.” Q-Tip’s take on the track was a centerpiece on his 2008 album, The Renaissance.
“Step Up” – Busta Rhymes and Mick Boogie (Tribute)
On day two of this week’s Dilla tribute, it was stated that rapper Busta Rhymes had more albums with Jay Dee beats (six) than any one artists during his life. That prolific output continued with Dillagence, Busta’s mixtape with DJ Mick Boogie of new rhymes from Busta over unreleased Dilla tracks.
“Love” – Erykah Badu (Produced by Dilla)
Grammy winning singer Erykah Badu was highly affected by her friendship and work with J Dilla on her sophomore album, Mama’s Gun. Her first album after his death, New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) in 2008, was filled with numerous Dilla beats, tributes and references. The sequel, 2010’s New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ahkn), Badu wrote lyrics to a Jay Dee beat, fittingly entitled, “Love.”
“Take Notice” – Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and his Orchestra (Tribute)
In one of the most creative, ambitious formats to date, conductor Miguel Atwood-Ferguson arranged and performed “Suite For Ma Dukes” in 2009 (Ma Dukes” is Jay’s mother), a classical interpretation of Dilla’s beats throughout his life. Atwood-Ferguson covered every aspect of Jay Dee’s career, from Slum Village’s “Fantastic” to De La Soul’s “Stakes is High,” and “Take Notice,” a track from his 2003 EP Ruff Draft.
“History” – Mos Def featuring Talib Kweli (Tribute)
Blackstar MCs Mos Def and Talib Kweli were familiar with J Dilla’s genius first hand, as they each were produced by Jay Dee as solo artists. While not officially a Blackstar track, “History,” from Mos Def’s latest LP, The Ecstatic, captured the magic felt during the two’s only album together as a duo. Masterfully sampling Mary Wells’ “Two Lover’s History,” the song is the shortest on the album, and also the best.”
This concludes J Dilla Week for the Well-Dressed Headphone Addict. I hope you enjoyed it, bobbed your heads, shed some tears and learned a little something. If nothing else, I hope you took this time to appreciate the work of an artist who was truly one of a kind. Rest in Peace, James. No need to say goodbye, because your music makes you immortal.
Thank you for listening, and always remember: Black Americans may only be one tenth of America’s population, but that tenth is talented.