Since I’ve got my Ruff Draft tattoo, I’ve been talking to people more about Dilla and what the music means to me. Which is a good thing, because I love talking about it but people are usually more often interested in asking me if I know a recipe for raw hummus or if I can get them a discount on a dehydrator.
I’ve always loved music, ever since I was 10 and I was the only person I knew who bought Smash Hits. I’ve always loved dance music, ever since we were 15 and we used to go to Cinderella’s and the Mud. I’ve always loved hip hop, ever since I was 17 and wore out my copy of It takes a Nation of Millions by playing it so repeatedly I wore out the grooves and had to buy a second copy. Peoples Instinctive Rhythms was the first CD I ever bought. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I fell in love with Dilla. He is so underground, contemporary conscious hip hop is so deeply imbued with his sound, the chances are you fall in love with his music before you even know his name. But to me his music represents the next rung on the ladder, the next evolutionary link in the chain of finding the sounds that uplift my spirit to a whole new level.
Dilla’s music touches that sweet place in my soul in the way no other musician can. Sure, everyone makes tunes that do that at times, and that’s why we love music so much. But Dilla does it every time, he hits the honey, he starts the show, he plays the ace card.
I have my dark days like everyone else, and when I’m feeling low there’s two things I’ll do straight away. Make a cake and play some Dilla. Listening to his music always makes me feel that I’m not alone, that everything is OK, and that pain can be sweetened with the right tunes and the right dinner.
“J Dilla Changed my Life” is a hip hop cliché. But Dilla didn’t just change my life, he saved my life. His music gives me the strength to go on in those moments when I forget how. His music makes me feel totally at home in a way other artists have touched on before – Prince, Minnie Riperton, Stevie Wonder – but not so consistently and so currently. Prince reminds me of when I was 13. Q Tip reminds me of when I was 17. Dilla makes me feel alive now.
Which is all I ever really want. To feel that sense of being fully open to the moment and its unfolding. Dilla has given me that gift more than any other musician I have come across in this lifetime. And music has given me that gift more than any other path I have come across in this lifetime. Raw foods, a close second, and yoga third, but always first in my heart is the music.
For that I hold Dilla in the very highest esteem, and in recognition of his greatness, I chose to have the Ruff Draft logo tattooed on my arm. For those that know, I hope it will give them as much pleasure seeing it there as it does me. And you know what they say – for those that don’t know, get to know.
RIP James Yancey 1974-2006.
Nothing Like This – Dilla mix
PLEASE NOTE THERE IS LOTS OF SWEARING IN THIS MIX DO NOT PLAY IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED OR IF THERE ARE CHILDREN LISTENING
Intro – J Dilla
For my Man’s – Madlib
Baby - J Dilla feat. Guilty Simpson
Nothing like This – J Dilla
The Light – Common
The Love – A Tribe Called Quest
Time: Donut of the Heart – J Dilla
So Far to Go – J Dilla
Sacrifice (Beataholic Thoughts) Madlib
Lightworks – J Dilla
Raise it Up – Slum Village
Fuck the Police – Jay Dee
Wild – J Dilla
Look of Love – Slum Village
Crushin – J Dilla
Starz – Jaylib
See That Boy Fly – J Dilla feat Illa J
Sometimes – Brand New Heavies feat. Q Tip
The Healer – Erykah Badu
Stop – J Dilla
Fall in Love – Carlos Nino & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson
My August mix is downloadable here.