Happy Birthday to the Greatest That Ever Did It…

As I sit here and ponder what to write for my annual Dilla Day post, I find myself thinking about the first time I heard James Dewitt Yancey’s music: A friend had told me to check out the track “So Far To Go” off of Jay’s album, The Shining. From the second “So Far To Go” started playing, I was hit with a myriad of emotions, and I had no idea how to comprehend what was bombarding my ear drums; once the piano section kicked in right around the two minute mark, I damn near burst into tears. I would soon come to realize that I had been “technically” listening to James Yancey’s music for a long time; I just didn’t know it.

Ever since that first listen of “So Far To Go”, I made it my mission to track down every piece of music J Dilla was a part of. I have never had a musician’s music hit me so hard before; it was the equivalent of being hit over the head with a cast iron skillet. J Dilla is arguably one of the greatest producers to ever perfect his craft, and it shows through in his music. Donuts is an album that I can listen to no matter what mood I’m in, and it has the ability to shine sun on my day even when it’s pouring rain. The way that Jay layered samples was incredible, and many influential artists still talk about his music to this day: Pharrrell Williams of the Neptunes¬† has said that he aspires to be as great as Jay Dee, and even Mr. West shows Dilla a great deal of love. Dilla’s music is a medium that will always be able to soothe my soul, but he’s an icon that will always be a major influence in my life.

I remember reading articles about J Dilla being in the hospital for Lupus and TTP, and the way he treated his constantly deteriorating situation was remarkable. Jay endured all of the pain and strife so he could make sure that Donuts would see the light of day; Dilla did what he loved until the very moment that he passed, and that’s how I want to live the rest of my life. There is no reason to live for someone else, and if you aren’t doing what you love on a daily basis, then what is the purpose of living? When ever I get myself into a jam or I’m in a situation that I’m having a hard time with, I ask myself “What Would Dilla Do”?

A lot of people constantly bitch about how people jump on the “J Dilla bandwagon”; this is something that really pisses me off. There are a lot of people that were too young to experience Jay’s music when they were children, and then they do find out about him, and they are “jumping on a bandwagon”? No. Personally, I think that it’s great when people are exposed to Dilla’s music and they fall in love, and any time that I get the chance, I make sure to drop some knowledge about Dilla Dawg.

The last few times I’ve done a Dilla Day post, I’ve made my own mixes that were a representation of my favorite Dilla related tracks; however, for the sake of redundancy, I’m not going to be doing that this year. Instead, I am going to include a mixtape released last year by Witchita phenom XV; the tape is called Thanks For the Donuts, and it’s a short but beautiful effort. I know it’s not as personal, but I still feel as though great medium to show that Dilla’s music is still alive. It’s like Babe Ruth said in the movie Sandlot, “Remember kid, heroes get remembered, but legends never die”.

Download: XV, Thanks For the Donuts

“My name is Dilla Dawg, and I can only rep the real and the raw” – James Dewitt Yancey



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