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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Why We Worship J. Dilla

Posted By on Tue, Feb 3, 2015 at 3:05 AM

Page 2 of 2

We asked New York producer/MC the Audible Doctor, who cites Dilla as a major influence, about why Dilla connects with so many listeners.

"His ear is phenomenal," he told us. "The way he chops samples, and sonically his drums are always phenomenal. From a producer's standpoint, it could be the simplest thing. The rhythm of it, the swing of it is just phenomenal. I've never heard it that on point with anybody but him."

Rapper Chino XL, who collaborated with Dilla in 2001 for his song "Don't Say a Word," also said, "I think what was amazing about him was, I think, his musical IQ was higher than most people's. His blending of genres and the way he looked at most music as one genre, the elements he was influenced by the and interpolations in his music -- nobody would know what that was. His library was extremely extensive because his taste was so vast. And, working with him personally, he brought the best out of artists he worked with. He was such a stickler for 'you being you.'"

It is true that Dilla seemed to hear things other people wouldn't immediately gravitate toward when working with an artist, bringing those elements out in his own unique way. Perhaps the strongest testament to that is his reworking of Busta Rhymes' outlandish "Woo-Hah! Got You All in Check" into an incredibly laid-back song. The only thing that seemed more unorthodox than Dilla's musical goals was his methodology.

But the embrace of Dilla following his death has recontextualized his work to a degree. As Chino told us, "His fanbase's demographic is different and developed a neo-soul vibe, which is a trip because, in a sense, Dilla was mad gangsta. He wasn't that type, in a way." And that's just discussing Dilla's production work, whereas his time behind the mic, while not quite as popular, has also inspired a ravenous following. Chino continued "His rhyme patterns were crazy, me and Proof used to call him 'Sneaky Note.' He gets his bars in."

Audible Doctor agreed, "His content could pretty much be said to be the equivalent to mainstream content -- girls, jewelry and cars -- but his rhythm and the way he used his voice was phenomenal. I've never heard another rapper rap like that."

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