James Yancey, aka J Dilla, passed away 10 years ago but that hasn’t stopped him from releasing music. “The Diary” his 14th album was put out to the public posthumously this past week and serves as a reminder of the huge hole in hip hop that was left with his passing. His work with The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest, Common and countless others has solidified his legacy as being one of the greatest producers to ever live. Mostly known for his wide ranging, smooth jazzy samples, “The Diary” is more of a snapshot of the turn of the millennium hip hop. Even though his latest is more braggadocios and flashy than some of his earlier work, you can hear the unique sound that has made Dilla such a legend. In honor of his release we’re taking a look at 5 of the best tracks that J Dilla was involved with.
“Runnin” – The Pharcyde
One of most interesting hip hop acts of the 90’s used Dilla to produce this track when he was only in his early 20’s and still a relative unknown out of Detroit.
“The Light” – Common
An incredibly popular song that you can’t imagine without the 70’s influenced soul beat behind it. J Dilla sampled the 70’s singer Bobby Cauldwell and his work was recognized with a Grammy nomination.
“African Rhythms” – Jay Dee (First Solo Alias of J Dilla)
Off of his first solo album, J Dilla went from sampling other’s music to actually using live bass and drum recordings on this.
“Find a Way”– A Tribe Called Quest
J Dilla has produced some classic tunes with De La Soul. Their 1996 single, ‘Stakes is High,’ remains their most famous collaborative effort. Thankfully, before Dilla’s death, De La worked with the Detroit producer again on their 2004 album, ‘Grind Date.’ The certified street banger ‘Verbal Clap’ boasted a neck-snapping beat and a vocal sample from Peech Boys’ ‘Dance Sister.