Archive for J Dilla

Joey Bada$$: A Return to East Coast Lineage & The Wonders of Adolescence

Posted in Album Review, Music Discovery, Music Reviews with tags , , , , , on Sunday, August 5, 2012 by Tim Althaus

Article by Chris Deline

If web-hype were any indication of talent or potential, Brooklyn youngster Joey Bada$$ might well be one of rap’s hottest names right now. The typical talking points seem standard across the board: Despite being only 17 he has a “sophisticated” and “confident” flow, reps hard for his Progressive Era crew (“a collective of 18 rappers, producers, graphic designers and studio engineers“), exhibits a distinct and refreshing ’90s hip-hop vibe (reviews have been tireless with Nas references), and for having just released his first mixtape with 1999, he already has everyone from Mac Miller to MTV backing his cause. In the month that’s passed since 1999 dropped for free online, the mixtape has already racked up nearly 400k combined views between DatPiff and Live Mixtapes alone. Astounding results for a kid who has yet to enter his senior year of high school. But does web-hype really equate talent?

Of course not.

But it does accurately reflect Bada$$’s potential.

Part of 1999‘s immediate appeal comes with its obvious resemblance to what real “hip-hop heads” are either already familiar with, or are desperately seeking. Take for example one of the set’s most acclaimed cuts, “Survival Tactics,” which utilizes Styles of Beyond’s eponymous track from the group’s 1998 debut. Although it isn’t exactly a showstopper as far as musical references go, it shows that he’s actively looking back — digging, if you will — while moving forward. The same goes for when he leans on Dilla and Statik Selektah. “World Domination” goes a little deeper with sample of DOOM’s “Poo-Putt Platter,” which in turn sampled a tune from the Fat Albert Halloween episode: this is the kind of incestuous keeping-it-realness that back in tha day trumpeters kill for! “Funky Hos” and “Snakes” would each sound at home on Midnight Marauders tribute LP, but it’s “World Domination” that especially speaks to where the kid’s at musically: He’s most comfortable within the previous generation’s ideal of what an old-school flow was supposed to sound like. 1999 is the scrapbook of a kid whose parents listened to Biggie, attends the same high school as Adam Yauch once did, and who discovered Gangstarr through video games.

Most of the release finds him spitting about girls — what would you rap about if you were 17 again? — but even there he maintains a strange lyrical mixture, balancing macho posturing with emotions: “Word to my mother/Two things I never do is leave the crib without some rubbers or tell a funky ho I love her/These broads be trying to get a brother caught up in a sticky situation, missing menstruation” (from the Steve Miller Band-sampling “Funky Hos”) follows “So tell me what the fuck I’m supposed to do/You know it ain’t too easy getting over you/I sent the postcards so you know it’s true/I promise that I wouldn’t get emotional” (Bada$$ doing his best DOOM in “Pennyroyal”). But 1999 isn’t empty in terms of showing his dexterity as an MC either: peep 3:43 to about 4:30 of “Hardknocks” where his rapid fire delivery really takes off, “This is for my niggas, killas, hundred dolla billas/On the block in the rock spot glock cocked watchin’ out for cops/All about they cheddar young girls know nothin’ that’s better…”

Speaking with Pitchfork, Pro Era producer Chuck Strangers explained his process in developing the handful of tracks he contributed to the release, “Joey had a very specific vision for 1999. I was playing him all these other kinds of beats and he’d be like, ‘These are ill, but not what I’m going for.’ So I sat and I listened to Joey Bada$$ music. People ask me, ‘Did you listen to a lot of Wu-Tang and Illmatic when you made these beats?’ I know those shits because I’m from Brooklyn and I love ’em, but to make Joey Bada$$’ tape, I listened to Joey Bada$$.” Growing up on hip-hop is a great starting point, but the ability to be so selectively focused of what it is he’s trying to do at such a young age is what might actually separate Bada$$ from the crowd. 1999 is no Illmatic, but it is a skillfully constructed tape by a minor-leaguer who’s playing at a pro-ball level. Whether you’re boom-bap’d out halfway through the mixtape or not, what you should take away from 1999 is its what-ifs: the what-ifs that have inspired the web-hype and the what-ifs that suggest his future to be bulging at the seems with “potential.” The reason it’s important to keep his age in mind isn’t simply because it’s remarkable that Joey Bada$$ appears so “sophisticated” and “confident” at only 17, but because he seems to already be better at constructing a consistent album than many who’ve been doing it since back before he was even born. Oh, the potential…

[Guest contributor Chris DeLine is a freelance writer living in Nashville, TN. Follow him or Twitter or friend him on Facebook.]

?uestlove’s DJ Set Tribute to J Dilla

Posted in Downloads, Media with tags , , , on Friday, February 10, 2012 by Tim Althaus

As many of you know, ?uestlove is probably the biggest J Dilla fanatic there is; I guarantee he has just about every piece of music that James Yancey composed. ?uesto was on Hot97 today as a guest dj, and every song in his show was related to J Dilla; I only wish I could have listened to this live because ?uestlove is one of the most knowledgeable musicians of all-time, and I can guarantee he put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this.

As far as a dj set is concerned, ?uestlove totally kills it; he skews every aspect of Dilla’s career, and his knowledge of Dilla’s catalog becomes clear within the first few songs. This mix is definitely worth an hour of your time. You can expect to hear songs from Ghostface, Slum Village, J Dilla himself, The Roots, Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes, Common, De La Soul and The Pharcyde. What I love about this show is that ?uestlove actually breaks down some of the samples that Dilla used, so you can try to imagine how Jay flipped it. This dj set is something that a hardcore Dilla fan like myself can really get into, but at the same time, it’s a great introduction for someone new to the Dilla catalog.

Download: ?uestlove’s J Dilla DJ Set

R.I.P. J Dilla (February 7, 1974 – February 10, 2006)

Posted in News with tags , , , on Friday, February 10, 2012 by Tim Althaus

I still can’t believe that this man is gone because it always saddens me to think about Jay’s passing. Jay Dee truly was a producer’s producer, and no one will ever be able to top Dilla’s abilities. I feel as though I am a very fortunate human being; experiencing and finding out about Dilla’s music is truly one of the greatest things that has happened in my life. His music is something that I will always be able to confide in whether times are good or bad, and I thank him for that. For those of you fortunate enough to be in the D today, I salute you, and I hope you have an incredible time on Dilla Day.

 

Happy Birthday to the Greatest That Ever Did It…

Posted in Downloads, Random with tags , , , , , , on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 by Tim Althaus

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. Continue reading

Unlooped Vs. Dilla To Perform Encore Show

Posted in Audio, Media, Video with tags , , , on Thursday, February 2, 2012 by Tim Althaus

I was very excited to see this pop up on my Facebook feed yesterday, and I’m glad that Jon Jon Scott posted this. This last September, various musicians got together at the Stonefly Brewing Company in Milwaukee to recreate some of Dilla’s production pieces with a classical, yet modern mindset (very similar to Suite For Ma Dukes); I was bummed that I didn’t get to see Unlooped Vs. Dilla, but it looks like I might get another chance to experience a one-of-a-kind opportunity. They haven’t released the dates for the encore yet, but it’s going to be sometime this month, and I can assure you that I’m going to be there. You can listen to the original Unlooped Vs. Dilla performance below, and be on the lookout for J Dilla related material from yours truly through the rest of this month.

J Dilla x Stussy Documentary Part 3

Posted in Media, Video with tags , , , , on Monday, March 1, 2010 by Tim Althaus

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Sorry for the pause in posting people, but there really hasn’t been anything that has spiked my interest a great deal in the last week. This video; however, is a much different story. This is the third and final part of Stussy’s documentary on J Dilla; this video pertains to Jay making beats and how he progressed his sound and where Jay got a lot of his sounds from. I love hearing Dave Cooley breaking down what it was like to work with Dilla in the studio; I can’t imagine what it was like to see that man doing his best work. House Shoes mentions another crazy fact: Dilla made most of his tracks in just about fifteen minutes. That shit is nuts. Big ups to Stussy and Stones Throw for collaborating to tell the story of one of the greatest minds music has ever seen.

J Dilla x Stussy Part 2

J Dilla x Stussy Part 1

Spotted @ Crate Kings

J Dilla x Stussy Documentary (Part 2)

Posted in Media, Video with tags , on Thursday, February 18, 2010 by Tim Althaus

This is the second part of a three part documentary Stussy is doing on J Dilla. This particular episode is about Dilla’s move from Detroit to Los Angeles. In this video you will see Peanut Butter Wolf, Egon, J-Rocc, DJ Rhettmatic, House Shoes and others talking about Jay’s transition Detroit to LA.