I cannot lie, it took me a while to get fully immersed in Dilla. My brother, who spends more time looking at records than anything else, was at his last gig in the UK at the Jazz Cafe (I have done no research to clarify if this was Dilla's last UK gig but I am pretty certain it was) but I only really started paying attention posthumously and I regret not actively familiarising myself with his catalogue. The more I looked the more I discovered his name in the credits and the more I realised I had been listening to his music throughout my teenage years on a pretty heavy rotation.
His very specific style that sampled heavily and almost filtered samples through a J Dilla filter that could take any sample or multiple layers of samples and spew out a beat that was always that J Dilla sound. It was a lot more subtle than his contemporaries, the samples are not chopped and reassembled but rather elevated. You start to appreciate the sample because Jay Dee shows you its worth, its value by highlighting the beauty in it.
Dilla crossed all the boundaries that disputes of the early '90's created, producing indiscriminately for both East and West coasts. Being from Detroit, he was less pigeonholed than other producers to one coast or the other. His sound paved the way for Kanye and one might question that without the death of J Dilla, would Kanye have had such a large hole to fill?
But let us celebrate a life cut short, J Dilla RIP. Check out Stacks favourite J Dilla tracks here!
PS If anyone has a copy of Ruff Draft on cassette, it is mine, I lost it in 2008 when moving house...