There’s a special place in my heart for James Dewitt Yancey, pka J Dilla. I’ve already written about the impact his music has had on my life, so I won’t rehash it here, but let’s just say his music has meant a lot to me. When I heard that Slum Village and Bizarre Ride Live (The Pharcyde’s Fatlip and SlimKid3 backed by Bizarre Ride producers J-Sw!ft and LA Jay) were paying homage to J Dilla with a concert aptly titled “Welcome To Dillaville”, I made some calls to make sure that I could attend the event.
Slum Village is a hip hop group from Conant Gardens, Detroit Michigan that has gone through a lot of changes since it’s inception. Originally consisting of J Dilla, Baatin, and T3, only T3 remains as an original member, with both J Dilla and Baatin passing on way before their time (rest in peace). Currently the group is on record as featuring T3, Young RJ and Illa J (J Dilla’s younger brother), but for this show it seemed that only T3 and Young RJ handled MC duties.
With the ever sublime instrumentals produced by J Dilla, Young RJ and T3 faithfully spit verses from some of my favorite Slum Village tracks: “Fall In Love”, “Get Dis Money”, “Players” and, my personal favorite, “Tainted” (clips of which are all below). They had a couple of surprises appearances from specials guests, including Frank Nitt (a frequent J Dilla collaborator) and one other rapper that I didn’t know (but whose picture is below).
Before Slum dove into their set, Young RJ and T3 gave the audience a little presentation about their beloved, lost member. They gave a slideshow presentation of never seen before letters, track sheets, personal affirmations, and photos, telling stories that only they would know, and it was truly a pleasure to watch them reflect so fondly on their lost comrade.
I couldn’t find a setlist online anywhere, but if anyone has it, please let me know, and I’ll update this post accordingly.
The video clip above released on Youtube back on December 20, 2013, but I just stumbled upon it. I’d never heard of BINKBEATS until now, but I’ll have to say that he’s impressed me with this 7 minute video. Performing all of the instruments himself, he’s able to recreate some of J Dilla’s unique sounds live to create a wonderful “live” video that mixes in four of J Dilla’s beats: “Make’em NV”, “E=MC”, “Wont’ Do” and “Fall in Love”. I’ve found videos of the foregoing tracks that you can check out, and compare, below.
Well done BINKBEATS. I’m sure J Dilla would be happy.
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 Quest, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, The 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: