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Who's Biting J Dilla's Beats? Hip-hop producer's legend ascends posthumously; estate struggles to maintain control BY JEFF WEISS
No art form lionizes its fallen quite like hip-hop. Forget Biggie and 2Pac. Their reputations were sealed the moment the doctors zipped the body bags — though, to be fair, few can argue against their posthumous crowning in the pantheon. More telling is the postmortem red carpet rolled out for Big L and Big Pun, two prodigiously talented artists who released a mere single great album each, dying before they had a chance to ruin their reputations with the inevitable 2005 Houston bounce track. No, in hip-hop, molehills are turned into mountains, with even lesser talents like Dipset flunky Stacks Bundles earning a spate of po-faced eulogies and a prominent “R.I.P. Stack B, Ima keep you alive, kid” shout-out from Lupe Fiasco on last year’s The Cool.
J Dilla is a different case. Unlike the aforementioned names, when the 32-year-old beat-maker/rapper, born James Yancey, passed away at L.A.’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in the winter of 2006 (due to a cardiac arrest stemming from complications related to Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rare and incurable blood disease), he was neither savior nor supernova. Instead, he was an underground legend in those pre-Internet days, when the term actually meant something. Racking up a string of left-field hits capable of stacking up against any producer of the late ’90s/early ’00s, Dilla quietly dropped bombs working with the Pharcyde (“Runnin’”),” De La Soul (“Stakes is High,” “Itsoweezee”), A Tribe Called Quest (“1nce Again,” “Find a Way”), Erykah Badu (“Didn’t Cha’ Know,”), and Common (“The Light”). Meanwhile, with Janet Jackson, Dilla had his only brush with mainstream success, carving Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” into the lean proto-chipmunk soul of “Got Til It’s Gone,” his only single to ever reach the Top 40. In what would become a pattern, Dilla never saw full credit, with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis “mistakenly” getting credit in the liner notes. Nonetheless, the track’s sonics directly influenced the next generation of crate-diggers, with Just Blaze, 9th Wonder and a certain college dropout all taking notes.
Like most great producers, Dilla’s mike skills couldn’t match his otherworldly ear, but he still managed to amass a respectable discography as one-third of Slum Village (whose Fantastic, Volume 2 is often regarded as a subterranean classic); a Jaylib collaboration with Madlib; and Welcome 2 Detroit, an uneven solo effort. Cumulatively, it wasn’t as eye-popping as it was a portent, a start to what would inevitably have made for a first-ballot Hall of Fame career, considering Dilla’s notoriously rigorous work ethic.
He died the same week that L.A.-based Stones Throw released Donuts, an impossibly soulful trip of head-nodding, hip-hop instrumentals that served as a gorgeous, plaintive requiem. It was also Dilla’s finest work,earning him the 2007 Plug Independent Music Awards for Artist of the Year and Producer of the Year. Donuts’ greatness and the sentiment engendered by Dilla’s passing helped to kick-start construction of the Church of James Yancey. . . .To continue reading the full story click here.
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Check out DJ Green Lantern & Nas Mixtape! Click the images to download it now!
Tracklist 1. (00:02:43) Nas - Intro
2. (00:02:56) Nas - Gangsta Rap rmx.(Prod by Dj Greenlantern) 3. (00:04:33) Nas - Cops Keep Firing (Prod. By Dj Greenlantern) 4. (00:04:16) Nas - Hero (Prod by Polow Da Don) 5. (00:00:26) Nas - Black President (Prod. By Dj Greenlantern)
6. (00:05:09) Nas - Association (feat. and Prod. by Stic Man of Dead Prez) 7. (00:02:46) Nas - Legendary (Mike Tyson)..(Prod by Salaam Remi) 8. (00:03:16) Nas - Ghetto rmx feat. Joell Ortiz (Prod by Dj Greenlantern) 9. (00:01:39) Nas - Seen it All (Green Mix) 10. (00:03:37) Nas - Esco Lets Go (Full Song).(Prod by Dj Khallil) 11. (00:04:13) Nas - N.I.G.G.E.R. (Slave and Master). (Prod by Dj Toomp)
12. (00:03:04) Nas - Be a Nig*er too rmx feat. Dante Hawkins (Prod. by Dj Greenlantern) 13. (00:03:33) Nas - Surviving the times (Original Cool and Dre Version) 14. (00:03:28) Nas - Nas Timeline mixed by Statik Selektah (Nararated by Nas) 15. (00:05:53) Nas - Outro feat. Richard Pryor
Click on the image in the upper left hand corner of the widget to see the "Black President" Video by Nas!