When I heard that Jay Dee died I wanted to believe it was a rumor. Wondering why everyone was playing old ATCQ and Slum Village on the radio that night. I tried to listen to my friend in one ear, while attempting to use the other to listen to the up-to-date information on the matter at hand, in the evening traffic home. I can’t believe it…
I remember it so vividly, my sophomore year of high school at home on a lazy summer afternoon and Climax (Girl Shit) came onto the screen. Now, I cannot imagine BET showing such a video, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. The beat captivated me, it was like those “When did you first fall in love with Hip Hop” moments. I remember searching for days trying to find a website, cd, something. I finally got Fantastic Volume 2 and the rest is history. From that moment on I ventured to listen to everything I could.
Years would go by and I would connect the dots between the group member of Slum Village and the man who created the musical score to the life of so many people. As far back as I could recall James Yancey’s beat were infused in my life’s journey. Whether playing the Pharcyde’s running away because of school bully’s, watching Phife dog sliding down a contorted ramp in the Stressed Out video, singing along as if I really knew stress at the age of 11; rocking Q-Tips let’s ride as an teenager and playing Common’s the light for the first time.
This man was talented; he skillfully intermingled and reconstructed riffs and phrases (James Brown’s responses in Make It Funky for Slum Villages I Don’t Know) in such a way that old heads could appreciate and new ears could deconstruct and discover the genius – enjoying and sometimes identifying the samples that allowed them to take in the texture and stories in his music.
THANK YOU Mr. James Dewitt Yancey AKA J Dilla, AKA, Jay Dee, AKA the Greatest that Ever Did It
For allowing me to be immersed in the beauty that is hip hop.
R.I.P. Jay Dilla.
And Now…. Some of my favorites (in no particular order)
Slum Village – Players
J Dilla – Two Can Win
De La Soul – Stakes is High
Q-Tip – Let’s Ride
Slum Village – Untitled