Detroit producer Zo! sent me an old blog he wrote just after Dilla’s passing. It may seem a bit cliche now, but J Dilla really did touch so many lives. What Zo shares right here with us all is a very touching and deep story about the first time he met Dilla, and when he received the news that he had passed away.
Zo also sent us a very special tribute track for your downloading pleasure. Many thanks to Zo on this one. Go support his new album with Asylum 7, Overdue Process.
Here is a preview, hit the skip for the full entry from Zo!…
“I can remember distinctively the first time that I heard Jay Dee…and actually KNEW who I was listening to (I owned a some of his music at the time but never put two and two together). It was The Pharcyde’s “Runnin’ (Remix) back in late ‘95/early ’96…I was a senior in high school. One of my classmates, my boy Dwight hit me up one day and was telling me about his most recent trip to the record store that day. Included in the store run was the maxi-single for “Runnin’”. So he told me to check for the remix done by a kat named Jay Dee whom he had heard was from Detroit which was a big deal…there wasn’t a lot of national exposure coming from the D around 95/96. So I was like, Bet! I’ma start keeping an eye on him for that reason alone. Things looked good from the break as I opened up my “Labcabincalifornia” CD jacket, checked the credits and under all of my favorite joints I saw “Produced by Jay Dee” or “J. Yancey”. The next thing I know, here come the “Woo Haa” remixes…the “Stakes Is High” song and remix, The Ummah. Damn man…this kat was starting to sound real consistent. So continued to keep my eyes and ears open for him. “Beats Rhymes & Life” came out about a month before I went away to school in ’96 (“Word Play”, “1nce Again”, etc, etc)…
Sometime in ’97, I remember hearing from one of my people back home that he was in a group called Slum Village…So about a year later, I was looking on Sandboxautomatic.com and listened to snippets from a 12” by Slum that had “2U4U”, “Fantastic”, “I Don’t Know” and “Players”. When I heard “Players” for the first time…wooooooow. I hadn’t heard anything that sounded like that. The claps, the texture of the song, the bassline…I was hooked. I would head up to the school library in order to hop online, go to Sandbox and listen to “Players”. So I finally took the time to order it (I used my boy’s credit card and paid him back, as I didn’t have one of my own at the time haha)…and I still have that 12” to this day. When those joints showed up on “Fantastic Vol. 2” (except for “Fantastic”), I was all in. But then heard “Climax” for the first time and damn near ran my car off the road. I was by myself in the car sounding like my boy Leaf when he hears one of his favorite joints…talkin’ bout, “OOOHHHHHHH!!!!!!!”.
Fortunately, I was able to meet Dilla back in 2003…It was February 14, and I was in Barak Studios in Southfield. If I remember correctly, T3 was in there with Young RJ, Black Milk, and Que-D. And in walks Dilla and Karreim Riggins. I was just standing there like, ‘Oh really?’ Here comes Jay Dee holding a bag of McDonald’s with this huge grin on his face. I believe that at the time he just got over being sick because RJ Rice, kept saying how healthy he looked. RJ was the one who introduced me to him…and anyone who knows RJ, y’all know that was an interesting introduction.
“Yeah mayne, this is Zo…he plays keys for Slum! This nigga bad mayne!” – RJ
As I’m standing there giving Dilla a pound and saying ‘what up’…I’m thinking to myself…Damn, this is the kat who did (name your favorite joint here). He was real cool, a real humble dude…and I’m happy to be able to share this story.
The same day that I moved out here to the DC Area, my phone started BLOWING UP at about 4:30p with all types of text messages and calls. I was in the middle of moving boxes and furniture into my new spot with my uncle, so I couldn’t get a break to even look at the phone. Finally, I just stopped and picked my phone up to check it out because at that point, the call volume was indicating that something was wrong. So I looked at the phone and saw about 5 or 6 missed calls and10 new text messages…I checked the first one, “Did you hear Dilla passed?”, the second, “I’m hearing Dilla died, have you heard anything? Tell me it’s not true.” I was thinking that it had to be a rumor. Then one of my boys called…I picked up and I could just tell. When I heard the tone of his voice, I didn’t say “Hello”, “What up?”…nothing. It was just, “Is it true man?” The news hurt. I have never been affected like that off of someone that I never really knew like that. The fact that it happened the day that I left the Detroit area hurt even more. But all in all, when you make timeless music…you are never gone. We all miss you Dilla and the music has been extremely inspirational. Here are some of my personal favorite joints that Jay Dee produced. Feel free to respond with your own favorite Dilla ‘moments’, songs…whatever. This is a celebration of life and music…”