In Memoriam | J Dilla | 1974-2006 | “We reminisce over you”


A lot of people don’t know this, but before I went to law school, I worked at a small boutique entertainment law firm in Santa Monica, CA.  One of our clients was the production company that had signed Slum Village as an artist.  One of the first albums I got my entertainment law hands dirty with was “Fantastic, Vol. 2”.  I took great pride while working on the project because I knew there was something special with the talent in that group, particularly the talent of the producer J Dilla, who produced the ENTIRE album, which is amazing.

When I entered my second year at law school, I decided to work part-time, splitting my time  hustling in the class room, and hustling in the office.  Though J Dilla decided to move on from Slum Village, he produced a couple tracks off of Slum Village’s next album, “Trinity (Past, Present and Future)”.

James Dewitt Yancey, pka J Dilla, born February 7, 1974, passed away February 10, 2006 from a blood disease, and I remember feeling a great sense of loss.  He was part of my professional evolution and maturation, and is a reason why I love this business so much.  To work, albeit somewhat remotely, with talent makes it all worthwhile.

His instrumental album “Donuts” and his first solo album “The Shining” are 4 and 5 star albums based on my own personal rankings.  NPR, in their obituary, stated that J Dilla “was one of the music industry’s most influential hip-hop artists, working for big-name acts like A Tribe Called QuestDe La SoulBusta RhymesThe Pharcyde and Common.”

This is a terrific four part interview of J Dilla from back in 2003. You want and in-depth take of his come up and the way he produced, and what inspired, his music? You need to set aside 40 minutes of your day and listen to this interview.

Here’s a great video of man who lucked out and scored a storage unit of J Dilla’s record collection. I hope all of that wax is being taken care of.

Below are some of my favorite J Dilla Tracks.  RIP, Mr Yancey.  Truly a visionary.  Lost but not forgotten.  “We Reminisce Over You”.

Note:  If any of the links don’t work, let me know, and I’ll find an alternate version:

Jose James’ “Park Bench People” (Live)- A Cover of a Freestyle Fellowship Classic


Back when I was a young tyke, I was heavily influenced by jazz infused hip-hop. Tracks by A Tribe Called Quest, Guru and De La Soul were getting heavy spins on the radio, but I was more drawn in to the underground sounds of the Los Angeles based hip hop group (being an Angeleno) Freestyle Fellowship. Their album “Innercity Griots” is, by my standards, a hip-hop classic.

Earlier today, a Facebook friend posted a couple videos of a relatively new American vocalist named Jose James who blends modern jazz and hip hop to perfection. After snooping the inter-webs for more information about his albums, I found that he covered one of my favorite Freestyle Fellowship tracks, “Park Bench People”. 

Jose James’ cover of “Park Bench People” blew my mind, and I hope that it impresses you as much as it impressed me.