Most hip-hop fans remember the first time they heard a song produced by the late James Dewitt Yancey, aka J Dilla–even if they didn’t know he did it. Maybe you were among the lucky in the ’90s who caught some of that early Slum Village or lost your mind when those guitars from The Pharcyde’s “Runnin” lead you into those drums. Or maybe it was the special touch he brought beats by A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes and Keith Murray as part of The Ummah. Before passing away all too soon on February 10, 2006, the producer and MC from Detroit left one of the strongest impressions on hip-hop and R&B ever. Every year since then fans and peers have celebrated his life with “Dilla Day” tributes around the world. This year his mother Maureen Yancey aka “Ma Dukes” moved the party to Miami, FL for an extended weekend of shows and had everyone from Talib Kweli, Slum Village, Pete Rock and Black Milk to Mobb Deep, Camp Lo and Joey Bada$$ to perform.
With Dilla touching so many lives in his relatively short time, watchLOUD dedicated our next #FirstImpressions to his memory and had M-1, Ski Beatz, Camp Lo, T-3 and Young RJ share their earliest memory of J Dilla and his music.
“The first time I remember hearing about Dilla was from A Tribe Called Quest, The Ummah,” says M-1 of dead prez. “Q-Tip, who is a very good friend of mine, was also accommodating to another figure of mine named Common, Rashid as I know him from college. I can’t remember the first Dilla beat but I remember being in Badu’s crib and she saying ‘Yo, I’m gonna do something with Dilla.’ Not too long from then I went on tour with Slum Village. Dilla met us in Detroit, I got up in the Escalade and we rolled around 8 Mile and heard his beats right in the Escalade. He was a top notch, quality human being.”
Watch more in the video above.