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article imageDilla Day: Detroit celebrates the legacy of J Dilla Special

By Layne Weiss     Feb 10, 2014 in Entertainment
Detroit - Friday night (February 7), the hip-hop community celebrated the life and legacy of late Detroit-native producer James "J Dilla" Yancey at the third annual Dilla Day.
"Your favorite producer has Dilla in his top 3," Questlove of The Roots once said. And it's true. He was truly one of the best ever, and artists and fans came out to Dilla Day Friday to show their love on what would have been his 40th birthday.
Hosted by Detroit rapper and co-owner of Burn Rubber Sneaker Boutique Ro Spit, the event featured performances by hip-hop legends such as Slum Village (a group Dilla formed in high school with T3 and Baatin). De La Soul, Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest, as well as a DJ battle between Pete Rock and DJ Premier.
J Dilla's longtime friend and fellow Slum Village member T3 said he's happy to see Dilla's legacy continue to grow. As one of the founding fathers of Slum Village J Dilla was "always a part of our sound and what we did," T3 said, but noted how great it was to see Dilla's music touching and inspiring a new generation. "I feel like Dilla's legacy is Detroit's legacy," he told me. "I feel like they all go together."
Sadly, people are still unaware of Dilla's incredible talents. There are self-proclaimed hip-hop fans who have never heard the name J Dilla, but even though he "was slept on," he will forever be "one of the greats," T3 said, and his music is "getting appreciated more and more every year, and I'm happy it's growing."
"We always gonna rep Dilla and Baatin at every show, everything we do....cause that's just part of our music, a part of who we are."
Guys like Pete Rock and DJ Premier "NEVER come here," T3 pointed out, but they came to Dilla Day to honor and celebrate the life of J Dilla, and it just shows how deeply Dilla has touched the lives of so many people. "Dilla Day is like a mini festival," T3 said, and told me of possible plans to make it even bigger like maybe in a couple years, Dilla Day will even become a 3-day event. "It's growing and growing each year," and T3 and the rest of Slum Village (Young RJ and Illa J) are just happy for the chance to continue to rep Dilla.
"I think it was great. I think like 1500 people came out. It was a beautiful turnout," T3 said. "We really really had a great time."
Slum Village released a new J Dilla-produced track just the other day in celebration of his birthday, and the group is working on a new album.
"Our new album that we got coming this summer is vintage. It's vintage Slum with new Slum," T3 revealed. "So basically what we do is...the joints that we're doing...our beats were produced by Jay Dee...half the album is produced by Jay Dee. It's not Dilla. J Dilla had different phases...The Stuff we're using is Jay Dee," T3 explained. "Ya know what I'm saying? So we have early music...We're saying half our album is 'produced by Jay Dee.'"
"So when you get a chance, click on that song, you'll hear Dilla talking."
The album is still untitled, but is "basically done."
"I just feel like this is the first year that Dilla Day was really done the way that I thought it should have been done," Slum Village member Young RJ said. J Dilla was Young RJ's mentor and he's happy to be "a part of keeping his legacy alive."
Dilla Day was a "special show," Young RJ said noting how incredible the energy was. "Dilla Day was a special show for us. We take it seriously and from this year forward we just wanna make sure we keep it at this same magnitude."
Detroit DJ/producer Nick Speed said it felt "incredible" to be a part of Dilla Day. "It's an incredible platform to be on and just for me to able to represent the legend J Dilla, a guy who totally influenced me and inspired me to even wanna do music and changed my ear on music, and for me to be a young teenager and to hear J Dilla's music...You know they say 'J Dilla changed my life?' (I was wearing a shirt that night that said "J Dilla Changed my Life" and he most definitely did, so I did understand). J Dilla changed my life. That's a true statement," Nick said.
Look out for new music from Nick Speed coming soon. "I have Hot Soup by Danny Brown and Nick Speed coming out on April 26 from Street Corner Records through DJ House Shoes.
Hot Soup was originally released in 2008. I was telling Nick that I was listening to it recently while eating hot soup, and he said "that's what everybody was really supposed to do. They're supposed to eat hot soup while they was listening to it."
This new version will feature five new unreleased tracks.
"Shout out to Danny Brown and the whole Bruiser Brigade," Nick said. "Whaddup doe."
For more information on Nick Speed, visit his website and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @NickSpeedEnt. And check out his radio show on Hot 107.5 every Friday night.
Detroit rapper Guilty Simpson said it meant a lot to perform at Dilla Day. "I feel like he was one of the first people to believe in the music that I was doing and kinda gave me the production and gave me kinda like a landscape to speak, so I mean it's always good to come back home and see familiar faces and people that you know, people you came up means a lot. Ya know I think I need that. For as much as I travel, I need that just as much to be able to come home and perform, you know, for my people, for sure." Guilty said.
"This is a celebration of the life of James Yancey, J Dilla. Great producer. I rank him very high in my all time greats. In fact, he's #1. He represented home. He represented the underdog, Detroit, Michigan, and I salute him. I salute his life. Instead of mourning his death, I celebrate his life through his music. Through my music. I was lucky enough to collab with him, and he provided great opportunities for me and opened a lot of ears for me and I'm thankful for that. So just being a part of this show is a small part of what I can do to give back to what he did for me. I appreciate J Dilla, James Yancey."
Guilty Simpson is currently working on a new record with Stones Throw. "Peace to Peanut Butter Wolf. Dope DJ."
Beyond that, Guilty plans to continue putting out good, quality music.
Eight years ago today (February 10, 2006), we lost one of the absolute best to ever do it when J Dilla died of complications from lupus.
It was an incredible honor to be at Dilla Day Friday both as a fan and as a writer celebrating the life and legacy of James "J Dilla" Yancey.
Dilla Day Detroit
Dilla Day Detroit
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