Like the rest of the hip-hop nation, URB mourns the passing of J Dilla … and more importantly, celebrates his Life. In these pages, those that knew James Yancey reflect on the man himself, his creative passion and the wealth of musical inspiration he left behind.
J Dilla was a producer that helped pave the way for the newest style of soulful hip-hop production. He's helped entertain so many people and so many people will never even know he produced the beat.
–CESAR COMANCHE, MC FOR THE JUSTUS LEAGUE
I want to thank you, J Dilla, for being a constant source of inspiration for all of us. It's a shame that you had to go, but somehow I think you knew you didn't have much time and that's why you always worked so tirelessly. Your contributions go deeper. than music, and I apprecate that and I want to do the same. I miss you, and I look forward to seeing you again.
–WAAJEED, PRODUCER FOR PLATINUM PIED PIPERS
If it wasn't for Dilla and Slum Village I probably wouldn't be doing beats right now he's inspired and influenced me more than any other artist I've ever listened to … and I'm just glad that I had the chance to work with him on different projects and it was an honor when I heard him spit a verse over one of my tracks … so I will hold those memories foreva.
–BLACK MILK, PRODUCER AND SLUM VILLAGE COLLABORATOR
He was one of the few producers who was good enough to have all the most important artists in soul and hip-hop constantly knocking on his door. The first time he called me, I had to pinch myself. He went out of his way to work with Madlib and Stones Throw at a time when he didn't have to and for that, I'm forever thankful. He told me "I'm gonna take y'all on a ride, Wolf" and that's exactly what he did.
–PEANUT BUTTER WOLF, PRODUCER AND OWNER OF STONES THROW RECORDS
Dilla believed in me and my nigga when no one else did and that's as real as it gets. I'm honored he was a part of my album and even had time to fit me in his busy schedule to smoke a blunt. He will definitely be missed but not forgotten.
–OH NO, MC
"Turn It Up," "Bounce" yeah, the dancehall cries of J Dilla… but he spoke to us silently in between the hi-hats and the delay of the clap, da off-beat- on-beat kick, to cause our necks to almost snap.
Just to be in the presence of a genius. I learned from him and applied it to what I was doing. He taught me never to stop. And I learned to record in one take. Cuz that's where the magic is, it's the only way to capture the energy.
–PHAT KAT, MC
Dilla was an original, a Detroit original, whose lack of pomp belied his monumental ability. His persona was classic Detroit: a hard-working, humble machinist, whose pride lay in his craft. He created a new language of production, and in the process invented Detroit hip-hop, free from the trappings of marketing or image. In a silent way, he changed music, without having to proclaim its change, as genius moves stealthily.
–SAM VALENTI, OWNER OF GHOSTLY INTERNATIONAL
I witnessed some amazing moments – the flurry of music back and forth between he and Madlib that resulted in Jaylib, his performances in front of thousands of people all over the continent, his ever-evolving and never-less-than-genius music. And I never, not once, lost the feeling that I had that first day: that I was simply blessed to be in his presence.
–EGON, LABEL MANAGER FOR STONES THROW RECORDS
One thing that truly amazed me about J Dilla is his ability to pull sounds from certain samples and make a whole new song – if you ever decided to do some detective work to hear what samples he used, you'd be left scratching your head wondering how he did it. He had tricks people won't ever be able to figure out.
–TARA DUVIVIER, PROMOTER FOR RAREFORMS. NY
Great talent playing for God now.
–MR. EON, MC FOR HIGH & MIGHTY
J Dilla is the dude we can all thank, for forcing every single producer in "urban American" music to get their weight up on the drum programming and sampling creativity. There's no two ways about that. I remember when that early SV Fantastic demo hit the streets and it was like the crack epidemic all over again.
–RICH MEDINA, DJ, POET, PRODUCER
He was everybody's Moses. Ahmir (?uestlove of The Roots) even said it. He said, "I lost my Moses."
–EDDIE BAZALEL, BBE US LABEL REP
His amazingly long list of production credits, the fact that he was the only other producer besides Kanye on Common's Be, which many consider a classic, and the high regard he was held in by peers like Pharrell and ?uestlove show how talented he was. It's too bad rumored collabos like J Dilla and Jay-Z will never happen now.
–TOSHITAKA KONDO, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR FOR VIBE MAGAZINE
He created a million beautiful masterpieces He inspired a million wannabes … He left us way too soon … He will be missed.
–JACK DAVEY, SINGER FOR J*DAVEY
It's been amazing to see the amount of musicians, fans and friends who are stepping up to pay their respects – this man has clearly touched so many. Whether or not the masses know it now, those of us who were affected by J. Yancey know that he goes down in history as one of the best .
–TYLER ASKEW, DJ-PROMOTER RUDE MOVEMENTS
Dilla was the greatest beatmaker of our time. His sound and style influenced and inspired so deeply that he singlehandedly changed the sound of hip-hop and soul music.
–MARK DE CLIVE LOWE, PRODUCER, KEYBOARDIST
He has made an impression on music that will be felt for many years. Many producers owe a lot to Dilla.
–IAN DAVIS, MANAGER OF HIEROGLYPHICS IMPERIUM