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Friday, July 22, 2011

J Dilla's 10 Greatest Remixes

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2011 at 8:00 AM

J Dilla
  • J Dilla

Deceased hip-hop producer J Dilla, né Jay Dee, first asserted himself on the rap radar with his group Slum Village. Lauded by luminaries Q-Tip and ?uestlove, the Detroit-based trio of Dilla, T3, and Baatin (also sadly deceased) are held in cult esteem today. Tonight, remaining group member T3 and Dilla's younger brother, Illa J, will head up the Slum Village Oakland night at The New Parish. Dilla's original production catalog can be a prickly subject -- for every disciple who anoints him as an all-time great, there's a sober curmudgeon to point out that he also contributed to making A Tribe Called Quest's final two albums underwhelming affairs -- but it's his remix work that arguably gives a more impressive insight into how he reshaped the songs of others. Before the Slum Vil tribute tonight, here are Dilla's 10 greatest remixes.

Innerzone Orchestra, "People Make the World Go Round (J88 Remix)"

Tackling a Stylistics cover from techno auteur Carl Craig's Innerzone Orchestra project, Dilla switches out the original's twinkly, slightly underwhelming drums and replaces them with his trademark pounding thuds. It works a treat, bedding the track for singer Paul Randolph's humanistic musings.

Lucy Pearl, "Without You (Jay Dee Remix)"

The Lucy Pearl supergroup, consisting of Rafael Saadiq, A Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and En Vogue singer Dawn Robinson (who happens to be Tribe member Phife's secret crush), dropped a great but underrated self-titled R&B album in 2000. Dilla's take on the single "Without You" isn't so much a remix as a complete gutting of the track: It's visceral and raw, starting out as little more than a bare beat, but utterly amazing in its economy.

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Phillip Mlynar


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