Today marks three years since the passing of James Dewitt Yancey, otherwise known as Jay Dee or most notably, J Dilla. The Detroit producer/emcee/singer is no longer with us, but his character and music is timeless. The bumping bass, drums and impeccable sampling resonate throughout hip-hop, as his music touched so many artists and fans alike. I am not one to elaborate on the man’s impact on music, but the artists that we have gathered today can vouch for these statements on the utmost level.
Here are brief statements from Amanda Diva, Black Milk, Ilyas & Donwill of Tanya Morgan, Count Bass D, Zo!, Finale, Trek Life, 8thW1, 6th Sense, Keelay & Zaire, IMAKEMADBEATS, Rob Vikum and D/Will on how J Dilla changed their lives.
Continue to join us for the rest of the week as we celebrate J Dilla’s life with more tributes and features including DJ YNOT’s exclusive mix tonight!
Check out what these fantastic artists have to say about J Dilla and let us know how J Dilla changed your life in the comments section after the skip…
James Dewitt Yancey (February 7, 1974 – February 10, 2006)
“Dilla’s music exposed me to a whole new brand of hip-hop that filled a void. I actually jacked “the Fantastic Vol 2″ from my boy Q in college because I immediately fell in love with it from the first time I heard it. I came from Florida to NY and was immersed in the sounds of Wu, Nas, Jay etc. So all I knew was that down south 808/high hat sound and the dark New York flava but Dilla was able to bring together a unique brand of soulful with that classic boom bap and that was something I hadn’t heard before and it hit me at my core. When I became an artist his music served as huge part of the foundation of my own sound.”
– Amanda Diva
“Dilla is the one that made me want to sample. I have to say, there probably would not have been a Black Milk if it wasn’t for Dilla. Even though there was Pete Rock, and a lot of other guys that was ridiculous on the beats, there was just something about Dilla’s style that made me want to do my own thing and take his element and make it into my own music.”
– Black Milk, quoted from this Article.
“It was three years ago that Jay Dee passed and in 2009, it still hurts. Dilla made me change the way I look at hip-hop music. He actually made me look at music as, …well… MUSIC. Why? Because this brotha wasn’t just sampling from funk records, or solely from jazz records, or soul records…he would take a record made strictly from the Moog synthesizer and make something crazy with it. He would take a Folk record and have you repeating the part of the verse he may have sampled over and over like you know the original version. He was using chord progressions in Hip-Hop joints! And they sounded crazy! As a piano/keyboard player, this was right up my alley and listening to and understanding his music made me want to pursue making my own. For me, Dilla was the kat who knocked down the genre walls and made me look at music as music. He’s one of the main reasons why I now put music into two genres – Good Music and Not So Good Music. Dilla just knew how to make any sample sound good from any genre. The brotha was just flat out talented as a producer and a musician – his music will continue to influence my creativity and growth as an artist. Respect Due…”
“He was the 1st hip hop producer that really demonstrated to me the depth of emotion that can be communicated through Hip Hop on a mere instrumental level. It challenged me to try to hit the same emotional chords with my words.”
– Ilyas of Tanya Morgan
“A little known fact is that I started out producing and rapping, the first song me and Von Pea ever did was over one of my beats and I was producing stuff for my group back in North Carolina too. I was studying Dilla the entire time I made beats. Like picking apart his composition and method’s when I got a hold of Fantastic Vol 2. I played that album for an entire year straight and nothing else really. I also learned a lot from his cadence and rhyme structure. Actually that entire album, front to back played a really big part in my personal development.”
– Donwill of Tanya Morgan
“Dilla changed my life by showing me how to work through pain.”
– Count Bass D
“Dilla showed me that versatility is the key to longevity, humility keeps you grounded as well as respected and originality leads to immortality. The lessons I learned through watching, listening and talking to him changed my life. He gave a city sound.”
“Listening to Fantastic Vol 2 renewed my energy to search for artist that were still making dope hip hop music. I found out so much that I was missing after that. I’m thankful for Dilla’s spirit to continue to make DOPE music.”
- Trek Life
“I was a fan of Dilla long before I could put a name to his music. Before I learned to ask, “Who did the beat?” To me, J-Dilla is hip-hop. He is an example of an artist who absorbed the artform and made it a part of who he was. This not only makes him and influence to me in music but in everything else I do. He is the best because no one else can do what he has done. Therefore, we all have that potential.”
“James Yancey changed my life by showing me how important creating your music is. It’s not about anything but the music.”
- 6th Sense
“In my world Dilla changed hip hop. Not much more to be said than that. When somebody can transform what you eat, breath and sleep. Theres nothing but the highest form of respect there.”
“Like almost everyone else, I was somewhat familiar with Dilla in the late 90s/early 2000s, but I didn’t know how much he was involved in the evolution of not only hip-hop, but music in general. I listened to a lot of Tribe, Busta, and other tru school acts but didnt know Dilla played a part in all of that. Matter of fact, the first joints I can remember crediting to Dilla was ‘The Look of Love’ and ‘One 4 Teen (Funky 4 You – Bahamadia)’. Those 2 joints rang out to me because of the drums and basslines of course lol. But I was overseas in while in the military and had a lot of time to listen to music, and a lot of that was Dilla’s work. It was so incredible to me how he flipped shit that I literally was tryin to recreate Dilla joints without samples with my good ol Roland MC-505 lol. Of course I didnt come close, but I learned a lot from that time, and still use what I learned to this day. I believe there are a lot of great beatmakers/producers from all times, but very few can boast on being a mentor to so many in the current generation of beat thugs. Dilla holds the crown on that one, and it’s not because he passed (RIP homie), but because he was actually that great of an artist. Changed my life, thats fa damn sure.”
“Where do I start on J. Dilla. It was Jay Dee that changed my life, and J. Dilla that kept it evolving. Without a doubt, Jay Dee is my biggest influence as a producer, but his influence on me went beyond music. The way his drums were what I called “slanted,” was dope. I liked things being off, but still right on time. I looked at that and felt like it could be used in various parts of your life. His work and dedication was an inspiration to us all, and it angers me that everyone is a Dilla fan now, claiming that they always knew of him, when they didn’t. I was forcing people to listen to Dilla when me saying “Jay Dee” was interpreted as Jermaine Dupri. No one ever knew who I was talking about, but I knew what I was hearing in him was nothing less than genius.”
“Dilla changed my life and I couldn’t even tell you when it started. The way he manipulated those samples, the chops were so genius. Dilla was able to take you somewhere with those beats. go and Listen to Bilal’s REMINISCE and try to argue Dilla wasnt a genius. He made my diggin patterns change, and realize I didn’t need that annoying quantize function on my MPC. RIP Dilla, I will forever been in debt to you for your influence!!!”
- Rob Viktum
“Dilla made me feel like I could chop anything, so that’s what I do.”