J Dilla’s legacy will be explored in a new documentary premiering on Hulu and FX next month.
It was announced on Tuesday (March 28) that The Legacy of J Dilla will debut on April 7 at 10 p.m. ET on FX, and will be available to stream on Hulu the same day.
Presented by The New York Times, the film is described as “an intimate portrait” of the prolific and virtuoistic producer, whose legacy has only grown since his death in 2006.
With exclusive access to Dilla’s family, the documentary not only chronicles his rise to Hip Hop fame, but explores the struggle for control over his legacy that has arisen in the wake of his untimely passing.
‘The Legacy of J Dilla’ original documentary is coming to FX / Hulu on April 7th, courtesy of the New York Times.
— Andrew Barber (@fakeshoredrive) March 28, 2023
“I’m a Detroiter and I’m a fighter,” his mother, Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, says in the feature, according to TV Insider.
“I will stay in there and I will fight. I won’t let anybody put my son down, what I do for him down, because I’m here to lift up his music, his legacy.”
The Legacy of J Dilla is produced and directed by Christopher Frierson and Esther Dere, the same team behind the award-winning FX and Hulu docuseries The Weekly, which uncovered how a predatory lending scheme corrupted New York’s taxi industry.
The Legacy of J Dilla isn’t the only film on the late beat wizard on the horizon. Former collaborator Questloveis executive producing a documentary called Dilla Time, adapted from Dan Charnas’ acclaimed 2022 biography Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, The Hip Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm.
Co-directed by Summer of Soul producer Joseph Patel and Darby Wheeler, the doc “will be part biography, part musicology, and part musical meditation,” according to a press release, and is being produced in cooperation with Dilla’s estate.
“Explaining musical genius is my mission. To be able to tell the world about the musician that had the most influence on me is a dream come true,” Questlove said in a statement. “Not just on me, but on an entire generation of musicians that everyone knows and loves.
“J Dilla was our teacher. And what he taught us was how to feel rhythm in a way we had never felt before. I’m so honored to be a part of bringing his story to the world through this documentary.”
J Dilla (real name James Yancey) rose to fame in the mid-late ’90s as a member of the Detroit collective Slum Village and a producer for A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, De La Soul, The Pharcyde and more.
Later becoming the musical heartbeat of the Soulquarians — the loose collective of “neo-soul” artists that formed in the late ’90s/early ’00s — he produced and influenced acclaimed releases from Common, The Roots, Erykah Badu, Q-Tip, D’Angelo and others.
A prolific artist in his own right, Dilla released several solo albums (Welcome 2 Detroit, Donuts) and collaborative projects (Champion Sound with Madlib) while also continually evolving his sound, incorporating wider genres like Detroit techno and electro-funk into his musical DNA.
The producer died on February 10, 2006 — just three days after his 32nd birthday — due to complications from thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (a rare blood disease) and lupus.