Fev 05, 2021


Carlos Tico FOTO: Stones Throw / B+ Photography, © OTHER / BRIAN “B+” CROSS

February is a very representative month for those who love the Hip-Hop culture, especially for if you are a fan of J Dilla, who today is more alive than ever before. Music producer, DJ, rapper, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, perhaps one of the most influential, genius, visionary and prolific artists in the history of the music industry, the native of Detroit, Michigan, birthplace of soul music and rhythm and blues in the United States, rhythms and genres that clearly influenced and guided their beats. Yesterday, February 7, Dilla would be 47 years old, a date that also marks the 15th anniversary of 'Donuts', his most acclaimed album, and the next 10th of February, is the 15th year since his death.

Because of everything that J Dilla represents to culture, and perhaps the artist with the most soul, sensitivity and virtue in RAP music and who always released a large array of emotions through his beats,  the DILLA MONTH has been institutionalized as a live celebration , a whole month full of tributes and celebrations around the world to preserve J Dilla's work, memory and legacy.

J DILLA in 2003 holding the classic “The Listening” of Little Brother (Photo: Reproduction)

J Dilla had passion, technique, sophistication and simplicity, a soft-spoken guy with an incredible work ethic and production. It made him unique. Very few artists have managed to bring these elements together in such a consistent, deep and vigorous way. Even though Jay Dee acted so ubiquitously in the musical universe, and that in fact all this cult and true recognition was only achieved after his departure for another life horizon. Dilla's death had a significant impact on the Hip-Hop community. In addition to countless tribute tracks and concerts in his honor, Dilla's death created an enormous array of interest in his catalog and, consequently, J Dilla's influence on Hip-Hop production became much more apparent and represented.

The custom Minimoog Voyager built for J Dilla by Dr. Robert Moog (simply the inventor of the synthesizer), And his classic Akai MPC 3000, which since 2013 has been part of the collection of the National Museum of African American Art and Culture of the Smithsonian Institute, which is one of the most renowned in the USA. (Photo: Reproduction)

Fifteen years after the death of J Dilla, due to a rare blood disease related to lupus ... DJs, producers, rappers and fans still marvel at his - as The New York Times called it - "meticulous style, but casual". You don't even have to listen very carefully to understand the way his work continues to shape and influence music to this day. The concept of invention and creating something out of nothing is what distinguishes Hip-Hop from other musical styles. One of J Dilla's greatest qualities was that he was constantly reinventing his style and his way of working to find new forms of expression.

Detroit talented keyboardist and music producer Amp Fiddler, who has worked with names like George Clinton and Funkadelic, Prince, Jamiroquai, Fishbone, among others. In 1992 Jay Dee met Amp Fiddler, who let the young producer use his Akai MPC and taught him sample programming and electronic drums, from which Jay Dee quickly acquired full mastery. It was Amp Fiddler who introduced Jay Dee to Q-Tip, during the 1994 Lollapalooza drummers in California, where George Clinton and Funkadelic shared the same stage with ATCQ in a performance. Tip was impressed by Jay Dee's productions. Many say that J Dilla's special touch humanized the Akai MPC300, and the rest is known history. (Photo: Reproduction)

Many admirers describe how Jay Dee was discreetly influential, preferring a modest and far-from-mainstream artistic trajectory that shunned media attention. Although Dilla may not have been a big hit or appeared on magazine covers during his career, he had a list of productions and credits that included heavyweights like De La Soul, Common, A Tribe Called Quest, Erykah Badu, The Roots and Talib Kweli. Not to mention his uncredited work with artists like Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes and D’Angelo.

J DILLA, in his home in Conant Gardens, Detroit - 2003 (PHOTO: B+)

Still, J Dilla, born James Yancey, ended up becoming best known for his solo work, such as the 2001 Welcome 2 Detroit albums, his debut solo album, and 2006 Donuts, his latest release in life, that put the virtuosity and idiosyncrasy on an equal level and footing. The lush and heavy grooves show the ubiquitous versus the esoteric, creating an unmistakable and super experimental sound that no one has been able to reproduce over the years.

Part J Dilla's record collection at his former Detroit home (Photo: Reproduction)

J Dilla and his daughter Ja'Mya, 2005 (Photo: Raph Rashid)

J Dilla in 2004, very ill getting ready to play the drums, the musical instrument that synthesized his work as a producer. (Photo: Roger Erickson)

Having such a rich production between what he created and produced for himself and others, it is difficult to filter just about everything. We made a compilation, a list of 30 records with great Jay Dee productions that you need and must listen to. We could call them J Dilla's top 30 records, but that statement could trigger a war or more (((laughs!))). So, instead, let's say that these are the 30 essential records to understand J Dilla's work. The list is a bit long, nevertheless it is worth checking out and getting to know a little more about J Dilla and all the magnitude and immensity of his work.

1 - The Pharcyde - "Labcabincalifornia" (1995)

With production and instrument credits on 6 out of  the 17 tracks, The Pharcyde's second album represents Jay Dee's first major release. Although not as loved and adored as Pharcyde's debut album, "Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde" from 1992, it is still essential for fans of Dilla and The Pharcyde. Two of his most classic productions are included as the album's main singles, “Runnin’ ”, a sample of the beautiful Bossa Nova classic“ Saudade vem Correndo ”, from the Jazz Samba Encore album! by Stan Getz and Luiz Bonfá, J Dilla was one of the first Hip-Hop producers to sample Brazilian music, and the sensational “Drop” that contains one of the most original music videos of the 90s directed by Spike Jonze, and later a remix of the track "She Said". J Dilla's involvement with Labcabincalifornia came at the suggestion of the leader of A Tribe Called Quest Q-Tip, who would play an important role in introducing J Dilla into the world of Hip-Hop, as well as in the development of his career.

2 - 1st DOWN – “A Day Wit' The Homies EP - 12" single” (1995)

1st Down was a hip-hop group from Detroit composed by Jay Dee and rapper Phat Kat. The duo signed with Payday Records in 1995 and released an album, called "A Day Wit 'The Homies", before breaking up as a group due to problems with the label. They again came together for the album “Phat Kat's Dedication to the Suckers” in 1999, which was produced entirely by Jay Dee. Some of his additional collaborations between Jay Dee and Phat Kat can be found in Slum Village's “Fan-Tas-Tic (Vol. 1)”, Jay Dee's “Welcome 2 Detroit” and both of Phat Kat's solo albums, “ The Undeniable LP ”and“ Carte Blanche”.

3 - Mad Skillz – “From Where???” (1996)

Detroit rapper Mad Skillz was the first artist to officially record a Jay Dee song. It was Q-Tip who introduced Jay Dee to Mad Skillz in 1994. Jay Dee took to the studio on the recordings of FROM WHERE ??? - Mad Skillz's debut album released in 1996, a tape with the beats of “Runnin '”, “Drop” and “Somethin' That Means Somethin '” for The Pharcyde, who at the time was in the studio starting the recordings of the already listed previously Labcabincalifornia from 1995. On the same tape there were two beats for Busta Rhymes' debut solo album - The Coming (1996) and two more beats for Mad Skillz - “The Jam” and “It's Goin Down”, the latter sounds a lot similar to Runnin ', where Jay Dee sampled the song “Boa Palavra” by Sérgio Mendes from the album Favorite Things from 1968. The producer once again showed all the strength and diversity of Brazilian music, the rest is history. Listen FROM WHERE ???, it's a great album particularly speaking, in addition to the productions of J Dilla and Mad Skillz himself, the work contains productions by Shawn J. Period, DJ Clark Kent, Buckwild, Large Professor, The Beatnuts, Diallo, EZ Elpee! Not to mention that Mad Skillz is a hell of a MC and has a brilliant mind.

4 - De La Soul – "Stakes Is High" (1996)

"Stakes Is High" is the main track and also titled the fourth album by the power trio De La Soul, the group's first work without the collaboration of mentor and producer DJ Prince Paul. The chopped three loop chores  (Dilla has always liked three and five bar loops) taken from the theme "Swahililand" from the jazz master Jamal Plays Jamal's 1974 album, Ahmad Jamal, is considered one of J Dilla's greatest productions of all time . In an interview on Juan Epstein's popular podcast The Hip-Hop Heads, the members of De La Soul revealed that they basically had to trick Q-Tip in order to guarantee the beat for the group. If you are not a fan of collecting singles, the complete album is mandatory for fans of classic Hip-Hop, despite being the only track on the album produced by J Dilla, who also handled the remix of the song, where The Plugs counted on the sure participation of Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def.

5 - A Tribe Called Quest ‎– "Beats, Rhymes And Life" (1996)

Soon after Stakes Is High came the fourth album from A Tribe Called Quest. Like Labcabincalifornia, Dilla played an important role in this release, receiving credits on one third of the tracks. Although the album's production was officially credited to The Ummah (music production collective formed by J Dilla, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and occasionally Raphael Saadiq and D'Angelo), if you read the fine print (written in the credits section of the album), you can find out exactly which tracks Dilla produced, including the album's two singles, “1nce Again” and “Stressed Out”. ATCQ's next album, The Love Movement 1998, deserves an honorable mention, with Jay Dee being credited on about half of the album, including the classic main single "Find a Way".

6 - THE KATZ – “Come Fly With Me” (1996)

The Katz was an all-female Hip-Hop and R&B group from Detroit, which released their single album called "Come Fly With Me" on a small local independent label around the same time as 5-Ela (5-Elementz) and Slum Village were starting to move around the city. Jay Dee was an important figure in Detroit's growing Hip-Hop scene in the early and second half of the 1990s, and as the producer was involved in the project while producing the respective demos and premieres for all of these groups. Out of the eight tracks on the album that was released only on cassette, Jay Dee produced three, while his friend DJ Dez, a well-known name in the Hip-Hop scene "D", produced most of the others. I was not lucky to find the album in its entirety, however, only two of the three tracks produced by Jay Dee are on YouTube; "Happy Dayz" and "Funny" are Jay Dee productions from the early 90s, a very raw and heavy sound, but Jay Dee's trademark drumming is unmistakable. Mandatory registration for Dilla fans and much more interesting than many of the things produced later.

7 - Da Bush Babees – “Gravity” – “Gravity” (1996)

At a time when James Yancey was still known as Jay Dee and a member of The Ummah, he blessed Brooklyn's underground Hip-Hop group Da Bush Babees with an adorable "pralem" composition for the title track of his second LP, “Gravity” released in 1996.  Particularly speaking I really like this album from beginning to end.

8 - Busta Rhymes - “When Disaster Strikes” – “So Hardcore” (1997)

Busta Rhymes has always cited Jay Dee's production for his second studio album, “So Hardcore”, as one of his favorite tracks produced by Dilla, which includes a sample of the track “Go to Hail” from the celebrated New York debut album from New York of Black Sheep. Despite making an appearance with The Ummah on only one track on the album, the release received much commercial success and praise from music critics.

9 - Janet Jackson – “Got Til It’s Gone” (Ummah Jay Dee’s Revenge Remix) (1997)

I'm not going to make any claims to be a Janet Jackson fan, but I absolutely love this song. I would never have imagined that the combination of Jacko's most famous and talented sister, Q-Tip, and J Dilla would make for an R&B classic. Not only does Janet and Q-Tip bring the best of both to the song, but Dilla does what seems impossible and manages to transform a song by folk singer Joni Mitchell into something totally hip-hop style. I remember reading somewhere, however, that there was a bit of controversy around this track, since Janet Jackson received producer credits and J Dilla did not, hence the remix title. But with all of Dilla's trademarks on the track, no one would mistake that sound for anyone other than Jay Dee.

10 - 5 Elementz - “The Album Time Forgot EP” (1998)

5-Elementz was a group formed in Detroit in 1992. The members met while studying at Osborn High School at 7 Mile. The original members consisted of Thyme, Mudd, the legendary Proof (D12) who would later become a great partner of Eminem, Jay Dee and DJ Head. All of the great tracks on the album were produced by Jay Dee and were only released on cassette in late 1998. As the name of the record suggests, in fact a lost tapes, the album was forgotten by time and very few J Dilla fans really know you. The fact is that the production followed a line similar to what was being produced in part of New York at the time. Essential album to understand Jay Dee's early career. In 2017, the Chopped Herring Records label had access to the original studio masters and released this great album and the “Yester Years album 1993-1994”, which was also released only on cassette in 1996. You got to listen to it!

11 - The Roots – "Things Fall Apart" (1999)

It was in Things Fall Apart that Jay Dee's journey into The Soulquarians began - and what a start! The punctuation of the track "Dynamite" is a good example of the rhythmic techniques that made Questlove fall in love with Dilla. Roots never sounded like a jazz ensemble after Jay Dee's midas touch. Elsewhere on the same album; Jay Dee, The Roots, Erykah Badu and Eve (with assistance from Jill Scott) earned the jewel "You Got Me", which gave the group their first Grammy, being awarded as the Rap song of the year.

12 - Q-Tip – "Amplified" (1999)

Amplified is Q-Tip's debut solo album, produced and released after the dissolution of A Tribe Called Quest. Both Q-Tip and Jay Dee handled most of the album's production, which contains two DJ Scratch productions. The content and atmosphere of Amplified is entirely geared to the vibe of the tracks with seriously funky and soulful beats. Jay Dee worked to create a captivating soundscape on which Q-Tip casts its traditionally abstract rhymes. The album itself is a great demonstration of J Dilla's versatility as a producer. Q-Tip himself is, of course, an incredible producer as well. We will probably never know who did what in the shared production credits, but you can hear the touch of Q-Tip and Dilla in Amplified, and as a joint force, their music is almost perfect. It’s worth highlighting those singles and classics from the early 2000s “Vibrant Thing” and “Breathe and Stop”.

13 - Common – "Like Water For Chocolate" (2000)

In the years between Beats, Rhymes And Life and Like Water For Chocolate, Jay Dee continued to provide productions and remixes for other artists, including Busta Rhymes, Keith Murray and Janet Jackson, both singularly credited and as part of The Ummah. The first singles officially released by their group Slum Village started to appear during this period as well. Like Water For Chocolate marked the official formation of The Soulquarians, collective formed by Questlove, Jay Dee, D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, James Poyser (who collaborated extensively in the production of the album), Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, Bilal , Pino Palladino and Roy Hargrove completed the collective work. It was Common's fourth studio album and was considered a commercial and critical breakthrough for the artist. Jay Dee was credited for nearly three-quarters of the album, including the lead single the classic “The Light”, a sample of the unmistakable “Oper Your Eyes” by Blue-eyed soul Bobby Caldwell.

The Soulquarians (Photo courtesy Red Bull Music Academy Daily, year of 2000)

DJ Premier, D 'Angelo, Jay Dee, Alan Alchemist and in the background recording engineer Russell “Dragon” Elevado, during the recording sessions of D' Angelo's acclaimed album “Voodoo” at the legendary Electric Lady Studios in NY, 1998. Although he was not credited as a Voodoo producer, J Dilla's profound influence on the project is noticeable from beginning to end, both in the design and instrumentation of this masterpiece. (Photo: Reproduction)

“Voodoo”, released in January 2000, is D ’Angelo’s second studio album, considered the artist’s peak and one of the most important releases of R&B and Neo Soul, also marked one of Soulquarians Era’s best career moments.

14 – SLUM VILLAGE – “Fantastic, Vol.2” (2000)

Released a few months after Like Water For Chocolate, Fantastic, Vol. 2 is the super polished version of Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1, which was first released on the tapes circuit in 1997. With the work of other members of the group T3 and the late Baatin, Vol. 2 includes updated versions of Vol. 1 tracks, as well as previously unreleased tracks. Vol. 2 represents the first widely released title featuring Jay Dee in the entirety of an album as the complete artist he was: producer, composer, musician, rapper and MC. Featuring J Dilla classics such as "Players", "Raise It Up" and "Fall In Love". Pete Rock and D ’Angelo signed two productions for Fantastic, Vol. 2, which also featured the participation of Q-Tip, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Kurupt and Busta Rhymes. Essential listening for any fan and enthusiast of J Dilla's work, you simply can’t skip those.

15 - J-88 – “Best Kept Secret EP” (2000)

Best Kept Secret is a J-88 album (a nickname for Slum Village). Released before Jay Dee's departure from Slum Village, the album has been described as the missing link between the acclaimed Fan-Tas-Tic, Vol. 1 and Fantastic, Vol. 2, and includes some exclusive remixes from Madlib and the London-based producer of broken beat IG Culture. Although much of the material had not been released previously, two of the tracks, "The Look Of Love Pt. 1" and "Keep It On", remain largely unchanged from the versions found in Fan-Tas-Tic, Vol. 1. It was released in very limited quantities at the time and was not available to the general public.

16 - Erykah Badu – “Mama’s Gun” (2000)

Jay Dee and the Soulquarians continued on the Grammy path when he worked with Erykah Badu on his second album for Motown Records. Their first collaboration: “Didn Don't Cha Know”, which was nominated for a Grammy in the category of best R&B music of the year. The song started with a random selection by Badu from Jay Dee's record collection at his Detroit home studio. It was Common who introduced Jay Dee to Badu. “I'm looking through these neat and well-packed boxes, and I just took out a record, and the artist was Tarika Blue,” Badu recalled years later. "I liked that name." He quickly repeated a part of the first track, “Dreamflower” produced by Roy Ayers, and Badu started writing. Both also collaborated on the dramatic “My Life and“ Kiss Me on My Neck (Hesi) ”. Six years later, when interviewed shortly after J Dilla's funeral, Badu credited his generosity for shaping his musical growth: "He is responsible for a piece of my heart."


17 – BLACK STAR (Mos Def e Talib Kweli) “Little Brother” (2000)

Trapped in Detroit during a snowstorm, Questlove witnessed the birth of this crash, which was an extraordinarily laborious task for Jay Dee. Dilla sampled the song “Ain't Got Time” by Roy Ayers, the same sample used by his idol Pete Rock in “In The House” from the album from the times of partnership with C.L. Smooth “The Main Ingredient” from 1994. Dilla spent time dividing the bass line into a “just for practice” loop and then discarded it, but Talib Kweli somehow managed to get the beat CD, and it became a big highlight of the excellent soundtrack of the film “The Hurricane” starring Denzel Washington. But the real star of that song was Dilla Dawg.


18 - Guru’s Jazzmatazz featuring Bilal – Certified (2000)

Even those inclined to criticize the already canvious Guru's Jazzmatazz series for its third volume, with the dubious subtitle “Streetsoul”, but Jay Dee has infused the franchise with new vigor with a contagious beat, which manages to anchor the vocals even when they threaten to stay a little confused. "Certified" had the participation of Bilal, friend and partner Jay Dee at Soulquarias, which for many is the biggest "chorus" of Hip-Hop (((laughs!))). Many are unaware of this collaboration between J Dilla and the legendary Gang Starr foundation, Guru. Be sure to listen to it!

19 - Jay Dee aka J Dilla ‎– “Welcome 2 Detroit” (2001)

Dilla's first solo album, and the start of the transition from the name Jay Dee to J Dilla and the first release of the Beat Generation series by the British label BBE. Producing this work entirely, in addition to playing various instruments and rhyming on several of the tracks, Dilla really opened up and flapped his wings here. Welcome 2 Detroit includes a spectacular cover of Donald Byrd's “Think Twice” as well as incursions into Latin, African and techno rhythms. The album also features the first appearances of many Detroit artists who have gained prominence and attention in the Hip-Hop scene and neo soul, including Dwele, Karriem Riggins, Elzhi and the Frank-N-Dank duo.

20 - Jay Dee – “Fuck The Police” (2001)

Following the same name and the harsh words of liberation from the legendary NWA, Jay Dee was instructed to write “Fuck The Police” by his mother, as a protest against the racism and harassment he received daily on the east side of Detroit, the region where his family lives today. The song was so incendiary that MCA Records label on which J Dilla was an artist contracted with Slum Village refused to release it, it was then that F * The Police ended up being released as a single 12 ″ by the independent recording company Angelina Up bove Records.

Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, mother of J Dilla. (Photo: Reproduction)

21 - “The Official Jay Dee Instrumental Series Vol.1: Unreleased e Vol. 2: Vintage EP” (2002/2003)

The albums were compiled by Jay Dee and his Detroit friend and trip-hop producer who is a member of the “Tiny Hearts” Waajeed group and is a collection of previously unreleased beats. Vol. 1 Unreleased was distributed by the Bling 47 label (founded by Waajeed) and is mainly available on the label's website and was followed by the release of Vol.2: Vintage, three months later, which features unreleased tracks compiled by Jay Dee in the period 1993-1998. These beats may represent Jay Dee's simplest work before entering his most experimental phase, but they contain his trademark heavy filtering, syncopated bass lines and lo-fi sounds. These two albums have some of the best Dilla beats from the 90s and are essential for Jay Dee geek’s.

22 – JAY DEE – “RUFF DRAFT EP” (2003)

Considered Dilla's most experimental album, it was originally released as a vinyl-only record distributed by the German label Groove Attack, with whom Slum Village had previously released the already listed album Best Kept Secret under the ally J-88. It was relaunched by Stones Throw as an extended version including instrumentals in 2007 after his death. "Nothing Like This" serves as a highlight track on the album, with distorted vocals repeating over a chorus, profanities and a guitar riff, showing all its versatility with different styles. Also noteworthy is the very hot "Crushin '(Yeeeeaah!)", Sample of the song “Sweet Stuff” from the album “Sylvia” in 1976, by Sugarhill Records founder and also known as “Hip-Hop Mother” Sylvia Robinson.

It is also the first release to bear the name 'Jaylib' (in the notes and credits of the inside the album); the collaborative duo of J Dilla and Madlib, which would only debut a few months later.

23 – JAYLIB – “Champion Sound” (2003)

The announcement of a complete collaborative project between J Dilla and the also brilliant producer, rapper and musician Madlib, was an incredibly exciting prospect for fans of both artists. After J Dilla heard remixes from Madlib of some of his works, a connection was made, and the dream team formed. Coming and going from Detroit to Los Angeles, hitting each other's beats, the project launched by Stones Throw Records lived up to expectations and helped to raise the profile and career of both. This album may have generated alone or reinforced a trend of already established Hip-Hop artists collaborating with each other in anthological works, Madlib followed the same trend with MF DOOM in Madvillainy the following year. But back to Champion Sound, the tracks “Starz”, “The Official”, “No Games” and “McNasty Fith” are the highlights of the album. Champion Sound was re-released and expanded on CD in 2007 and re-released on vinyl in 2009, it is also worth looking for a previous recording, which includes the original version of “The Red”, which unfortunately now appears with an alternative beat, due to a problem in the sample release. Champion Sound also definitely marked Dilla's move to Los Angeles, where he resided until his last days.

24 - Frank N’ Dank – “48 Hours” (2003)

The Detroit group formed by rappers Frank Nitt (FRANK) and Dankery Harv (DANK) signed a contract to record their debut album with MCA Records in 2003, but the project was initially rejected by the label and filed. 48 Hours is one of those records that has been immersed in underground Hip-Hop mythology for years, several pirated copies eventually surged. A J Dilla production with almost no samples? According to Frank Nitt, "contrary to popular belief, there has never been an 'original version' of 48 Hours. We started recording songs for beat samples created by Dilla and got 80% of the album done, and Dilla decided to change the beats to all the songs." Dilla recreated beats based on synthesizers and live instrumentation (including a contribution from Questlove) predominating over samples for MC’s to rhyme. The album was entirely produced by J Dilla. Delicious Vinyl, in collaboration with Yancey Media Group, released 48 Hours in its original form in 2013. It is believed that the first version of 48 Hours contained excessive samples, and this may have been a factor in its rejection by MCA, due to the problems that could occur releasing these samples.


25 - J DILLA – “Donuts” (2006)

This was J Dilla's last work in life... the great work of his release catalog that wrote the future of Hip-Hop music for so many people. It is also the most collected release and, although some may argue that it was not his best work, it was the personification of the man whose days were numbered and who used his talent and the power of music to convey the best thoughts in his mind. “Lightworks’ was one of the most popular tracks on the album and is also one of the entry points for many new features in his music. "Last Donut of the Night" is also one of the most exciting ones, with heart and soul coming out of each track. This entire release inspired many Hip-Hop and electronic music producers to release "beat tapes" and shorter productions. Donuts was released by Stones Throw on J Dilla's birthday, just before he passed away, 3 days later. It received universal acclaim and is considered one of the best instrumental Hip-Hop albums in history.

26 - J DILLA – “The Shining” (2006)

The Shining is J Dilla's third studio album and the second posthumous album, and marked the artist's reunion with BBE Records, which had released the already listed Welcome 2 Detroit, J Dilla's debut album. The Shining serves as a showcase for the talents and versatility of J Dilla, who presents him not only as a producer, but also as a rapper, MC and musician. Like "Donuts", "The Shinnig" was also produced, in large part, in a hospital room, during the last days of Jay Dee's life. Unfortunately, the record was not finished before the producer passed. As the album was ultimately only 75% complete at the time of J Dilla's death, his friend and Detroit producer Karriem Riggins was entrusted by Dilla's mother and J Dilla himself for completion and the album, being finalized and released in August 2006. Guest artists participated in the album as Busta Rhymes, Common, Pharoahe Monch, D'Angelo, Madlib, Black Thought, Medaphor aka MED and Guilty Simpson. It is an extremely powerful and energetic work, considered the culmination of J Dilla's production work, as it shows a huge evolution in his techniques and skills.

27 - Mick Boogie Presents Busta Rhymes + J Dilla ‎– “Dillagence” (2007)

Dillagence is a collaborative mixtape between Busta Rhymes and J Dilla, released in November 2007, as a free download. Created in collaboration with DJ Mick Boogie (the same, DJ Jazzy Jeff's partner in the annual “Summertime” mixtapes), as the name says, the mixtape is a tribute to J Dilla and includes instrumentals composed by the producer that had never been used back at the time, in which 15 have been handpicked for Busta Bus to destroy in rhymes with its unmatched flow, opening with the beautiful “Words From Ma Dukes”. Dilla left a lot of musical material for Busta Rhymes with whom she collaborated on all of her albums since “The Coming” in 1996 and they had a great friendship. “My musical chemistry with J Dilla is just something that ... I really don't think words can do it justice in describing it. It's more of a sensation. It's more of a vibe thing. It's an energy thing. ”, Added Busta Rhymes at the end of the mixtape. It's worth checking out this impeccable mixtape.

28 - ILLA J – Yancey Boys (2008)

It is the debut album by John Derek Yancey aka ILLA J, Jay Dee's younger brother, it was released by Delicious Vinyl using beats created during the producer's time with the label, approximately from 1995-1998 (honorable mention too, for compilation “ Jay Deelicious: The Delicious Vinyl Years (Originals, Remixes & Rarities) ”, launched in 2007, which shows Dilla's early work with The Pharcyde, and remixes for R&B contender N'Dea Davenport and the London Acid Jazz band The Brand New Heavies). As a result, the Yancey Boys sound is more robust and bolder than J Dilla's later productions. The uptempo drums in “We Here” hit hard, and the synths set the tone. With his brother ILLA J singing before creating rhymes in a very track atmosphere. Also noteworthy is the track “Timeless”. ILLA J became a mature, smooth artist with fine vocals, and a great rapper and producer too, creating his own work out of the shadow of his brother, showing once and for all that when it comes to music ,the Yancey family has certainly been blessed.

29 - J DILLA - “ANTHOLOGY VOLUMES 1-2-3-4-5-6” (2009)

Incredible collection of J Dilla's productions throughout his career launched by the Gran Slam Records label; rare remixes, B-sides, unpublished collaborations with Jamiroquai, Daft Punk, Das EFX, Maxwell, Steve Spacek, Macy Gray, Faith Evans (those you didn't know (((laughs!))) among others, tracks hard to find with limited release. All 6 volumes are on double vinyl with an average of 16 tracks on each album. This is a gold mine for every collector and fan of J Dilla.

30 - SLUM VILLAGE – “VOLUME 0” (2016)

The mark that J Dilla left in Hip-Hop during the 90s and early 2000s is undeniable, and his work with De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, The Pharcyde and many others, has long been cemented in the hallmarks of the Hip-Hop culture. His time as a member of Detroit's seminal group, Slum Village, is among the biggest and most prolific moments of his short career. His work with rappers Baatin and T3 would have a strong influence on today's rappers like Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar and would win widespread critical acclaim and comparisons with other legendary groups like A Tribe Called Quest.

Slum Village continued and recruited new members along the way. Despite this, new compositions by Dilla are still being discovered and his legacy continues to be shared and celebrated with the Hip-Hop audience. In 2016, Ne'Astra Music Group launched a new compilation of rare material from Dilla: Vol. 0. Ten tracks with the classic Slum Village programming with Dilla on vocals and production, with Baatin and T3 also on the microphone, collected by the current member from SV Young RJ, unpublished material and demos recorded between 1994 and 1997. A piece of Hip-Hop history that, otherwise, would have plunged into obscurity, even today. If the posthumous album “J Dilla The Diary” also released in 2016,  was not enjoyable to you (at least to me it wasn’t), Slum Village Vol. 0, is where you’ll listen to J Dilla and the original SV lineup in full form and force.

Slum Village foundation: Jay Dee, T3 e Baatin (Photo: officialslumvillage.com)

Trends come and go. Styles and subgenres are born, evolve and disappear, but one thing is notoriously certain: J Dilla was a genius, and in an irrefutable way he remains one of the most talented, versatile and influential artists of our time. His contribution and legacy to the culture made him a legend and a name forever recorded in the history of music. At a time when many of his contemporaries were even more interested in vanity, Dilla was more interested in exploration through music, and that made him unique. Who is the best Hip-Hop producer in history? Difficult to measure, but certainly J Dilla is included with praise in this list.



Carlos Tico: Historian, Presenter at Dublab Brasil, Vinyl Collector and Musical Researcher.


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