Since passing away in 2006, J Dilla has been remembered by DJ Premier, Dr. Dre, Black Milk and others for his work behind the boards.
Dr. Dre says that J Dilla, who worked with Slum Village, A Tribe Called Quest, Common, Busta Rhymes and others, is one of his main musical inspirations.
“There’s actually a lot of producers that I like to listen to, a lot of producers out there that I respect, a lot of producers that I get inspiration from,” Dr. Dre said in July during the first episode of his “The Pharmacy with Dr. Dre” radio show on Beats1 on Apple Music. “But you know what? I’m gonna write a prescription for just one. What I want right now is just a dose of Dilla. One of the most incredible things that I liked about Dilla is, Dilla was in his hospital room on his deathbed and he had his machines in his room, in his hospital room and he was still making beats before he passed away. Now you’re talking about dedication to what you really love and your passion? It gets no deeper than that. That’s why J Dilla is one of my favorites.”
To rapper-producer and fellow Detroit artist Black Milk, J Dilla was his favorite.
“He was the most progressive thinking hip hop producer we’ve ever had,” Black Milk said during an interview in October. “The things he was doing on that drum machine, he was always five or 10 years ahead. It took everyone else a little bit of time to catch up. That’s the best thing I had about being around those guys, just adopting this progressive mentality.”
Last month, DJ Premier reflected on a picture he took with D’Angelo, The Alchemist and J Dilla at New York recording studio Electric Lady Studios. The four met after Canibus rejected the DJ Premier beat that was eventually used on D’Angelo‘s “Devil’s Pie.” The singer asked if he could hear the beat Canibus didn’t want to use and made plans to meet with DJ Premier at the studio the next day.
“[That photograph] will carry major effects for the rest of our lives,” DJ Premier said at the time. “Dilla’s not here, physically. His music will always speak to us like he is physically here. To have him prior to his being sick and puttin’ the memory of that session together, that’s my screensaver at the studio. It penetrates every time it comes on. Even when I turn off my computer, before it goes black, I always say, ‘Peace out, Dilla.’ And I take my hand and fist-bump his face to salute him before it goes black. It’s a little spiritual thing that I do. Honestly, I can’t turn away from that because that’s energy he still possesses in my life and everybody else’s.”