J. Dilla was unquestionably one of the most respected, if not constantly referenced, hip-hop producers of the past decade. Born James Yancey in his hometown of Detroit, Dilla was a prolific, inspired artist dedicated to the craft of classic, sample-based hip-hop, which he made for the likes of De La Soul, The Pharcyde, Busta Rhymes, and Common. However, it was mostly his solo work (Welcome 2 Detroit), trend-setting beat tapes (Donuts), and the posthumous Ruff Draft that earned him the adoration of beat artists long after his death. He died four years ago of cardiac arrest due to a rare blood disease.
Now, from the label that brought you Dilla's music, Stones Throw, and the Stussy clothing brand, comes a documentary focusing on the artist's move from Detroit to LA, his relationship with producer Madlib, and his final years that followed. The movie features archived footage of Dilla performing live, as well as loads of interviews with friends and fellow beatsmiths talking about the rise of the celebrated producer. The conversations provide a new perspective on the man's legacy, and add another layer of personality to an already charismatic figure.
You can watch the first two parts of the J. Dilla documentary now, with the third and final segment to come.